Selecting an independent living community is an investment worth careful consideration—and should entail reviewing various options for the best fit before making a decision. Below are specific tips on how to find the best independent living options near you.
Browse Online Directories
Online directories can provide location-directed listings and reviews of nearby independent living communities, advises Eichenberger.
These directories provide a listing of independent living facilities searchable by location. These listings usually include the independent living facility’s rating, location, services and facilities provided, reviews and contact information.
Eichenberger recommends evaluating the credibility of a directory by looking into whether it is associated with a reputable organization, such as a government agency, a well-known senior advocacy group or a trusted health care provider.
She also recommends working with an advisor or agency who is willing to be transparent about their services, the costs and how they operate. “Many of these organizations are free to the older adult and their families but are compensated by the senior living communities if they make a referral,” she says. “You may want to look into and interview a few directories to get a feel for the organization and determine which one you are most comfortable working with.”
Ask a Senior Care Advisor or Other Expert
Discussing potential options, accommodations and considerations with an expert can also help, says Eichenberger. You can find relevant expertise through a senior care advisor or a senior placement service provider, both of whom often offer guidance free of charge for older adults, says Eichenberger. Independent living communities may pay an advisor for these consulting services if a resident chooses their community, adds Eichenberger.
Visit Various Communities
While it’s important to conduct research online, visiting communities in person can help future residents and their families familiarize themselves with a community’s atmosphere, meet current residents and assess the amenities and services offered to determine if it meets their needs, says Eichenberger.
Pay special attention to factors like proximity to loved ones and other essentials, such as a preferred grocery store, pharmacy or primary care provider. “Do you want to choose a location close to family and friends? Do you want it near certain health care facilities, a faith community, shopping centers or other essential services? This can help you narrow down the search area regarding the location,” she explains. Eichenberger also recommends visiting a community during “off hours” to experience its atmosphere beyond scheduled tours.
Dig Deep on Cost Breakdowns..
Making sure a community’s cost fits within your budget is an important step in finding the right independent living option for your needs, says Eichenberger. “The costs of independent living can vary greatly, so it’s important to look at your budget and what you can afford upfront and monthly.”
New residents may be required to pay several fees like a one-time move-in fee and fees to join the community, says Eichenberger. It’s also worth asking about pet fees, landscaping costs, trash fees or any other community costs—which can quickly pile up. “Some communities offer an all-inclusive monthly payment that covers rent, housekeeping, meals, activities and other amenities. Others have tiered or add-on pricing for certain services.” Always ask for a cost breakdown of each service and amenity to get a clear picture of monthly (and yearly) expenses.
Eichenberger also suggests discussing plans for a move to an independent living facility with a financial advisor to ensure you have a clear understanding of the costs involved and understand all potential financial implications. “Remember, the goal is to find a place where you can enjoy an enriching and fulfilling lifestyle while maintaining your independence and well-being.”