Once you’ve made the decision to move to an independent living community, the next step is making an informed decision about which one. Finding a community in Florida that will meet your needs and feel like home is your ultimate goal. If you’ve never been through this process before, we know it can be a bit intimidating.

Understanding what to look for when you visit, which questions to ask the staff, and how to objectively compare one community with another will help you feel more confident.

Here’s what you should know and consider.

1: Make a List of Priorities

It will be easy to get distracted by plush amenities and a long list of services once you begin visiting senior communities in Florida. Before you make the first call or schedule the first tour, sit down and think about what your priorities for moving are. Is it the security of knowing peers and staff members are nearby? Maintenance-free living? Do you have a furry friend you won’t move without? Or maybe you are looking for a community that offers onsite wellness programs? Give careful thought to what is most important to you and write those priorities down on a list. Keep those top of mind as you talk with and tour senior communities in Florida.

2: Listen to Those You Trust

Asking for feedback from people you trust can help when you are searching for a senior community in your local area. Talk with friends, colleagues, and people you may know from your religious organization who have been through this with a senior in their family. They can provide you with an insider’s view of a Florida community you might be considering. Most adults who have been through this process know how overwhelming it can be and are generally willing to share their feedback.

3: Location, Location

Another consideration in your search should be the location in Florida. While it shouldn’t be the determining factor, in most cases location does play an important role. Do you want to be closer to your old neighborhood and the friends you made there? Or is moving closer to an adult child your goal? Also consider things like where your physicians’ offices are or how easy it will be to access your religious services if that is an important part of your life.

4: Services and Amenities

Once you’ve talked with people you know and done some online research, put together a list of senior living communities to learn more about. Then block out uninterrupted time to call each of them. Your goal is to sort out which communities warrant a personal visit and which ones you can take off your list. Asking these questions can help you decide:

  • Do they have any apartments or condominiums available? If not, how long is their wait list?
  • How much should you expect to pay each month? Also ask if there are hefty entrance fees and other expenses you will be required to pay. Equally important, what happens to those fees if you move out?
  • Ask what services, support, and amenities are included in the monthly fee. Also inquire about what additional fees you are likely to incur.
  • Finally, refer back to the priority list you created. How does the community stack up with the items you determined were most important?

5: Use Your Eyes and Ears

An important step in making an informed decision is to visit each senior community you are considering several times. Take pen and paper along with you. Ask questions, watch, and listen to what goes on around you. Remember to take very detailed notes, including documenting your overall feelings and impression of each community. You might think you will remember, but if you are visiting more than one or two communities, it will be easy to get them confused. Here are a few tips on what to pay attention to when you make your visits:

  • Is the neighborhood clean and safe?
  • What kind of security does the community offer?
  • Do staff members and residents seem engaged with one another?
  • Do staff members greet you when you pass them?
  • Is the community clean and in good repair?
  • Are formal or informal life enrichment activities taking place? Ask for a copy of the last few months’ activity calendars.
  • Does the private apartment space look like the right size?
  • Ask about the hiring and screening process for staff members. Do they go through a background check?
  • What is the staff turnover rate?
  • Finally, will you be required to sign a contract, and how long of a time period does it cover?

6: Review and Return

Once you have made an in-person visit to each of the communities you are considering, it’s time to review your notes and narrow down your list. You might need to make follow-up calls to find the answers to any questions you forgot to ask. Then make plans to visit each community that made your short list again, possibly during the evening or on a weekend. That will give you a true picture of what goes on in the community when management isn’t around.

We hope this information guides you through your search and helps give you confidence in the decision you make.

Have more questions about senior living communities in Florida?

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Scheduling a visit is the best way to get a feel for our community. During your visit, you'll be able to experience different living options, check out our numerous amenities, and speak to residents.

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