How to Choose an Active Adult Community

May 10, 2016

Six days into their new life as residents of Tower at The Oaks, Mary Nell and Pete Anders already love their new home and are anxious to experience life to the fullest at The Oaks of Louisiana.

The couple moved to the active adult community from their home in Spring Lake. Married for nine years – both had lost longtime spouses – they realized at age 85 they needed to make a move.

“You really need to do something like this when you have a little control instead of when your kids or some other person does it for you,” Mary Nell Anders says. 

“It was the right decision.”

Donna Angle, lifestyle consultant at The Oaks, agrees. “Most people need to make housing adjustments as they grow older. It always is better, though, to make the decision while it is still yours to make and you can enjoy everything a community like The Oaks has to offer,” she says.

She acknowledges, however, it can be an overwhelming and frightening decision.

“Choosing an active adult community involves more than choosing a floorplan,” Angle says. “You’re choosing a lifestyle. And there are steps you should take to ensure you make the right decision and you and your new home are a perfect fit.”

Think about your wants and needs

First, prospective residents should do their research and gather as much information about a community as they can. 

They should prioritize their wants and needs. How do they picture their lifestyle? What features do they desire in their home and in the community amenities? Do they prefer casual, relaxed surroundings or a more upscale formal environment?

“You need to consider features in the surrounding area as well,” Angle says. “Is there easy access to cultural attractions, shopping, restaurants or medical facilities?”

Angle says prospective residents should make a checklist that includes questions about the monthly cost of an apartment; deposits or entry fees; what happens if a resident leaves before the signed agreement or lease ends; services included in the monthly rental fee; meals included (and how many); resident parking; and fees for services not included in the monthly rental fee.

Next, schedule a tour.

Have a look around

 “There is no substitute for a personal visit,” Angle says. “It enables you to get an idea of the range of amenities and activities that exist. You need to consider your social, cultural, educational and recreational requirements as well as any features and amenities you desire.”

During tours, Angle suggests prospects record their first impressions of a community. “Be observant,” she advises. “Are the grounds well maintained? Look past beautiful furnishings and at the baseboards and windows. Does the residence feel fresh and clean?  Is the staff accessible, knowledgeable and attentive?”

Angle says it also is a good idea for prospective residents to schedule a tour in conjunction with an event. “You’ll see if activities and events are well attended, if the staff seems to enjoy the activities as well,” she says. “And look at the monthly calendars of events to see if they match your interests and if events and activities vary in size and type.”

Prospective residents should also visit with those who already live in a community to get honest opinions and feedback. “Talk to residents,” Angle says. “Do they look happy? Do they look like they love where they live and would be welcoming to a new neighbor? Are they friendly?  Is there positive energy in the air?”

See what there is to do

Ask about the range of amenities. Many active adult communities have similar amenities, so Angle says it is important for prospective residents to list the things they can’t live without, such as 24/7 gated security or private and group transportation.

Angle says active adults today are increasingly looking for indoor swimming pools, personal trainers, walking trails, fitness classes and outdoor recreation such as croquet – all things that make life healthier and happier and all things offered at The Oaks.

“They also want engaging activities and social opportunities,” she says. “Because they have freed themselves from daily concerns of meal planning, home repairs and maintenance, they have time for new friends and living as active and independently as they can.

 “The activities offered at a community are a tip-off to the age of the residents, so you should look for a place that matches your interests,” Angle adds. “We offer bingo and bean bag baseball for those who love those activities, but the scope of what we offer is broad – croquet, putting, dancing, special interests clubs, travel, book reviews, lectures on world religions, cultural events, musical performances.”

Consider the future

Mary Nell and Pete Anders found everything they wanted and needed at  The Oaks of Louisiana. “We knew some people here and had visited and were very impressed with the accommodations,” Mary Nell Anders says. “We had heard all about the wonderful food and good service and it has proved so. We just thought it had everything – so many amenities.”

It does and more.

Unlike many retirement communities, The Oaks offers a continuum of care to meet a resident’s needs if and when they change. Savannah at The Oaks is an assisted living option; Health Center at Live Oak offers skilled care as well as short-term rehabilitation.

“At The Oaks, we promote active, healthy independent living, but we recognize circumstances change. Residents have full access and priority to our different living choices as they need. It is important to plan for future health needs when choosing a community,” Angle says.

“Willis-Knighton Health System’s mission is to continuously improve the health and well-being of the people they serve,” Angle continues. “WK, which owns The Oaks, is equally committed to improving the quality of life for residents here at any stage of life.”

“To be able to stay within The Oaks of Louisiana if needs change is an advantage that sets The Oaks apart from many other senior adult communities,” Angle says.

Mary Nell and Pete Anders count that among the community’s top amenities.

How to Choose an Active Adult Community
Mary Nell and Pete Anders toured The Oaks of Louisiana and talked to friends who were residents before deciding to move.