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What Questions Should You Ask on a Senior Living Tour?

When choosing a senior living community for yourself or a loved one, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with a myriad of options available, from accommodations to amenities and local area attractions. As you tour different senior living communities, it’s important to ask the right questions to help you keep track of the different communities you visit and to be able to decide what’s right for you.


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When gathering your list of questions to ask when touring senior living facilities, here are some key areas to keep in mind:

Questions About Senior Living Community Lifestyle and Activities

What types of activities are offered, and how often? 

Ensure the community offers activities that match your interests, such as fitness classes, lectures, social events, field trips, crafts, and games.

Is there a focus on resident choice and personalization of activities? 

Having the power of choice with senior living activities helps residents to maintain a sense of independence and control while continuing to enjoy activities they’re used to as well as providing opportunities to try something new.

How does the community foster socialization among residents?

Inquire about the community’s commitment to social wellness. Review their events calendar for group activities like outings, movie nights, and book clubs.

Does the community offer transportation for outings, errands, or appointments?

Having transportation assistance available enables residents to maintain their independence, helping them to get to appointments and other outings while still living independently. This also gives peace of mind to residents and their loved ones by relieving the stress involved with driving.

Senior Living Tour Questions About Health and Wellness

What levels of care are provided?

Depending on you or your loved one’s needs, you may be looking for an independent living community, assisted living, or a memory care program. Ensure that the community can provide the appropriate level of care.

What are the staff qualifications and experience?

Having a staff that is not only compassionate but qualified for varying levels of medical and personal care is essential to maintaining safety and giving residents the best experience possible.

What is the staff-to-resident ratio?

Having a lower staff-to-resident ratio can ensure that everyone gets more attention.

How are medical emergencies handled?

It is always wise to know the process for a medical emergency before one may occur, including who is available to help, who will be contacted, and what are the next steps .

How does the community involve family members in the care and decision-making process?

Communities that are committed to inclusivity and resident wellbeing, ensure that families are engaged partners in their loved one’s care planning.

What senior fitness activities and resources are available?

Having a gym with senior fitness programs helps promote an active senior lifestyle and is great for physical and mental health. Ageility physical therapy services are available at many of our Five Star communities.

What are the dining options and can they accommodate special dietary needs?

Senior living dining options are meant to be both delicious and convenient. Many senior living communities offer customized meals for dietary needs and personal preferences.

Senior Living Safety and Security Questions

What security measures are in place?

Are there things like emergency call systems, security cameras, or other protective devices installed on the premises? Where, and what are the protocols for handling a safety concern?

How is the building maintained for safety?

What measures are in place for fire safety, slip-fall prevention, and other safety accommodations?

Questions About The General Senior Living Environment

Can you see a model resident apartment or room?

Getting to see an example can really help you accurately visualize what it will be like to live in the community and help reduce anticipatory anxiety for future residents and their loved ones.

What amenities are private and which are communal?

In independent living communities, apartments often have private kitchens and bathrooms, but there may also be communal amenities like dining halls, activity spaces, and lounges.

How is maintenance and housekeeping handled within the community?

The level of cleanliness, upkeep, and overall comfort residents can expect, directly impacts their quality of life and well-being.

How would you describe the overall atmosphere of the community? 

Each senior living community has a different atmosphere and amenities. Finding one that “feels right” is as important as the technical details on paper.

Is the community pet-friendly?

If you or your loved one already has a four-legged friend or are considering a companion, then finding a pet-friendly community is a must.

Are there opportunities for residents to personalize their living spaces? 

Personalization fosters a sense of comfort, familiarity, and ownership, which can go a long way in turning a house or apartment into a home.

What is your policy on visitors and overnight guests?

The flexibility for family and friends to visit means you can still host holidays or have sleepovers with the grandchildren.

Can residents bring their own cars?

Independent living is just that, independent. As such the expectation would be that cars, or golf carts, are allowed. Get clarity on the policy and be sure to ask about parking too.

Questions About Senior Living Finances and Contracts

Is there a trial period? 

Short term stays are often used as a trial run for families to see if a senior living community may be right for their loved one. Many Five Star Senior Living communities offer respite care or short term stays.

