14 Tips for Finding a Retirement Community You’ll Love

When shopping for a senior living community, today’s seniors have more exciting lifestyle and service options than any generation before them. While this is a good thing, it can also make the decision-making process that much more overwhelming. However, creating a clear picture of your needs and wants and doing your research will lead you to the perfect community for you, says Kelly Carroll, Director of Community Relations at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, a senior living community offering Independent Living with Supportive Services, Assisted Living and Memory Care in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “This is one of the most important decision seniors will make,” Kelly says. “Those who take the time to fully examine their lifestyle goals, consider future wellness needs, assess the longevity of their finances, and thoroughly research their options will make the move with confidence and have a much better overall experience at their chosen community because they know they made the best possible decision.” To get started, consider the following and make checklists. 1. Know Your Goals and What You Need. Why are you considering a move to senior living? What services or amenities must a community have in order to meet your needs and support your goals? 2. Consider What You MIGHT Need. Will you mind moving to a different community if Assisted Living or Memory Care services are needed? Or is it important to you that all services be offered on one campus? What about Rehabilitation Therapy or Skilled Nursing Care? If you have a spouse or partner with different needs, can the community meet both of your needs in the same neighborhood, or will you have to live separately? 3. Know What You Want. What are the “must-have” services and amenities? This is a list of non-negotiables – a pet-friendly community or one with a comprehensive wellness program, for example. You should also create a “wish list” of everything hoped for, such as an on-site guest suite for visitors, a pub or a pool. 4. Location, Location, Location. Does the community provide transportation? Is it close to the shops, restaurants and entertainment venues you enjoy? Will it be easy to get to your doctor, dentist or place of worship? Does the community have on-site resident parking? If you have frequent guests, does the area have plenty of fun things for your guests – including any grandchildren – to do? Knowing upfront what you do – and do not – need and want will help you narrow your search in the ideal location. 5. Know Your Options. Buy-In or Rental? Independent or Assisted Living? Active Adult Community or Life Plan (CCRC?) Senior living communities come with different service levels, care options, price points and contract structures. It's critical to research your options carefully. 6. Establish a Budget. Understand the community’s fee requirements and how much it will actually cost you each month. Then determine if that rate can be sustainable long-term. A good way to determine this is to add up all of your current monthly expenses, including mortgage, property taxes, utilities, lawn care or garbage services, grocery bills, entertainment, and other services covered by a potential community’s monthly fee (services can vary greatly). Then account for annual rate increases, cost-of-care increases if a move to Assisted Living or Memory Care is necessary, and service fees for “extras” like the salon or a pet fee. Look into long-term care insurance, or Veterans benefits and other financial resources that can help. Community sales advisors may be able to provide you with information. 7. Identify Contenders. When you know your budget and what type of community you’re looking for (Active Adult, Life Plan or something in between), do an online search to find the communities that match your service needs, preferred fee structure (buy-in or rental) and “must-haves” in the location you desire. The communities’ websites should describe services and amenities, the care levels available, and types of life-enrichment programs. 8. See What People Are Saying. Look up social media pages for each community that interests you. Read the comments. Look at the photos. See what you can learn about the culture, lifestyle, residents, activities, programs and more. 9. Visit Each Community in Person. Schedule a time to take a guided tour so you will have the community representative’s full attention and won’t be rushed. Take notes and consider bringing a friend or a family member with you. They may notice something you missed or ask questions you hadn't considered. If you have a partner who will be moving with you, be sure to schedule a time when you can go together. 10. Be Observant. Do you feel welcome? How does the staff interact with residents and guests? Are they friendly and helpful? Do they seem to enjoy their jobs? Ask how long they’ve worked there; high turnover is often a sign of poor management and unhappy environments. Are residents actively engaged or socializing? Do they seem happy? Is the community clean? Does it look like it can support your lifestyle and independence if your needs change? 11. Bring Your Questions. Online research provides only so much information. What are the annual rent increases? What are the costs associated with different services? If a spouse or partner with different needs, will you have to live in separate neighborhoods or can you stay together in an Independent Living or Assisted Living apartment? How will that affect your monthly costs? 12. Speak with Current Residents. Ask them what they love most about the community. What’s a typical day like at the community? Are the meals delicious and nutritious? Are dining venues open at convenient times? Is there any reason they would not recommend the community? What do they think of the management? 13. Join Your Top Picks’ Mailing Lists. Communities often invite prospective residents to enjoy free informational lunches – giving you a taste of the dining program – and other events that will give you a taste of the culture and programming while getting to know the team and residents better. These events also give you a chance to see the community at different times of the day and on weekends. “Attending events at several communities, sampling their lifestyles, and meeting their people is a terrific way to feel them out and find your perfect fit,” says Kelly Carroll of YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens. 14. Seek Professional Advice. You’ve found your dream community and it’s time to sign on the dotted line. But don’t go it alone … mistakes here can be very expensive, both financially and emotionally. Retirement community contracts can be long and complicated. Consult a financial planner and/or an attorney before you sign anything. To discuss your senior living options or to visit YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, give us a call at 561-246-6102! Inspired • Engaged • Fulfilled Offering Independent Living with Supportive Services, Assisted Living and Memory Care, YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens was designed specifically with residents in mind. We know your life is shaped by family, friends, hobbies, passions and more, so we’ve created a community where you can enjoy comfort, independence and engagement, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define your own lifestyle. Here, we shape each thing we do around you, from your routines and interests to your choices and preferences, to create an inspiring lifestyle that fits YourLife™ perfectly. Because we are completely shaped around you, our residents get more of out their lives. With exceptional care delivered by a dedicated and compassionate team and a fulfilling lifestyle full of choice and convenience, residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible. Each day holds something new for residents. Whether they are enjoying our exclusive activities, learning something new or simply engaging in our YourStory programming, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. Do you enjoy making new discoveries and trying new hobbies, simply want to continue the hobbies you love or enjoy some time to yourself to relax? At YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, the choice is up to you. Contact us to learn more! Call us at 561-246-6102 for more information or to schedule a personal visit today.