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5 Things to Avoid When Looking for a Senior Living Community


The search for a perfect retirement community can seem never-ending. Whether you’re looking for yourself or a loved one, finding the right combination of freedom and security is almost reminiscent of Goldilocks and her bowl of porridge: You probably don’t want too much of something or too little – it has to be just right.

The choices may seem endless, but when you know what to look for (or what not to look for), those choices become a lot easier to sort through. So without further ado, here are five things you’ll want to avoid in a senior living community as you explore your options:

1: Poor Care Options

What would a retirement plan be without a sense of security for the future? While many of the new senior living communities offer continuing care to their residents through the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) structure, some offer little to no health care and wellness options as you age. This can cause problems down the line, forcing those who thought they had made their last move to reluctantly move again to a more care-focused location.

It was this growing inconvenience that caused retirement communities to think about care differently and ultimately led to the CCRC, or Life Plan Community, model. Living in a location that offers assisted living and memory care options on-site guarantees you’ll never have to worry about changing your address again. And since most CCRCs offer some form of primary care on campus as well, even routine checkups are just minutes away.

2: Lack of Independence

One of the biggest stereotypes around senior living communities is those who live in them are confined to the community itself. That’s probably because this generation of retirees watched their parents make the move to an old-fashioned retirement home, complete with hospital-like decor, mediocre food, and a rocking chair in the corner. There wasn’t much to do or see, and oftentimes, there was a limit on where residents could go outside of the campus.

However, things have changed drastically since then. Retirement looks different today than it did in the past. In fact, many communities have adopted a resort-style structure – one that lends itself to an independent lifestyle with the freedom to come and go as you please. Communities like this also tend to offer some form of complimentary transportation as well as group outings and trips to places nearby.

3: An Undesirable Location

As humans, it’s natural for us to find comfort in habit. Having a routine is known to reduce stress, improve sleep, and even increase our feelings of security. However, it also can be the thing that holds us back from venturing outside of our comfort zones or moving to a new location. In fact, almost 72% of Americans live in or within close proximity to the city they grew up in, according to Pew Research Center.

The point here is sometimes change can be a good thing. Don’t box yourself into one specific township or state when searching for the right location. As you visit your potential retirement destinations, be sure to look at more than the campus itself. What’s nearby? Is there a downtown area you can go  for a fun night out? Any hiking trails, fishing spots, or mountain views? Whatever speaks to your personal sense of adventure, make sure there’s plenty of it wherever you decide to live during your years in retirement.

4: A Short List of Amenities

Regardless of the location, you’ll want to be able to enjoy yourself on a rainy day or have something to show off when you have guests over to visit. Because of this, finding a community with lots of amenities is an important part of your overall retirement experience.

Many senior living campuses offer things like a fitness room or a wellness center, but they aren’t all built the same. This is also true with things like on-campus dining options and even housekeeping services. For example, if home maintenance services are minimal or the food options are limited for a visitor, chances are you can expect the same level of service as a member of the community. Even a lack of community spaces could be a red flag, as it can affect your ability to interact with neighbors and make friends in your new home.

5: Bad Reviews

You aren’t the first person to search for a retirement destination, so don’t let yourself think this is something you need to conquer on your own. While we all love word-of-mouth for its reliability, the internet has made it easy to find testimonials from anyone who has visited anywhere. Websites like Yelp and Google have millions of reviews for restaurants, hotels, even beaches – and senior living communities are no different.

Make sure to do your research before visiting. Take a look online to see the experiences others have had and see if it matches up with your understanding of the community. Or, if you visit and feel like you had a particularly memorable experience (good or bad), be sure to leave a review of your own to help the next person in their search!

Choose the Best Retirement Experience for You

The key is to experience as much as you can about these communities while keeping in mind what it would be like to be a resident there. At Viamonte at Walnut Creek, we’ve taken all of these ideas into account as we have worked to create a Continuing Care Retirement Community that speaks to the wants and needs of our residents. It’s just another reason we encourage you to visit us at our location in Northern California, in the desirable city of Walnut Creek.

If you think Viamonte could be the right move for you or a loved one, please take a look at the rest of our website for more information or give us a call at 925.621.6600.

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