How much does senior living cost?

What is the monthly rent or fee structure? Understand the costs of senior living, including what other expenses may be included.

What utilities and services are included in the monthly fee? 

Are there any additional fees for meals, amenities, or care services?

What is the policy on refunds or transitioning to a higher level of senior care?

Understanding the levels of care and potential next steps for you or your loved one is invaluable knowledge for long term planning.

What forms of payment are accepted?

How you are going to pay for senior living is a valid question to ask upfront.

Additional Tips

  • Be sure to keep organized notes of tours and follow up answers to questions for each community toured or visited in order to help avoid becoming overwhelmed when making a decision. Reviewing your notes will help to clarify your priorities and narrow down your options.
  • Talk to current residents and their families to gain their perspectives. First-hand accounts of their experiences with the community and staff can help you feel more confident in your final choice
  • Trust your gut feeling – is this a place where you or your loved one would feel happy and comfortable? All of the amenities in the world pale in comparison to your happiness or the happiness of someone you love.

Finding the right senior living community involves a lot of personal considerations. By asking these questions and doing your research, you can find a senior living community that meets your loved one’s needs and preferences and provides a safe and comfortable transition to a community that truly feels like home.

Schedule a Five Star Senior Living Tour at a Community Near You

At Five Star Senior Living, we’re always happy to answer any questions you may have in your senior living search process, and can even suggest some of our own! We want you to feel as informed and confident in your decision as possible, and pride ourselves on helping you feel empowered during the process of choosing a senior living community.

Find a Five Star Senior Living community near you to schedule a tour today.

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Benefits of Swimming for Seniors

Swimming is universally known as a great, low-impact exercise for all ages, but it’s a particularly beneficial exercise for older adults. Swimming for seniors offers more than just physical health benefits. On warm-weather days, swimming offers a chance to get much-needed fresh air and vitamin D.

On colder or rainier days, swimming indoors can be a relaxing act of self-care, and no matter the weather or water source, it’s always fun to swim with friends. Taking swimming classes as part of a senior fitness routine can offer camaraderie and a regularly scheduled activity to look forward to, helping to maintain familiar routines while getting gentle exercise.


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Let’s take a look at some of the specific benefits of swimming for seniors.

Health Benefits of Swimming for Seniors

It’s no surprise that swimming is good for your health, and it’s a perfect exercise for seniors because it offers an excellent source of cardiovascular exercise while going easy on joints. Unlike high-impact cardiovascular exercise like running, swimming uses the benefit of the water’s buoyancy to take stress off of the joints while providing gentle resistance to work up to a safe target heart rate.

7 Ways Swimming Keeps Seniors Active and Healthy

 

  1. Promoting cardiovascular health – Swimming is an amazing way to maintain cardiovascular health and help prevent cardiovascular disease. By working both the heart and lungs, swimming helps the body use oxygen more efficiently and improve circulation, reducing risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and helping to improve things like blood pressure and cholesterol.
  2. Improved flexibility – swimming allows for gentle stretching and safely expanding range of motion over time, helping improve mobility and promote comfort when moving outside of the pool.
  3. Improved bone health – swimming can help improve bone mineral density (BMD), helping to fight against bone loss diseases like osteopenia and osteoporosis
  4. Strength, posture, and stability – the water’s resistance combined with immersion means that swimming helps to condition muscles on the entire body, promoting improved posture and core strength, leading to improved balance and a lower risk of falls.
  5. Mental health benefits – the aerobic nature of swimming combined with its meditative qualities have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and feelings of depression, and to promote general feelings of wellbeing.
  6. Improved sleep – because it works all of the body’s muscle groups, swimming helps tire you out (in a good way!) and helps improve sleep quality. Poor sleep can lead to mental health struggles, and higher risk of illness and mortality. With approximately 50% of older adults experiencing sleep difficulties, this is a particularly important benefit that swimming offers to seniors.
  7. Opportunity for social engagementisolation and loneliness are common issues that seniors face. When attending a swimming class as part of a senior fitness program, senior living residents enjoy regular social time with friends which is of great benefit to mental health and an overall sense of belonging and wellbeing. Attending a class with others also helps encourage swimmers to keep up a routine and stick with their fitness plan.

