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Questions to Ask When Looking for a Retirement Community with your Parents

Choosing a retirement community is a big decision, and it’s important to involve your parents in the process. This is especially so considering many parents have misgivings or concerns about moving to a retirement community. It’s up to you to help them feel comfortable with the process, and one of the best ways is to ensure all their questions about this process are answered. Here are some questions to ask when looking for a retirement community with your parents.

General Questions

Retirement community living can be a major change for your parents, and one they likely feel completely unprepared for. In such a case, it’s important to begin with the most general of questions so that your parents can get a baseline understanding of retirement community life. Additionally, this helps you expand your own knowledge as well. Start with general questions like the following:

  • What types of accommodations are available? Independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care, rehab facilities, etc.
  • What housing options are there, from apartments to cottages and the like?
  • What is the size and layout of the accommodations? How much walking is required to reach amenities and services?
  • What is the parking situation?
  • Are the accommodations furnished or unfurnished?
  • Are there any pet restrictions?
  • What is the cost of each type of accommodation?
  • What is the cost of meals and activities?
  • What amenities and services are included? Transportation, housekeeping, laundry, dining, social activities, fitness programs, healthcare services, etc.
  • What are the qualifications of the staff?
  • What is the security like?
  • What happens if the health of your parents change and they need a higher level of care?

Questions to Ask about Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing care retirement communities, also known as CCRCs, are some of the most popular choices for older adults today. This is because they offer strong flexibility, long-term cost savings, and peace of mind for residents as their needs change. Understanding how CCRCs work – and, more specifically, how a specific CCRC works – will go far in helping your parents make their decision. Questions to ask include the following:

  • What levels of care are offered? Independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care)
  • What is the cost of each level of care? Is there an entrance fee and, if so, what does it cover?
  • How do residents transition from one level of care to another?
  • What is the financial stability of the CCRC?
  • What is the cancellation policy?

Additional Questions

There’s much more that goes into understanding retirement community living than just general information, of course. Each retirement community is likely to handle things differently, so it’s critical to ask questions that provide you with detailed answers. The more information you can gather the better, as this ensures you and your parents will make the right decision for them. In this case, additional questions to ask when looking for a retirement community include:

  • What is the philosophy of the retirement community? Resident-centered care, holistic approach to wellness, lifelong learning, etc.
  • What is the culture of the retirement community? Active and social, quiet and relaxed, diverse and inclusive, artsy, outdoorsy, etc.
  • What are the dining options like? Fine dining, casual dining, restaurant-style dining, etc.
  • What activities and programs are offered? Educational programs, hobbies, social activities, fitness programs, cultural events.
  • How are residents involved in decision-making? Resident councils, volunteer opportunities, board of directors representation, etc.
  • What are the visiting policies?
  • What is the pet policy?

Additional Considerations

Asking questions about a CCRC you’re evaluating is obviously an important part of the process, but you’re not going to learn everything about each community that way. There are other ways to learn about the communities you visit, such as observing residents and staff at the community. Be sure to visit the campus, and pay attention to how the staff interact with the residents and how the residents interact with each other. This will give you a good sense of the culture of the community.

Additionally, take the time to ask residents about their experiences living at the community. What do they like? What don’t they like? What advice would they give to other potential residents? The people who live there will have an honest opinion of the community and will provide the most valuable information. To that end, don’t be afraid to ask for more information from staff as well. Talk to them about their qualifications and experience. What are they passionate about? What are their goals for the community? Good staff will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Finally, take a tour of the community and pay attention to the details. Is the facility clean and well-maintained? Are the accommodations comfortable and inviting? Are the common areas spacious and well-lit? The best retirement communities have a warmth that makes residents feel comfortably home.

Even More About Evaluating Retirement Communities with Your Parents

The process of evaluating retirement communities with your parent is complex and is unlikely to be resolved overnight or even in just a few days. This means you should be prepared to take your time with the entirety of the process. Write down your parents’ needs and preferences before you start visiting communities. This will help you to focus your search and make the most of your time.

Additionally, patience is going to be your biggest virtue during this process. It may take some time to find the right retirement community for your parents. Don’t be afraid to visit multiple communities and ask questions. Finally, be respectful of your parents’ wishes. Ultimately, the decision of where to live is up to your parents. Make sure that you are supporting their decision and that they are comfortable with their choice. Don’t try to push them into what you think might be a better place if they have misgivings. Listen to their thoughts on the matter and work with them to resolve any uncertainty they may have.

It’s absolutely true that choosing a retirement community is a big decision. But it’s an extremely important one. This may be where your parents spend the rest of their lives. If you pick the right one, they’ll be able to remain on campus even as their health needs change.

Therefore, you’ll need to do your research to ensure you make the right choice – and that includes working together with your parents and asking the right questions about continuing care retirement communities. As long as you take your time and you’re thorough with your search, you can find a community that meets the needs and preferences of your parents.

Acts Retirement-Life Communities oversee 27 beautiful CCRCs across nine states. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have about the process or any of our communities.

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