When you embark on a search for a Life Plan Community (formerly Continuing Care Retirement Community), you quickly discover that communities have many similarities. You compare the brochures and notice that most communities have a fitness program, dining program, different floor plan options and a social calendar. You are armed with your questions and ready to start visiting. Your “top ten” questions may include pricing, floor plan sizes and layouts, future care, services and amenities and the types of social opportunities available.
Once you set foot on a community’s property you quickly discover differences. Just like people, Life Plan Communities have different personalities. Some seem formal while others have a warm, friendly feeling. One community may sit on a large piece of property with open space while another is set on a small property and feature high-rises.
As you learn more about each community and meet with the community’s sales representative, you either start to imagine yourself living there or you are quietly planning your exit!
Even if you cannot imagine yourself in the physical setting, pay attention to certain nuances as you are learning more about the community. Are staff and residents smiling and greeting you as they walk by? Do you even see many residents while you are on your tour? When you ask direct questions about financial stability and future care quality, are you getting a straightforward answer? (These are questions you should be asking).
Does the sales representative talk negatively about the competing communities? (This is poor practice). It is just as important to get a feeling for the staff at a community as this gives a good indication of the community culture. How is staff turnover?
Is this community a “stand-alone” or is it part of a larger corporate structure? Does this matter to you?
At Meadowood, we recommend only visiting one community per day. We see many people bleary-eyed and overwhelmed, sometimes visiting two or three communities in one day! It is overwhelming and you need to allow yourself the time to visit, absorb the information and then go home to regroup, take notes and analyze what you just learned.
Any reputable community will follow up with you in the days that follow your visit. Once you’ve visited several communities it is a good idea to whittle down the list to your top two or three. Visit again and have a cup of coffee or a meal with a resident. These visits are invaluable. You can get a true sense of the community life as well as learn why they made the decision. One sentiment you will hear from one of Meadowood’s residents is: “don’t wait, move in while you can enjoy everything the community has to offer!” We couldn’t agree more.
We’ve gathered a few websites that have lists of questions to ask during your visits. We wish you good luck in your search!