Pool Exercises for Seniors

If you or a loved one are currently living in or considering living in a senior living community, there’s a good chance your senior living community’s amenities will include an indoor or outdoor pool. Unsure which swimming exercises are best for older adults? The good news is you don’t need an instructor or special equipment to have a great aquatic workout. In fact, you don’t have to swim at all! Here are a few sample pool exercises for seniors to help you get started:

  1. Walking/jogging in the pool – Let the water work with you by pushing against you! Taking a slow walk in the shallow end of the pool or working up to a more vigorous pace gives you the heart-pumping workout of a jog on land with a fraction of the impact on joints. If you lose your balance, you won’t fall, and you can maintain a pace that’s comfortable for you while counting horizontal laps across the pool to track your progress.
  2. Flutter kicks – This senior pool exercise can be performed while moving or stationary. To do stationary flutter kicks, you can hold onto the side of the pool and kick your legs out behind you, or lie on your back and float your legs in front of you, keeping your legs as straight as you can and performing small kicking movements. To perform flutter kicks while moving, grab onto a kickboard and propel yourself forward with the same, rapid, straight-legged kicks. Remember to maintain a pace that gets your heart rate elevated but doesn’t feel exhausting.
  3. Pool edge wall push-ups – Unlike traditional push-ups that put a lot of strain on elbows and wrists, pool push-ups allow you to strengthen your core and arms while remaining standing. Approach the edge of the pool where you’re able to stand with some of your torso above the water. Hold onto the side of the pool with your arms a little wider than shoulder-width apart, standing far enough back where your feet are still able to plant firmly on the pool bottom. Gently lower your chest toward the edge of the pool, then push back to a more upright position. Increase repetitions as your strength improves.

These are just a few of many senior pool exercises you can try. For more in-depth instructions and examples, it’s a good idea to talk with your community’s senior fitness director or, for specific joint or mobility concerns, work with a dedicated senior physical therapist to get the most benefit out of your workout.

Find a Senior Living Community with swimming Pool

At Five Star Senior Living, we see senior fitness and wellness as an integral part of the senior living experience. With our Lifestyle360 program and access to senior physical therapists from Ageility Physical Therapy Solutions, our properties are equipped to promote wellbeing and an active senior lifestyle.

Many of our senior living communities include access to a beautiful swimming pool, some indoor and some outdoor. To find the right senior living community for you, use our community finder or contact one of our community experts to answer any questions you may have. We look forward to meeting you (and seeing you at the pool!) soon!

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What is the Aid and Attendance Benefit for Veterans?

When it comes to financing senior care, older adults are often unaware of how many financial options there are that can help. From life-settlement funds to bridge loans, there are a variety of programs designed to make it easier to finance senior care. One benefit that is often overlooked was created for veterans and their surviving spouses. It is the Pension with Aid and Attendance Benefit and is commonly referred to as the Aid and Attendance for Veterans Benefit.

What is the VA Aid and Attendance Benefit?

This benefit, managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, provides financial support to veterans to assist with the costs of long-term care. The purpose of this program is to ensure that veterans who served our nation receive the care they need.

Aid and Attendance support is available only to veterans and surviving spouses who meet eligibility requirements. In general, the veteran needs to have served at least 90 days of active-duty service with at least one day during a recognized period of war.

Because Aid & Attendance (A&A) is based on your income, medical expenses and assets, if you meet the military requirement, it is no longer a Yes or No benefit – it is If and When. Learn more about applying for this benefit below.

How much does the VA pay for Aid and Attendance?

The 2024 Veterans Aid and Attendance Benefit rates are:

  • A Veteran may qualify for as much as $2,300 per month
  • A Married Veteran may qualify for as much as $2,727 per month
  • Surviving Spouses may qualify for as much as $1,478 per month
  • A Well Veteran with Ill Spouse may qualify for up to $1,806 per month

These amounts have historically increased by the same cost of living adjustments as social security.

Commonly Asked Questions about Aid and Attendance

Q: Is this benefit different from a monthly military pension for veterans?

