It’s estimated that over a fifth of the U.S. population will be 65 years of age or older by 2050. This demographic shift has led to a steep increase in senior living options. There are now more sophisticated, unique and exciting choices than ever before. However, all those choices can make it more difficult to narrow down the right option for you.
One way to make choosing a retirement community easier is to establish a list of “must-have” features, amenities, and lifestyle requirements. As you narrow down your options to the final three or four choices, take a tour of each community to see how well it fits your initial impressions. At Oak Trace, we are always delighted to invite prospective residents into our community to experience it for themselves. On your tour, refer to this list of essential questions and ensure you get the answers you need before the tour is complete.
1. What is most important to you in a retirement community?
Before you begin your search, ask yourself what aspects of a community are most important to you. While having a pool on site may sound lovely, if you don’t enjoy swimming, then the presence or lack of this feature won’t make a difference. However, preferences for region, weather, proximity to family or friends, and availability of nearby restaurants and entertainment may all be important factors to you.
2. How do you feel when you walk into the community?
Every home, neighborhood and community has its own unique ambiance. If you enter a space that feels relaxed and comfortable, or vibrant and energetic, that will give you a sense of the type of community that is cultivated there. Ask yourself if this is the type of energy that you want to enjoy every day. Also take stock of other first impressions. Is the community clean and well-maintained? Do residents seem happy and connected with one another?
3. What services and amenities are included?
Ensure that you know precisely which services and amenities are included with your monthly fees. There may be activities or continuous learning opportunities offsite, or for an additional fee. When touring the community, request both a detailed list of amenities and services as well as the community’s current events calendar.
4. How do the residents and community team members treat one another?
Ask yourself if the residents and community team have positive interactions. How do they treat one another? Are team members attentive, kind and respectful toward residents?
5. What special training or certifications do team members have?
On your tour of the retirement community, ask about any special training and certifications held by the resident care team. This could range from health and wellness certifications for fitness instructors to specialized healthcare certifications.
6. Is the community fully transparent about sharing financial contracts and fee information?
When you ask questions related to cost and financial concerns, the community should be open and transparent. Monthly fees, what’s included in those fees, and any entrance fee or financial requirements should be made clear to you up front.
7. What are the accommodations like? Do you have the ability to customize the décor to your taste?
Senior communities offer a broad range of accommodation types, from private residential-style homes to cozy studio apartments. Look for a community that best fits your preferences. For instance, would you like a furnished, move-in ready cottage or an apartment suite that you can customize to fit your style? How much space do you need? What is the community’s policy on flooring choices, paint colors and other finishes?
8. What are the community’s specific safety policies and features?
A key benefit to residing in an independent living community is the presence of safety features specifically designed for the needs of older adults. During your tour, ask about who to contact during an emergency. Are there emergency call buttons in each room? If there is a health emergency, how close is the nearest hospital? Is there a registered nurse onsite?
9. How many dining venues are there and what type of cuisine do they offer?
Onsite dining options are one of the most popular amenities at senior living communities. Ask how many dining venues the community has and what their operating hours are. For instance, at Oak Trace, we offer breakfast, lunch and dinner options at both Cafe Vie and our Bistro, just steps away. Our professional chef works tirelessly to create daily dining experiences that satisfy and delight. In fact, many communities offer delectable, chef-prepared meals made with fresh ingredients. Request a sample menu, or enjoy a meal or two onsite so you can taste the fare for yourself.
10. Can meals be tailored to specific dietary needs or requests?
If you have specific dietary requirements, inquire about whether or not they can be accommodated. Many dining venues offer a range of specialty cuisines, from gluten-free and diabetic-friendly to kosher and vegetarian options.
11. Are there transportation options?
While you may enjoy driving now, it isn’t always convenient or practical. As you get older, you may find that you simply prefer the convenience of having on-site transportation to take you to the grocery store or health appointments. Ask about transportation services available to residents. Are appointments required? What are the transportation operation hours?
12. What is the community’s pet policy?
Each community’s pet policy will differ. There may be certain pet, breed, or weight restrictions. Ensure that your furry or feathered friend can enjoy the community with you, too.
13. Can you speak with a current resident about what life is like?
When touring a retirement community, ask if you may speak with a current resident. Many residents are happy to chat over a coffee or glass of wine about their experiences. Your community liaison should be able to put you in touch with someone.
14. Does the community offer the care you need now – and the care you may need in the future?
We all want to live a healthy and vivacious life for as long as possible. But are you prepared for a time when your care needs may change? Consider what would happen if you had an illness or injury that prevented you from being able to safely care for yourself. Does the community offer additional levels of care and assistance that you can take advantage of later in life?
Schedule a Tour at Oak Trace
Oak Trace is a spirited and connected neighborhood situated among acres of open green space and offering residents numerous opportunities to pursue their passions. We cultivate a friendly and approachable atmosphere that makes this a heartwarming and nurturing community to live in. Residents stay effortlessly in touch with all the familiar places they love in, around and near Chicago.
See for yourself what living at Oak Trace has to offer. Learn more and schedule a tour here.