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Ask These Essential Questions Before Choosing a Retirement Community

senior living

National Senior Campuses reported in 2016 that there were more than 19,000 senior living units across the United States. In fact, senior housing is one of the fastest growing real estate markets in the country. Needless to say, anyone interested in entering a senior living community will have plenty of options to choose from when it comes to location, amenities, and overall care. However, it's clear that not all senior housing options offer the same set of benefits. So how do you make sure you move into the right community?

Often, the best way to find the right housing option for you is to simply ask the right questions. With that in mind, here are just a few of the most important questions to ask before moving into an assisted living home or retirement community.

What is the facility's occupancy rate?

The occupancy rate refers to the percentage of units in the facility that are currently occupied by residents. While you don't want to live in a retirement village that's nearing capacity or overly crowded, a low rate could also mean that something is wrong. Experts say that, on average, a senior living community with an occupancy rate of around 85% is right at the 'sweet spot' that indicates a quality facility without being overcrowded or understaffed.

What are the monthly fees, and what do they cover?

As is the case with any other living community, a retirement village typically has monthly fees that are designed to cover a variety of services in the facility. Before moving in or signing any contracts, make sure you understand exactly what your monthly living fees cover. You should also know what they do not cover in case there are any additional services you will need to pay for yourself. You never want to be caught off guard with an unexpected fee. Likewise, you don't want to miss out on a vital service you thought was included with the total price. Managing finances properly will always be critical when entering any type of retirement living; you can't be too careful.

Who regulates the retirement community?

Finally, it's important to ask who regulates the community you're considering. Do some quick research about the company itself to make sure that it's in good standing. Unfortunately, some larger conglomerates have received negative attention for sub-par or even dangerous senior housing conditions. This is simply a best practice that helps ensure you're getting the best caliber of care possible.

What health services are available?

The term "senior housing" can mean different things to different people. And while terms like assisted living and retirement community are often used interchangeably, there are many different types of senior living communities. Some assisted living homes offer memory care and 24/7 nursing, while some retirement villages offer luxury apartments with amenities. As you begin your senior living search, make sure you fully understand the level of medical care, if any, that will be provided.

The Institute on Aging reports that 1.3 million Americans were living in nursing homes in 2012 -- a number that has increased significantly along with the growing senior population. There are plenty of retirement communities available, but it's essential to ask the right questions in order to ensure that the one you've chosen will truly meet your mental, physical, and emotional needs.