Moving into an independent living community is a big change for seniors who are used to being responsible for home maintenance and all the other aspects of daily life. We've gathered some tips from Brightview residents to help make the transition easier for you as you explore prospective communities and eventually follow through with your move.
1. Familiarize Yourself With the Pet Policies
If you're a pet parent, finding a community that welcomes your four-legged companion is a priority. Many pet-friendly senior living communities allow cats and dogs. Some even let you bring birds and fish. Important things to ask:
- Is there a pet size limit?
- How many pets can I bring?
- Do I have to pay a pet deposit or an additional monthly fee?
- Is there a dog park or other designated outdoor area for my pet?
- Does the community provide some level of pet care for residents?
2. Explore the Dining Program
Cooking is optional at most independent living communities, and many pride themselves on chef-prepared daily menus. Visit prospective communities at mealtimes to assess the fare. Most are happy to invite you to lunch or dinnerto show off what they offer. Do you need a special diet for medical reasons? Is the culinary staff able to accommodate that consistently and cheerfully? Ask questions during your visit to find out.
3. Interview Current Residents
Spend some time on the campus chatting with seniors who live there. Some questions to ask might include:
- Do you feel safe?
- Is management quick to respond to concerns, suggestions or maintenance issues?
- Does the activities program keep you busy and inspired?
- Are you glad you made the move from your home into this community?
4. Scope Out the Neighborhood
The location of your independent living community can be an important consideration, especially if you don't drive. Do you prefer to see lush green landscapes from your windows, or are you a city dweller who likes to walk to your bank, grocery store and favorite café? Are the amenities you use most within a reasonable distance, and does the community provide complimentary transportation to make it easy for you to run errands and arrive at personal appointments on time?
5. Do the Math
Only you can determine if you're financially better off living in a senior retirement community or aging in place at home. Once you calculate your current monthly costs — mortgage, maintenance, taxes, insurance, utilities, groceries, gasoline, car repairs — and factor in any home care assistance or safety upgrades your house might need as you age, you can get a good idea of your overall costs.
Imagine trading in all those expenses for one monthly fee that includes:
- Linen laundry service
- Prepared meals
- Interior and exterior maintenance
- Cultural events, educational opportunities, fitness classes and health screenings
If you feel relieved and excited at the thought, that's a good sign you might enjoy a maintenance-free lifestyle in an independent living community.
6. Know Your Floor plan
Either take a tape measure along on a visit to your new residence or ask the community for a floor plan with measurements. Once you know exactly how much space you'll have, it's easier to decide which of your favorite furnishings can come along and which items you'll need to sell, donate or give to family.
7. Pack Strategically
You might have decades' worth of household items to go through, especially if you haven't moved in a long time. Many people find it helpful to make a list off the top of their head of the most treasured items that bring them joy. The theory is, if you walk through your home opening drawers and closets, the visual cues might trigger a desire to take objects that you really don't need. You want to be discriminating and only move your most prized possessions that will make your new residence feel like home.
8. Socialize With Other Residents (Even If You'd Rather Not)
Try to reach out to other residents shortly after you move. Connecting with peers can help you integrate into the community quicker, increasing your comfort levels. Stop by the complimentary happy hour, or introduce yourself to other residents who gather in the coffee shop or pub for midday snacks.
9. Ask Friends and Family to Visit Often
Send out an "I'm moving" note to your closest friends, and invite them to come see your new home. Take advantage of lovely landscaping by sharing a beverage in the gazebo or rose garden or enjoy time indoors in public sitting areas. Many independent living communities have a private dining room where you can host small dinner parties.
10. Be Patient With Yourself During the Adjustment Process
Moving is one of life's most stressful events, even if you're excited about the change. Give yourself as much time as you need to acclimate, and ask other residents or the community staff for support. While you adjust to your new surroundings and new faces, remember that many seniors end up wondering, "Why didn't I do this years ago?" once they settle into their new communities.
Selecting a senior living community is a big decision. Brightview has created a step-by-step guide to help you choose the right independent living community for your needs.