What to Look for When Choosing an Independent Living Community

August 29, 2023

Senior independent living communities are a residential option for older adults designed to provide a vibrant and self-sufficient lifestyle. They combine the tranquility of private living with the mental and physical benefits of a supportive social network. The allure is evident: imagine a life free from the burdens of home maintenance, coupled with plenty of opportunities to engage in enriching activities and forge new friendships.

How to Choose an Independent Living Community

Senior independent living communities vary in the amenities, services, and socialization opportunities they offer, so you’ll want to do your research before choosing where to spend your golden years.

To help you find an independent living community that is a good fit, we’ll review some important community features and questions to ask when evaluating them.

Location, Location, Location

The location of your independent living community affects everything from your access to daily conveniences to the vitality of your social life.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • Is the community situated near family and friends?
  • What local amenities, like grocery stores and medical facilities, are within easy reach?
  • What opportunities for leisure and recreation are in the local area?

Neighbors & Staff: The Heart of the Community

One of the main draws of independent living communities is the countless opportunities for socialization. Look for a community full of friendly residents and a warm, involved staff.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • What is the community’s atmosphere like? Is it welcoming and friendly?
  • Does the staff seem genuinely caring and responsive to residents’ needs?
  • Is there a community director or floor manager who gets to know residents personally?
  • Are background checks performed during the hiring process?
  • Is there a high or low turnover in staff?
  • What do residents like best about the community?
  • How many residents participate in community events and clubs?
  • Do current residents seem cheerful and engaged?

Enjoyable Amenities and Services

Independent living communities typically offer a variety of convenient amenities that can enhance your quality of life, provided they align with your interests so you’re not paying for things you won’t use.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • What common areas are available on campus (e.g., gym, games room, cafe, library, salon, etc.)?
  • Are additional services, like transportation, housekeeping, or wellness programs, available?
  • Do the amenities cater to your interests and preferences?
  • Do the amenities have any limitations? For example, laundry service is available but doesn’t include dry cleaning, the transportation schedule is limited, or the facility only offers basic cable when you’re keen on having the “sports package.”
  • Is the community pet-friendly?
  • Are special dietary options included in the meal plan?
  • Is the dining area self-serve or restaurant-style with wait staff?
  • How often does the menu change?

Activities for Engagement and Fulfillment

Engaging activities foster connections, stimulate the mind, and contribute to a fulfilling lifestyle.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • Does the community regularly offer a diverse selection of organized events for residents?
  • Are there clubs, classes, or hobby groups that match your interests?
  • Are there excursions such as visits to local attractions like museums, restaurants, or malls?
  • What kinds of outdoor spaces are available for residents on campus?
  • How much influence do residents have over what goes on, and can they help plan and suggest events or new clubs?
  • Do activities change every week or month?

Peace of Mind

Feeling safe is vital for older adults. You should determine how the community handles daily security for the residents and how well-prepared they are for emergencies.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • What security measures are in place to ensure residents’ safety?
  • How does the community handle medical emergencies?
  • Is staff available 24/7 in case residents need to report any issues?
  • Does the community have an emergency response plan for power outages and natural disasters?

Pricing and Fees

Understanding the costs of living in an independent community allows you to plan effectively for the future.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • What is the fee structure, and what does it include? Are there any additional costs?
  • How often does pricing change?
  • Is there a clear breakdown of pricing for various accommodation options?
  • Are there flexible payment plans or financial assistance options available?
  • Are there security deposits or move-in fees?
  • Are there renter’s insurance requirements?

Learn about Independent Living Options at Miami Jewish Health

Choosing an independent living community is a big step toward a more enriching and satisfying chapter in your life. At Miami Jewish Health, our 20+ acre tree-lined oasis next to the vibrant Miami Design District is full of inviting spaces that offer something for everyone. Our friendly staff would be delighted to answer any questions you have during a tour of our campus. Contact us today to learn more.


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