Jul 27, 2022

5 Things to Know Before Moving to a Senior Living Community

Manny Cominsky

Thinking about making the move to a senior living community? You may qualify for a free move! Click here to learn more.

Moving to a senior living community is an incredibly exciting time as it lets you drop the burdens, chores, and expenses of home ownership and focus on the things you care most about in your retirement, like traveling, hobbies, or seeing family. To make the most of your move it’s important to make sure that you find the right community for you, ensuring not only that it has the right amenities, programs, and care options for your lifestyle, but also that the community fits within your budget. Following these five tips will help make sure your senior living search gets off on the right foot, and get you ready to start touring communities.

There are several types of senior living community options

There are several different types of senior living communities, each of which provide their own unique benefits and amenities that are tailored to your lifestyle. While you can get an in-depth explanation of each type of community in our blog post on the topic located here, senior living communities generally come in several standard varieties, including: independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing facilities, and continuing care retirement communities (or CCRC’s). 

Independent living communities are amenity-rich, apartment style communities with resort-style offerings from movie theaters to yoga classes.

The type of senior living community that is appropriate for you will largely depend on whether you need daily assistance (or any assistance at all). Independent living communities are designed for older adults who neither need nor want daily assistance, and often resemble amenity-rich apartment communities. These communities are designed for you to live a completely independent life by taking care of boring or difficult tasks of homeownership like doing the laundry or mowing the lawn. For those who require small amounts of daily care, usually with tasks like changing or preparing food, there are assisted living communities. Contrary to what some believe, assisted living communities are not medical facilities, and for those with more advanced care needs there are memory care for those who need assistance with advanced memory ailments like Alzheimer’s and dementia, or skilled nursing facilities for broader, round-the-clock medical care. Finally, CCRC’s offer several types of senior living options all under one roof, allowing residents to move from independent living, to assisted living, to memory care or skilled nursing as they age, all while staying in the same facility. Not only do some people like the stability that this brings, but CCRC’s often will charge a flat fee across their facilities, meaning that you will not pay higher monthly rates as you progress through a CCRC’s living options.  

Costs increase with level of care provided

Another thing to keep in mind about the different types of senior living communities is that communities that provide a lot of care can sometimes be fairly expensive. For memory care facilities, the national average price per month is roughly $5,300, and for skilled nursing facilities the rate per month can often be $7,000 or $8,000 a month. So while life in a senior living community can certainly help streamline bills and reduce costs, you should still be aware that your monthly rate will nevertheless increase should you require more care. While some people assume that the costs they pay for independent living reflect what they will pay across communities, it’s important for your own planning purposes to remember that as level of care increases, so too does cost.

Senior living communities can help simplify your finances

One significant perk of moving to a senior living community is that, because the community collects one monthly check covering both your rent and all the included amenities and services, you can consolidate most of your monthly bills into one single payment. This single monthly payment will generally cover things like: cleaning and housekeeping, repairs,  landscaping, utilities and internet bills, and a gym or fitness center. Along with these services, many senior living communities also include in their monthly payment several, if not all, of your meals, meaning yet another set of expenses that are included in your rent. 

Senior living communities can help residents simplify and reduce monthly payments.

Along with making your payments simpler by consolidating so many bills into a single monthly charge, life in a senior living community can often lead to significant savings as well. Oftentimes communities are able to offer services in-house, like access to a gym or personal fitness classes, at a cheaper rate than you would be able to otherwise find. Another significant source of savings can be from no longer needing to pay for a car, as many times senior living communities include in their monthly rental fee transportation services. For many, no longer needing to pay for a car can represent significant monthly savings.

You should book a tour and see the community yourself

While it might feel obvious that you can book a tour at a community before moving in, we’ve found that people sometimes overlook this incredibly important step because they assume they can learn all they need from a community’s website or brochure. While some senior living communities do have amazingly informative and up to date websites and marketing materials, this isn’t always the case. Also, even if a community has a nice website with plenty of informative photos, it can sometimes be hard to judge relative size in a photograph, and so it’s good to make sure that everything, from your room to the community’s pool, is the right size for you. Another good thing about going on a tour is that seeing a community in person lets you pick up on things that would not appear in a photo, like the level of cleanliness or the manner in which the staff go about the community and interact with residents and one another. It’s important to try and get as much of a feel as possible for the community before moving in to make sure that you’ll feel comfortable and at home.

Make sure to ask about a community’s amenities and programs

While the fact that a community has a swimming pool or a movie theater might be obvious with no more diligence than taking a tour or viewing a community’s website, there may be less obvious parts of a community’s offerings that you should make sure to explore, like all the programs available at their various facilities. For example, if a community has a fitness center make sure to ask about further fitness options like group classes or personal instructors. As another example, some communities have cultural programs like lectures or adult education classes. It’s important to fully explore a community’s programming options not only so that you know what’s available to you, but also to know whether there are any fees associated with use of the amenities or for joining in any programs. Finally, make sure to confirm who is in charge of activities at a community, as some communities have dedicated activities directors or other support staff which can help you take advantage of all that a community has to offer.

If you want to learn more about moving to a senior living community, or about moving during your retirement more generally (whether it’s around the country or around the block), Sunbound is here to help. Sunbound is the best way to pay for senior living. If you want to learn more about how Sunbound can help make senior living more affordable for residents and easier to manage for communities, email us at info@sunboundhomes.com or request a demo here. Sunbound is on a mission to make senior living more affordable for everyone.

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