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Tips for Independent Living
By Eve Gutwirth

As Healthcare Administrators and Senior Living developers work to meet the needs and demands of the expanding Boomer population by building new retirement communities, many may be overwhelmed by the various living options and amenities. This situation could lead to decisions being postponed until it's too late to take advantage of the lifestyle these communities offer.

So which place is right for you? Longwood at Oakmont Executive Director, Tama Carey, and Marketing Director, Lindsay Coulter, provide the following tips and questions to ask when considering a move to an independent living community.

  1. Take a look under the hood! It is important to visit the community and get a general idea of its culture.
    Is it clean and well-kept? If it's an established community, when was it last renovated, and how often are upgrades and renovations made to the campus and individual living areas?Is the community financially-stable? During a tour or visit to the community, you should be offered an annual disclosure statement that provides information about the day-to-day operations and financial statements of the community. If you're not offered one, don't be afraid to ask to see a disclosure statement. What are the values of the organization and do they align with yours? How involved are residents in the day-to-day life of the community? Are there resident run committees? Is there resident representation on the board of directors of the organization?
  2. Many communities have several hundred residents. Therefore, when considering a community it is a good idea to attend community sponsored events to be able to meet residents and staff, and get a first hand impression of what it's like to live there.
  3. Are you a fitness fanatic? Do you like to paint, knit, attend educational classes, travel or garden? Almost every community offers some type of activities program, but finding a community that offers programs that you have a special interest in is essential. If they do not offer a program you might be interested in, you should find out how willing the community is to create new groups/activities.
  4. How does a community handle conflict and issues? Be prepared with scenarios (i.e. switching residences, neighbor disagreements, landscaping preferences) and ask staff members how these issues would be handled.
  5. Don't assume you cannot afford to live at a retirement community. Many communities offer special programs and incentives to help people move and afford the lifestyle. For example at Longwood at Oakmont, we have the Home Sales Solutions program, which provides future residents with the ability to move into the community while they sell their home, access to real estate consulting services and discounts from our preferred partners. We are also now offering reduced entrance fees on select residences.
  6. Also, don't forget to ask about the community's health care options should you need to take advantage of them later in life. Are services offered in your home or are there separate wings for Rehab Therapy, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing or Memory Care? If the community offers healthcare services, what is their Certified Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) quality rating?
  7. Finally, similar to buying a home, make a list of lifestyle amenities that are important prior to visiting a community, and use this as a guide when speaking with the marketing staff and residents. Your goal is to choose a community that best matches your lifestyle now and in the future. Making a move is always a big decision. However, remember to make this one while you can still enjoy the full benefit a community has to offer.

For more information, visit www.longwoodatoakmont.com.

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