7 Questions to Ask An Independent Senior Living Community

Making a move to an independent senior living community can end up being one of the best decisions you’ll ever make.

Plenty of nearby social activities, lots of on-site amenities, and simplified day-to-day living—can all add to a happier, more productive senior life.

But how do you find the right independent senior living community for you? There are lots of options to choose from these days. And it seems like more are popping up all the time.

That’s why it’s so crucial that you ask all the right questions when finding your perfect community.

This guide takes you through the seven most important questions you need to ask before deciding on your independent senior living community. And with it, you can rest easy knowing your senior years will be spent in the best of the best.

Table of Contents

  1. Ask What Level of Care Do You Offer? (And What Do I Need?)
  2. Find Out What Amenities Are Included in My Monthly Dues?
  3. What Activities Do You Usually Have On Your Calendar?
  4. What Training & Qualifications Does Your Staff Have?
  5. How Do You Ensure Your Residents Stay Safe?
  6. Do You Offer Any On-Site Spiritual Services?
  7. Can I Visit Your Community & Talk to the Residents?
  8. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Ask What Level of Care Do You Offer? (And What Do I Need?)

First and foremost, you need to be sure you’re getting the level of care you need to stay happy and healthy.

Many seniors just starting their search for independent living retirement communities won’t need much help.

Maybe some light lawn care, essential home maintenance if something goes wrong—nothing too extensive.

But it’s also essential to plan and find communities that offer higher-level care should medical needs progress. Otherwise, you’ll likely have to relocate to an entirely new community as you get older.

Be sure to ask what levels of care an independent living senior community offers. And be sure to follow up with questions about whether they provide assisted living and memory care accommodations.

2. Find Out Which Amenities Are Included in My Monthly Dues.

Independent Living AmenitiesOne of the best things about moving to an independent senior living community is that you have access to lots of amenities.

These amenities are offered to and paid by residents through monthly dues.

Resident monthly dues simplify the process rather than paying for these services and other essentials (i.e., utilities, lawn care, etc.) individually.

As you interview communities, ask what amenities are included in your dues and which aren’t. Senior living community costs can be a significant sticking point for some.

And if you overlook the extra costs of specific amenities, you may be putting your long-term financial stability at risk.

Also, be sure you’re paying close attention to the meal plans available. Are all your daily meals included? Do you have to pay extra for special occasions?

3. What Activities Do You Usually Have On Your Calendar?

A major draw of independent senior living communities is that there are often plenty of planned activities for the residents.

These activities help keep residents active, encourage socialization, expand horizons, and even help ease the transition for new members.

Be sure to inquire about what activities your potential independent living retirement communities have on their calendars.

Look for communities that offer a healthy mix of activities and events like:

  • Exercise classes
  • Planned walks
  • Group outings for cultural events in town
  • Movie nights
  • Bingo
  • Happy hour
  • Holiday celebrations
  • Educational classes
  • Hobby groups

4. What Training & Qualifications Do Your Staff Have?

Though you may be looking at a community specifically designed around independent living, you’ll want to be sure you find one with qualified and adequately trained staff.

Most independent living communities will have medical services available in an emergency. Are the staff that provides these services adequately trained? What kinds of educational qualifications have they attained? Are there any sorts of continuing education requirements?

Plus, the community staff is there for more than just medical support. They’re also your connection to the organization as a whole. And when you reside in a community with staff that is actively engaged and passionate about what they do, it means the needs of residents are more likely to be met.

5. How Do You Ensure Your Residents Stay Safe?

If you’ve already started a conversation with your children about senior living, safety concerns are likely their number one concern.

While a properly trained staff is the first step to community safety, you should also ask questions about accessing that medical staff.

For instance, are there:

  • 24/7 emergency services?
  • On-site emergency transportation services?
  • In-room pull cords or alert buttons?
  • Daily check-ins?

It would help if you also were thinking about general safety precautions, like:

  • Gated entries
  • Senior-focused building and campus accessibility considerations
  • Emergency response plans
  • Generators for backup power
  • Background checks for staff

6. Do You Offer Any On-Site Spiritual Services?

Independent Living AmenitiesIn the United States, about 9 out of 10 older adults consider themselves spiritual.

