Asking The Right Questions Before Choosing A Retirement Community

April 17, 2019

This may not come as a shock, but not all retirement communities are created equal. With over 10,000 boomers turning 65 years old every day in America, more and more senior living communities are popping up everywhere to meet the demand—each with their own unique features, services, and benefits. The issue is, as a potential resident, it’s up to you to determine which is right for you. But don’t worry. You’re not in this alone.

Here is a short list of questions you need to ask any retirement community before you pick a winner. These simple questions will not only help you make the best decision for you and your family, but they may also help you identify what is most important to you as you plan for this exciting time in your life!


What is included in the monthly fee?

Aside from “what will it cost me?” this may be the most frequently asked question when investigating retirement communities. Most Life Plan Communities/CCRCs (continued care retirement communities) have monthly costs or service package fees that cover the majority of your daily living expenses. However, it’s always smart to find out what is specifically included in that fee to make sure you know what you’re paying for—and that you’re getting your money’s worth.


How do you help me maintain my freedom and independence?

A major fear surrounding the idea of moving to a retirement community is that you are giving up and resigning yourself to a sterile, hospital-like room with restrictions on every aspect of your independence, lifestyle desires, and environment. You’ll quickly find that most Life Plan Communities are not like this at all. But what you might not see immediately is how they proactively enable your prolonged independence. This should be among a community’s priority goals for residents. Make sure you ask about specific features, amenities, and services offered to create or maintain independent living, such as dining, fitness, and leisure options.


What kind of emergency systems are in place?

At first blush, this may seem like a silly question to ask, especially if emergency response isn’t at the top of your list of concerns at the moment. However, emergency response is a critical component to factor in when deciding between communities. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you have 24-hour security and medical response team on campus now and in the future is priceless should an emergency occur pertaining to your health.


What is the difference between living in a Life Plan Community and living in an assisted living or care center facility?

Generally speaking, Life Plan Communities focus more on independent living and healthy aging. The idea is that they are able to provide a host of amenities, features, and services to correspond with whatever needs or lifestyle desires you may have at whatever stage of life you find yourself in. With an assisted living or care center community, many of the features may be different or limited to what that particular community chooses to focus on. It is important to ask questions to get a clear understanding of those differences, as well as to know what levels of care are offered based on needs or change.


Can you remain in independent living when your needs change?

As much as we’d like to hide from it, the reality is our health changes as we age. Stopping the aging process by moving into a retirement community may not be possible, but having the right care and programs at your convenience is. Many Life Plan Communities offer a continuum of healthcare services to support healthy aging in place. This means you won’t be required to move or seek different accommodations as your health needs change over time. Be sure to ask how each community specifically handles current and future health needs.


Can you tell me the five most popular programs in your community?

There is nothing wrong with asking questions—and the more you ask, the more informed and comfortable you’ll be with your ultimate decision. Asking questions about programs and activities will help you determine the range of possibilities available, as well as the likelihood of finding something you’re interested in. Most communities, such as Life Plan Communities, typically have a resident-driven committee in place that implements and develops new and existing clubs, groups, and activities based on community interest and feedback. Having regular engagement between administration and residents is key.

To learn more about Life Plan Communities and how to make the most of your retirement, visit