A: Yes. This benefit is separate from and in addition to a monthly pension from a branch of the Military. This pension is from the VA and can be granted in addition to a Military pension. You cannot receive disability compensation or Death and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) and Pension with Aid and Attendance at the same time. If you qualify for both disability compensation or DIC and you also qualify for the Pension with Aid and Attendance, you can choose whichever is most advantageous for you. Surprisingly, the lower paying benefit is occasionally the better financial choice.

Q: How does a veteran or surviving spouse apply for this benefit? Can you apply in person?

A: Veterans or a surviving spouse can apply through their regional Veterans Affairs office. However, it is a complicated and time-consuming process and, similar to filing your taxes, you might want to work with a professional with expertise in the Pension with Aid and Attendance benefit. At Five Star Senior Living, we partner with Elder Resource Benefits Consulting to help our residents and future residents with consultation and guidance regarding the VA Aid & Attendance benefit.

To learn more about this benefit and to book your appointment for your free benefit analysis we invite you to contact Elder Resource Benefits Consulting at 833-822-9273 or 508-485-0039 or go to elderbenefitsconsulting.com and select the Book Now option on the home page.

Please have the following information ready before you call:

  • Monthly gross income from all sources
  • Estimated other annual income—interest, dividends, IRA contributions, capital gains, etc.
  • Monthly health and/or long-term care insurance premiums
  • Monthly projected residency fee
  • Understanding of applicant’s assets, including IRAs
  • The Veteran’s period of war

Five Star Affordability: Download our Cost of Senior Living Guide

We understand that senior living financing options can be confusing, so we created a resource to help. Download our FREE “Your Complete Guide to the Cost of Senior Living” eBook to get the answers you need. Learn about typical cost ranges, services offered and financing options, from Aid and Attendance to using bridge loans. We’ve also included how to contact a senior living counselor who can help answer any further questions.

Find out if there’s a Five Star Senior Living community near you or contact us to learn more.

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What is Caregiver Fatigue?

Caring for a loved one is a selfless act of love, kindness, and loyalty. As rewarding as it can be, caregiving can also be a challenging journey. Caregiver fatigue, also known as caregiver burnout, is a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that occurs when you’re taking care of someone else. This is not regular tiredness, it’s a profound exhaustion that affects your physical, emotional, and mental well-being as a caregiver.

Caregiver fatigue doesn’t only affect family caregivers but professional caregivers as well. It’s important to remember that your health and well-being are vital to the health and well-being of the person you care for.

Recognizing caregiver fatigue is the first step toward addressing it. Understanding the timeline, symptoms, and prevention strategies can empower you as a caregiver to seek support you may need.

Caregiver Fatigue Timeline

Caregiver fatigue can increase a caregiver’s stress, especially when they’re caring for a spouse, living with the person who needs care, facing financial burdens, or caring for someone who needs constant care.

 

  1. Initial Commitment: In the beginning, caregiving is met with enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility.
  2. Mounting Challenges: As caregiving goes on, the physical and emotional demands can increase which may lead to stress and exhaustion. You may be spending vacation time caregiving or cutting down on personal hobbies or activities.
  3. Increasing responsibility: The needs of the cared for person can grow and can continue to affect the lifestyle of the caregiver.
  4. Acknowledging the strain: Once caregiving starts to affect your health and well-being it’s important to address it. You may feel burdened , worried, tired, sad, or not sleeping enough.
  5. Seek Support: Understanding you need help and seeking support can be a challenge. There are lots of options for caregivers and the person they’re caring for.
  6. Adjusting and Adapting: By seeking support, a caregiver can find balance between their life and the well-being of the person they’re caring for.

Caregiver Fatigue Symptoms

Caregiver fatigue can be a gradual process and manifest in various symptoms that can impact every aspect of a caregiver’s life. Recognizing these signs is crucial for seeking timely support and maintaining one’s health and well-being.

