When deciding which Life Plan Community is the best fit for you, one of the best things you can do is visit.
It might sound simple, but it’s a crucial step in choosing a Life Plan Community (also known as a continuing care retirement community).
When you do visit, there are certain things you’ll want to look at while you’re there. Here’s list of the top 8 things to look for and do when touring a retirement community.
Life Plan Community Tour Checklist: What to Do and Look For
1. Examine their activities/life enrichment opportunities. While you’re visiting the retirement community, take a peek at an activity or two to see if it’s something you would enjoy.
Of course, every day brings something different to a quality Life Plan Community, so be sure to check their activity and event calendars to see if they have a good sampling of things you might enjoy.
If you look at a calendar and find yourself thinking “That sounds interesting—I’d like to go to that!”, it’s an indication that the community is a good fit for you.
2. Look at common areas, apartment homes, and grounds. Take a full tour of as many different areas as possible. Try to get a sense of whether or not you could see yourself living there.
Most Life Plan Communities offer different independent living apartment floor plans. Try to tour apartment homes that represent the different layouts and ask for the floor plans themselves to take home to study on your own.
3. Tour the different areas of the community. The benefit of a Life Plan Community is that it offers a continuum of care to residents with independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing care. That means no matter what your future health needs are, they can all be met on one campus.
4. Take note of how many happy faces you see. Do you see a lot of happy faces, both residents and staff? This is important. Happy staff members mean they love their jobs and enjoy what they do. Happy residents mean the staff is doing their job well, and the community is providing them with an enriching, active lifestyle.
5. Trust your instincts. What kind of feel do you get for the place — what vibes are you sensing? This really doesn’t need an explanation because it’s all instinctual. Do you feel comfortable? Or is there some unexplainable detail that bothers you?
Ultimately, choosing a retirement community comes down to your level of comfort and happiness. If it doesn’t feel like a good fit, it won’t matter what amenities are offered or what contract type you choose. Although those things are important, first and foremost it needs to feel like home.
6. Look at what residents are doing, and don’t be afraid to interact with them. Do you see residents around going about their day? Talk with them!
You may even have time built into the tour to speak with residents. This helps you get a real, unfiltered look at what life at the community is really like, as well as giving you a chance to get a feel for the people who may one day become your neighbors.
7. Watch how the staff and residents interact. Staff members make up a substantial fraction of the community, so it’s only natural that they affect the overall environment. Try to observe how staff members get along with residents.
Also, do staff speak with/acknowledge each other? Seeing the staff interact positively with each other is just as crucial. It goes back to point 4 — you want to live in a place where people enjoy being.
8. Check out a menu or two. Last but not least, the food! You’ll want to know that you’ll like the food at this place you’re considering, so ask if you can see some menu samples.
And while you’re at it, when touring dining areas make sure you’re taking note of how clean everything is. Most Life Plan Communities or CCRCs are scrupulously clean to meet stringent health guidelines, but it doesn’t hurt to check.
Scheduling a Visit
You always have the option of dropping by a community without scheduling a tour. This lets you see the community on an ordinary day and might help you get some initial impressions.
However, most Life Plan Community or CCRCs are happy to offer scheduled tours. Scheduling a tour ensures that there will be someone available to show you around and answer your questions about the community, as well as arrange for you to meet with residents.