Today’s seniors are enjoying increased longevity, so where they choose to live has become an important consideration. Fortunately, there is a wide variety of housing options available to them.
When it comes to making a housing choice, there are some key factors that should be addressed, ranging from atmosphere to finances.
Seniors should ask these six questions while touring any community, according to Heather Barlow, vice president of sales for Revel Communities, part of The Wolff Company. She has 30 years of experience in the senior living sector, having previously held leadership positions at Brookdale Senior Living and Emeritus Senior Living, as well as the state Department of Social and Health Services.
1. How do I feel when I’m here?
First impressions can tell you a lot, so pay attention to how you feel as you take in the property.
“Ask yourself, ‘How do I feel when I’m in this community?’ Consider the atmosphere and whether it feels comfortable and inviting,” Barlow says. “Reflect on the interactions with current residents — do they seem open and friendly?”
Also, schedule your tour during an active time of day to get a more accurate read on the community.
2. Could this feel like home?
Your goal may be to free yourself of responsibilities of homeownership you no longer want or need, but that doesn’t mean giving up your sense of “home.”
“As you take in the tour, try to visualize yourself living on the property,” Barlow says. “Imagine your daily routine and how it would unfold if you were to live in this community. Ask yourself, ‘Can I imagine living here and making it my home? Could I comfortably invite my friends and family to this place?’ Does the place fit in with your vision of how you see your life unfolding?’’
3. What are my dining options in this community?
A tour of any independent living community should allow you to experience available dining options and decide whether their options meet your needs.
Some key questions to ask, according to Barlow: “Does it feel like I’ll be eating food created by a chef each day? Will I want to eat here every day? Can I cook if I want to? Can I eat whenever I want — just like in a restaurant?”
Ask about dining hours and flexibility. Can you choose when and where you eat, or are you tied to a schedule? Many independent living communities only offer dining rooms with set hours.
4. What makes this community different from others?
Most independent living communities offer dining and recreational options, so pay attention to intangibles that are harder to define but which can set one property above the rest.
“During your tour, ask yourself, ‘Can I have this experience or lifestyle someplace else? Or does this community offer something others don’t?’ ” Barlow says.
One way to help determine if a community is unique in its offerings is to inquire about the amenities that make it one of a kind — think onsite gyms, entertainment options and learning opportunities. Asking these types of detailed questions helps get to the root of what makes a location unique and helps you see how you’d fit in.
5. What does my monthly rent get me at this community?
Location, demographic of residents, and amenities will play a big role in your final decision. But for many individuals, it really comes down to the price.
“Ask to see a comparison of the costs of homeownership versus what is included in your monthly rent,” Barlow says. “Most communities will include utilities, housekeeping and dining in your monthly rent, so you’ll want to understand what sets theses services apart from one community to another.”
6. Does the community encourage a culture of wellness?
Ask what types of groups exist, or will be created, within the community and the process for joining them.
“Are there onsite coordinators or instructors leading engaging social, educational and physical activities? Will there be opportunities to form meaningful relationships with new neighbors and friends?” Barlow says.
Revel Issaquah is a resort-style collection of 146 luxury apartment homes for ages 55 and older. Amenities include a full-service restaurant and pub, guest suites, 24-hour concierge, housekeeping, saltwater pool, movie theater, full-service salon/spa, art studio, greenhouse, dog park and more.