Questions to Consider When Exploring Retirement Community Options

Happy Active Senior clicking selfie- Cambridge Village

An Exemplary Senior Living Community

What to ask about when touring  Active Retirement Communities

How can you weed out the average senior living communities from the senior communities that offer truly excellent care and support for your loved ones? In the following post, we’ll explain the key differences in retirement communities and give you some tips on how to find the best senior community to suit your needs. If you would like to see an example of an exemplary senior living community, please schedule a tour at of one of our three communities here at Cambridge Village Senior Living!

What are the different types of communities?

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), Independent Living, Independent Living with Assistance, Assisted Living and Memory Care, and Skilled Nursing are all senior living options, but they vary greatly.

A CCRC or Life Care model is a community where you have multiple levels of care (including skilled care) on a single campus and usually must live in the Independent Living section of the community in order to access the higher levels of care

Independent Living (IL)– ranging from single homes, cottages or villas to apartments- most people at this level want a maintenance free lifestyle, may not want the upkeep of a house, the burden of cleaning or cooking, and ideally want the social aspect of being in a community

Assisted Living (AL or ALF)- from apartments to studios, private suites & companion suites- replaced what people referred to as “nursing homes” and is usually needed when a resident needs help with at least 2-3 activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as bathing, dressing, toileting, mobility, transportation, medication management etc.

Memory Care (MC or SCU)- locked and secured unit for those with advanced dementia or Alzheimer’s and who may be a wander risk or unable to voice their needs and aren’t aware of themselves or their surroundings- studios to companion suites as well

Skilled Nursing (SNF) – most like a hospital setting with accommodations similar to a hospital room. Highest level of medical care such as being bed-ridden or needing a feeding tube or more than 2 people to assist me with basic activities of daily living (ADL) like bathing, dressing, transferring

In considering any of these options and touring communities, ask about the following key items to help you choose the best senior living community.

  • Prince Increases – Always inquire as to what you should expect your annual percentage of increase to be.
  • In Independent Living communities, for example upfront costs are low in comparison to a CCRC
  • Reservation or waitlist deposit fees, most are equivalent to one-or two month’s rent – due at the time of move in.
  • Monthly rental fees – what’s included?
  • Additional fees? Storage rental, lifestyle fees, salon or spa services
  • Increases over time. What’s the normal range?  usually a 3-6% every year, based on the market and inflation
  • What is not covered monthly? Nursing care and assistance would be additional and that could be covered with LTC insurance or VAA benefits
  • Who Gets to Stay? – Senior communities have broad discretion of who they will accommodate. Make sure to go over the contract carefully with your family before signing anything.


Here at Cambridge Village Optimal Living, we make it a point to be upfront about all of our policies and practices. Our goal is to provide a comfortable and supportive retirement community.  We will gladly go over your contract before you sign and make sure that you and your family understand every word. Get in touch with us today!