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What to Look for When Choosing an Independent Living Home

Categories: Blog, Family Support

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December 17, 2019

When the time comes to look for an independent living community, you may not know where to start. There are many choices in the area and at first glance, it may not be obvious which is right for you. We’ve listed some criteria of things to look for to help narrow your search and find the place you want to call home.  

Narrow Your Search By Area

A good way to start your search is to narrow down the areas you’d like to live. Think about what your priorities are, would you like to stay nearby, or would you prefer to move closer to family? Maybe there’s a part of the country you always wanted to live, and now is an opportunity to do that.

Once you’ve got a search area, start looking for homes you’d like to visit. Get in touch with them and find out what they have to offer and what makes them unique. Some good questions to ask are: 

Does the Home Connect With the Broader Community?

Having the ability to spend time emerged in the broader community enhances your feeling of independence and autonomy. You might enjoy walking the streets, strolling through the mall or meeting family members at a coffee shop in town. 

See if the independent living community allows such freedom. Do they have events nights where non-residents can participate? Do they host trips to nearby locations? Do they enable you to lead the life you want to live? 

What are the transportation options? 

If the facility is well integrated with the community, do they have a system in place that allows their residents to get the most out of where they’re living? 

Some homes encourage residents to explore more than just the property. To make this easier for their residents, they’ll make deals with local transit and transportation companies such as Uber and taxi services. Others will host events in the community and provide busses as a means of transportation. 

What Dietary Options are Provided? 

Find out if meals are eaten at the same time, with limited variation in the menu, or if residents can eat when they want. All facilities will provide catering for their residents but many have limited options and times for eating. Some also charge extra for specific meals. If you’re someone who enjoys variety in their meals and dining venues then look for a place that has multiple options, and that encourages residents to eat when they want, not when they’re scheduled.

What are Their Activities Like?

Take some time to consider what your favourite activities are. What is it you find most meaningful and engaging? Then check to see if any of the communities you’re looking at provide the opportunity to explore your interests. Are there activities you would like to explore that you haven’t before?  An independent living facility invested in its residents understands that there will be a diversity of interests amongst the group and plans accordingly.

Do I have Choice Over My Accommodations?

One size of room may not be appropriate for everyone. Some may want multiple rooms while others are happy with a studio, or want to be nearer the dining room or elevator. Check to see if you have some flexibility in the size, layout and location layout of your room. 

What Are The Staff Like?

Surround yourself with the best group of servers, chefs, nurses, doctors, and other staff members possible. Find a place where the staff work hard to make your life richer and more engaging. 

When you book a tour at a home, take the time to have a conversation with the staff members. You will be spending a lot of time of their company so it’s wise to make sure you feel comfortable in their presence. 

What is Their Approach to Care?

Check the facilities approach to caregiving. Do they provide best practices training for their nurses? Have they taken measures to prevent falls and other accidents, and do they have systems in place to easily detect and respond to such incidents? Look for places that are always on the lookout for new ways to keep their residents safe.

There’s a certain peace of mind in knowing that the facility you’ve chosen has put as much thought and care into their decisions as you’ve put into yours. A place that works to the benefit of its residents and has the staff to prove it.

Also look for options that provide longevity and flexible care options. Can they manage your medications or schedule doctors appointments if it becomes necessary? A place that can adapt to your needs is a place you can call home for a long time. 

Are They Upfront About Costs?

Some places are not transparent about what is and is not included in the basic price. This can leave a bad taste in people’s mouths as they end up paying more than they had budgeted for. See if the people you talk to are upfront about what they include in the base cost and what they charge extra how (and how much). 

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you’re paying for before you make any decision.


We have provided a few things for you to consider when looking for an independent care facility. Making sure that you feel comfortable, safe, and cared for is the most important part of choosing your new home. 

We have a tour checklist you might find useful.