Emotional and Mental Symptoms:

  • Persistent Emotional Exhaustion: A feeling of being emotionally drained and depleted, which can persist even after rest.
  • Increased Irritability or Impatience: Minor irritations may provoke significant frustration or anger.
  • Feelings of Sadness or Depression: A pervasive sense of sadness, hopelessness, or episodes of depression.
  • Anxiety and Worry: Excessive concerns about the future or feeling overwhelmed by caregiving responsibilities.
  • Reduced Empathy: A notable decrease in feelings of empathy or compassion toward the person being cared for.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Chronic Fatigue: Feeling tired all the time, despite adequate sleep or rest.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Difficulties in falling or staying asleep, or conversely, sleeping too much.
  • Changed Appetite: Loss of appetite or resorting to comfort eating.
  • Physical Ailments: Increased susceptibility to colds, flu, or other infections; unexplained aches and pains.
  • Neglect of Personal Health: Ignoring one’s own health needs, skipping medical appointments, or not maintaining a regular exercise routine.

Behavioral and Social Symptoms:

  • Withdrawal from Social Activities: Isolating oneself from friends, family, and social gatherings.
  • Neglect of Personal Interests: Losing interest in hobbies or activities that were once enjoyable.
  • Changes in Job Performance: Decreased productivity or difficulties in maintaining professional responsibilities.
  • Substance Abuse: Increased reliance on substances like alcohol, prescription drugs, or caffeine to cope with stress.
  • Caretaker Burnout: In severe cases, a desire to abandon caregiving responsibilities altogether.

Recognizing these symptoms in oneself or in someone who is a caregiver is vital. It’s not just about identifying the signs but understanding the need for action. Five Star Senior Living offers various support options, including short-term stays. Our communities are designed to enrich the lives of both seniors and their caregivers, promoting an active lifestyle, socialization, and overall well-being. By acknowledging and addressing caregiver fatigue, caregivers can continue to provide supportive care while maintaining their own health and happiness.

How to Prevent Caregiver Fatigue

What about you? Do you suffer from caregiver fatigue? Here are some quick tips to keep in mind:

  • Adjust your expectations to prevent guilty feelings. Remember that no one person can do it all.
  • Don’t do it alone. Reach out to a therapist or other helping professional to take good care of yourself.
  • Use communication apps like CaringBridge and MyLifeLine to centralize updates on your loved one.
  • Check your town or city web site for no- or low-cost community resources, such as meals-on-wheels, to shorten your to-do list.
  • Find some time for you. Suggestion: Explore local respite care services to give yourself a regular break you can look forward to.

Five Star Senior Living is one of the nation’s leading providers of respite for seniors. With communities across 28 states, chances are there’s a respite program near you. Call us today at (617) 796-8387 or visit to learn more and schedule a virtual tour.

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How Does Dementia Affect Sleep?

If you are the caregiver for an older adult who has dementia, you might be having difficulty getting them to sleep. Family members often say it seems like their loved one can go for days without sleeping. It makes for what experts call a “36-hour day.” It can be exhausting for the caregiver and the senior.


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While it isn’t always easy to pinpoint the cause of insomnia in a senior with dementia, there are some common issues. Here are a few to discuss with your loved one’s physician.

4 Causes of Sleep Problems in Seniors with Dementia

1. Overly busy schedule late in the day

It can be hard for people with dementia to process too much information or an overly busy environment. When a senior with dementia has an afternoon and evening schedule that is hectic, they might feel agitated and have trouble unwinding. This makes falling and staying asleep difficult.

A solution is to schedule activities and appointments early in the day. Keep the afternoon and evening quieter. Turn off the television and play soothing music instead. Take out magazines or old photos for the senior to look through. The goal should be to keep things peaceful and relaxing.

2. Sleep Apnea and other sleep disorders

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder which stops and restarts breathing during sleep. This can prevent a person’s body from getting enough oxygen and can cause snoring or gasping resulting in poor quality sleep.

According to the National Heart, Lung, Blood Institute, there are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. The most common is obstructive sleep apnea which occurs when your throat muscles relax and block the airway in the throat. Central sleep apnea happens when a person’s brain stops sending the signals needed to breathe.

People who are overweight, male, or have a family history of small airways are most at risk for sleep apnea. While people with sleep apnea snore loudly, not everyone who snores has sleep apnea.