Spirituality has plenty of benefits. It can connect you with those in your community. It can give you resilience in times of hardship.

And it can help you to see the best in others and the world around you.

If you consider yourself a spiritual person, be sure to ask you’re shortlisted of independent senior living communities offering any on-site spiritual services.

Holiday celebrations, cross-religious learning groups, Bible studies, and regular church services in your community can be instrumental in keeping you spiritually active.

7. Can I Visit Your Community & Talk to the Residents?

Lastly, be sure to pop in for a visit before making any commitments. As obvious as it seems, the way your prospective community handles this question can be the most telling.

For instance, it could be a red flag if you’re only allowed to see part of the community. Some communities may only show potential residents the most excellent, most polished campus details. In the meantime, the areas you’ll be interacting with day-to-day may be off-limits.

If this occurs on your tour, be extra careful about choosing such a community.

In that same vein, be sure to speak to actual residents about their experience in that independent senior living community. They’ll provide the most unfiltered and honest assessment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about deciding on an independent senior living community.

What Should I Look for in an Independent Senior Living Community?

A few of the most important aspects of a quality independent senior living community are:

  • The right level of care to suit your needs
  • Lots of amenities included in your monthly dues
  • Plenty of social activities
  • A highly trained and qualified staff
  • Adequate safety protocols
  • On-site spiritual services (if that interests you)
  • On-site and open tours

What Does an Independent Living Facility Provide?

It depends on the facility. In most cases, residents of these communities can handle most of their needs on their own. However, some facilities make day-to-day living more manageable by providing:

  • Home maintenance services
  • Consolidated billing
  • Meal plans
  • Community activities
  • A variety of facilities like gyms, restaurants, and spas
  • 24/7 emergency services

What Do You Look for in a 55+ Community?

Not all 55+ communities are the same. And some are obviously more attractive than others. If you’re weighing your options with 55+ communities, be sure to look out for the following qualities:

  • A vibrant social scene to keep you active, engaged, and happy.
  • Helpful amenities are included in your monthly dues to simplify your daily life and make your senior years some of your best.
  • Convenient location near friends, family, and lots of cultural activities.
  • Reasonable pricing that you can comfortably afford for years.
  • Various housing options to suit your needs and tastes.
  • On-site emergency services.

What Are the Advantages of Living in a 55 Plus Community?

There are plenty, including:

  • Being part of a community in the same life stages
  • Lots of social activities to choose from
  • Plenty of amenities makes day-to-day living more straightforward (meal plans, home maintenance, consolidated billing, etc.)
  • On-site support services like medical or occupational therapy
  • Safety and security
  • Independent living with the added support you need

Where Can I find the Best Independent Living Retirement Communities Near Me?

Independent Living AmenitiesFinding your perfect independent senior living community can seem like searching for a needle in a haystack at first. But when you know which questions to ask, it can make your search infinitely more accessible and more successful.

And never be afraid to ask tough questions. After all, this is going to be your new home.

As such, it’s your right to be informed. And you owe it to yourself to find a community that fits your needs and preferences.

Now, if you’re looking for an independent living senior community in the greater St. Louis area, look no further than The Harbor at Cape Albeon.

At The Harbor, we offer elegant private apartments, graceful dining options, near-endless community activities, and a gorgeous campus ground we know you’ll love.

Plus, all our staff are dedicated caregivers and come highly trained and vetted—so you can rest easy knowing you’re getting the care and support you deserve.

We also offer:

  • Delicious daily meals
  • Bi-monthly housekeeping
  • A 24-hour emergency response system
  • Indoor pool and whirlpool
  • A wonderful lakeside trail
  • Chapel for worship services
  • And much more

Want to get a closer look at what life is like at The Harbor? Just click below to schedule your tour today!

For the very best in an independent senior living community in and around St. Louis, look to The Harbor by Cape Albeon.

Schedule A Tour