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Questions to Ask When Choosing Senior Living Community

When considering a senior living community, finding the one that best fits your personal goals and needs can fill you with a new sense of hope and a plan for your next life stage. And because more than 56 million seniors are making their wants and needs clear, many great options exist today. The key lies in choosing the right community for you, which is why we’ve put together a list of questions we think you’ll find helpful that you can take with you when you start touring senior living communities.

Senior living communities are not one size fits all.

When evaluating your options, it’s important to read marketing materials, attend events, and tour each community. But the most important thing you can do to increase the likelihood of finding the perfect fit is to be proactive in asking questions that relate to your personal wants and needs.


Most independent living senior communities offer a selection of home options for you to choose from. You’ll want to know what your options are and what’s included.

  • What are my home options? (villas, condominiums, apartments, etc.)
  • How many bedrooms and bathrooms?
  • What’s the square footage?
  • Can I customize my home?
  • Are routine maintenance and repairs included?
  • Is exterior maintenance covered?
  • Who covers the cost of electricity, gas, water, and trash pickup?
  • Is housekeeping included?
  • May I have pets?
  • Do any of the homes have garages and/or additional storage?


Questions about affordability and pricing are at the top of everyone’s list when looking for retirement communities. Being clear on the price is important.

  • Is there an upfront fee? (sometimes called entrance fee or buy-in fee)
  • What are your plans and pricing structure?
  • What is the monthly fee?
  • What does the price cover? What items are additional?
  • Do fees increase annually?
  • How will the price change if I move to a different level of care? (for example, from independent living to assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing)


Independent living residences have their own kitchens. Even so, many prefer the convenience and ambiance of restaurant-style dining onsite. Having the option means they can cook when they want and dine out when they don’t. Most communities offer several dining venues that differ by type of cuisine, dress code, hours, and aesthetic. It’s important that these onsite venues align with your preferences and will make your dining experience enjoyable.

  • Is there an available dining program or culinary allowance? If so, how many meals are included?
  • May I look at the current menu? (Ask for a copy)
  • Are friends and family able to join me for dinner?
  • Is there a dress code?
  • Do you offer private dining for special events?
  • Can you request meal variations or substitutions?
  • What types of dining venues are available? (dining room, to-go, casual/bistro, private)

Social & Wellness

Social interactions and staying active play a crucial role in the quality of life for independent living residents. Housing options, dining, and community amenities are important, but remember to ask about a community’s social events, activities, classes, and outings.

  • What does your life enrichment calendar look like? (Ask for a copy)
  • What kind of events/activities/classes do you offer?
  • Does your calendar change month-to-month?
  • What clubs do you offer?
  • Do you plan trips outside of the community?
  • Do you have a pool, fitness studio, and wellness center?

Care Services

Choosing a community that offers multiple levels of care means the convenience of aging in place with a community and care team you’re familiar with. It also means couples can often stay together on the same campus even when their needs are no longer the same.

  • What services or levels of care do you offer (e.g., assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing, and rehabilitation)?
  • Can you continue to live in your home and access these services?
  • What is your staffing ratio?
  • Do your staff members have a certification or degree?
  • Do you have staff available 24/7?
  • Do you have an in-house physician?
  • Do you have any specialty licensing beyond the “standard” (e.g., ECC, LNS, or LMH)?
  • Can I tour your care communities?

A Few More Important Questions

In addition to the very specific questions above, there are general questions that help you to determine if the community is right for you.

  • How many residents live in the community?
  • What is the average age of residents?
  • Do you have security onsite, and is the community gated?
  • What is the protocol in case of hurricane or other inclement weather?

The truth is, asking the right questions will empower you to make the best decision. But before you decide, you have one more thing to do. We recommend that you chat with current residents. They can tell you better than anyone what life is like in their community.

Senior living communities are as different as the people who live in them and the towns and cities they’re part of. Once you decide on a preferred location, you can start looking in the area. Communities like Jacaranda Trace, in beautiful Venice, Florida, are sought after for their ideal location and club-style indulgent lifestyle. To learn more about Jacaranda Trace and all it has to offer, call (941) 408-2040.