Evaluating Retirement Communities


How should you evaluate them?

You’re lucky to have retirement living choices in the Jackson area, and while you have probably done research online, visiting the communities you’re curious about offers invaluable evidence that leads to sound decisions. With the following guidance in mind, we recommend visits to your top-choice communities, using the following five criteria to help evaluate your options.

>Mission and Purpose. The differences that separate one retirement community from the next could be as simple as comparing what each stands for, and you’ll find community websites like this one can yield valuable insights.

Key Question: Is the retirement option you’re considering a not-for-profit community with a focus on their residents’ future—or some outside investors? Ask the staff when you drop by. Find out whose bottom line they’re most interested in. Naturally, it should be yours.

>First Impressions. Don’t underestimate your instincts. How a community makes you feel can be critical. Yes, it’s far from the only factor on which to base your decision, but factor in your initial thoughts when visiting what could be your retirement future. If the community passes your first-impression test, proceed to closer evaluation.

Key Questions: Is the environment warm, friendly and receptive? Is the food appetizing and dining room appealing? Are the residents smiling, engaged and having fun? Observe and chat with residents to make sure others can confirm your first impression is a valid one 

>Social Opportunities. Drop by any retirement community and they’ll share their monthly calendar of activities. (Some even post their current calendar on their website.) Make sure they offer a breadth and depth of enrichment-oriented programming. Bingo and a monthly birthday party for residents is not enough to keep most independent living residents entertained and stimulated emotionally, educationally, recreationally and spiritually.

Key Questions: When you look at the community events calendar, do you see a variety of activities that interest you? Maybe a new hobby you’d like to try? Are fitness classes and programs offered at different times of the day so you can get the exercise you want and need if you have to miss one? To picture what life is like at the community, it pays to give the calendar more than a cursory glance.

>Levels of Service. There are many types of retirement communities to choose from, providing different levels of support for the future—should you ever need them. You may be comfortable moving repeatedly, but if you’re hoping to make a move that ensures options for the long term, a Life Plan community offering additional levels of support and care could be exactly what you’re looking for. 

Key Questions: What if I’m diagnosed with an in injury, illness or disease right after move-in? Are there health care options on campus? Are my costs covered—or do I pay extra for them? If the unpredictability of your health care future is important, ask the staff to clearly explain your options at each community. For many seniors, it truly is a deciding factor.

>Costs. Determining the price of residency at a retirement community is only one part of the big financial picture. But it’s always wise to make sure policy and billing details are clear to you. Ask to view the residency or rental agreement. Some simply charge a monthly rental fee. Others charge an entry fee that is partially refundable and covers the costs of Lifecare. Learn about refunds and stipulations of moving in and out. 

Key Question: What’s the fee structure and what is covered? The up-front entry fee charged with Lifecare communities, for example, may require a larger initial capital investment. But, when you add up the priceless peace-of-mind benefits of health care as needed—at no significant extra charge—the entry fee is often significantly outweighed by projected long-term care costs. Plus, many entry fees are fully or partially refundable.

Your Retirement Plan Starts Here! We know you have options for retirement living in Jackson, but Vista Grande Villa is the area’s only true Life Plan community. We’re prepared to chat about what you’re looking for today—and tomorrow. Contact us for an appointment!


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