How to Tour a 55+ Community
Age-restricted communities, whether they’re described as “life care,” active adult, or 55+ communities, are increasingly popular with older adults. Empty nesters who are done spending weekends on chores flock to 55+ communities for the amenities they offer and for the prospect of home and health care as they age. Thinking about it? Here’s how to tour a 55+ community and get the information you need to plan your next move.
Planning your visits
Ideally, you’ll visit each community on your list more than once and eat a meal or two at each place to check out the menu, the dining service, and the social vibe.
When you schedule your tours, ask about meal times and prices. Take family members or friends with you if you can. They may notice details or ask questions you might overlook, and you can talk over your impressions with them later.
What to look for during visits
Show up a few minutes early in good walking shoes or with your mobility gear. During your tour, look for:
- well-maintained buildings and grounds
- safe and accessible walkways, public areas, and building entrances
- security or restricted access to ensure residents’ safety
Talk to the “locals”
If you have a chance to talk with residents, try to get a read on the social scene. For extroverts, are there enough group activity options to keep you feeling content and socially connected? For introverts, does the community provide time and space for solitary pursuits and quiet activities? For everyone, is the staff pleasant and responsive to residents’ needs?
Ask lots of questions
Your tour guide expects questions, so ask away and take notes. Some topics to cover are:
- Are there onsite health and wellness services such as a nurse, a massage therapist, or pharmacy?
- Are there high-quality healthcare resources nearby such as a regional medical center?
- When might you need to move to a different unit or building? When might you need to move out of the community?
- Can the kitchen accommodate special diets?
- Is there space you can reserve for special occasions?
- Are pets welcome?
- Are there age limits on who can visit you and for how long?
- What are residents’ transportation options?
- What’s included in the monthly rate and what’s available for an extra fee?
- Are deposits refundable, and if so, under what conditions?
After your 55+ community tour
Review your notes and brochures from each community visit. Compare notes with friends or relatives who went with you. Follow up with your tour guide if you have more questions, and check out online reviews by current and former residents. Make follow-up visits to the places that are most appealing and take the time to understand over each community’s policies before you make your choice.