Share the situation with your loved one’s doctor to be sure there isn’t another problem preventing them from sleeping. Sometimes medical issues are responsible for sleep difficulties. It could be sleep apnea, narcolepsy, or restless leg syndrome.

Your physician might be able to order an in-home sleep study in lieu of a clinic-based test. That eliminates concerns about an adult who has a memory impairment spending the night in a strange environment.

3. Not having a routine

Adults with a memory impairment often do better when their days are structured and their routine stays the same. Lifestyle programs like Five Star Senior Living’s Bridge to Rediscovery establish set routines for memory care residents like activities, meals times, and hydration breaks. Researchers think having a set routine helps because it requires less short-term memory. For adults with memory loss, short-term memory is typically impacted early in the disease progression.

4. Other lifestyle and environmental issues

If none of the tips listed above seem to help, there are a few more things to consider:

  • Is their bedroom too hot?
  • Is their bed uncomfortable?
  • Is a medication or side effect causing sleeplessness?
  • Do they have undiagnosed chronic or acute pain?
  • Are they consuming too much caffeine, especially later in the day?

Dementia and Sleeping A Lot

Alternatively some people with dementia sleep a lot. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, sleeping more is a common occurrence for people with later-stage dementia. As the disease progresses the person’s brain weakens. People with dementia become exhausted when trying to communicate, eat, or understand their surroundings. Excessive sleep can be a side effect of some medication as well. It’s important to monitor a person with dementia if they are sleeping a lot to prevent any physical health problems.

Sleep Positions and Dementia

Choosing the right sleep position isn’t just about comfort; it can also have significant implications for a person’s health. Sleeping on your side is generally considered the best position for most people because it can alleviate sleep apnea and acid reflux. One study found some evidence that sleeping in specific positions “could influence the clearance of neurotoxic proteins from the brain.”

During the day, our brains accumulate toxic byproducts in the central nervous system. These are flushed away during sleep via cerebrospinal fluid. That brain waste includes beta amyloid, which is a substance found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. A study done at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) found that the natural waste clearing system in the brain works best when people sleep on their side.

Memory Care at Five Star Senior Living

If you’ve concluded that your loved one’s quality of life would be better in a memory care community, we hope you will consider Five Star Senior Living. Our Montessori-based Bridge to Rediscovery Alzheimer’s and dementia care program provides personalized memory care based on your loved one’s specific abilities, preferences, and passions. Find a memory care community near you to learn more about how a Five Star can help your loved one with dementia rediscover a meaningful life full of joy and purpose.

Transportation Services for Seniors

Driving is often synonymous with independence. If you’re an older adult and you’re thinking of hanging up the car keys for good you may feel concerned about how you’ll get around town. Many older adults don’t want to be what they perceive as a burden to family members. Public transportation isn’t always available or senior-friendly in some areas of the country, and taxi cabs can be cost-prohibitive for frequent use.

Not knowing what alternative transportation options are available is one reason some seniors keep driving long after they begin to feel less confident behind the wheel.


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The good news is there are many transportation services for seniors that offer practical benefits. Because we understand how important it is for older adults to have solutions they feel confident in, we created this list of rideshare services and transportation providers. We hope it will give you some options to explore.

Rideshare and Transportation Options for Seniors

Uber for Seniors

Uber is one of the most popular ride sharing platforms for seniors. With a convenient and easy-to-use app, seniors can get where they need to go when they want. Programs like Uber Health, which allows senior centers to request, pay, and manage rides without having seniors sign up for the app, allow seniors the flexibility and ease of getting to doctor’s appointments, family gatherings, or shopping trips without any hassle.

Lyft for Seniors

The ride sharing app service Lyft has come up with some innovative programs to make it easier for older adults, including those without a smartphone, to access transportation. Whether it’s discounted rides for seniors going to the grocery store or free rides to polling booths during elections, Lyft is an option to explore with a senior loved one.

GoGoGrandparent

If you’re not tech savvy or don’t have a smartphone, this transportation coordination service can be a big help. It acts as a concierge between transportation options, such as Lyft and Uber, in the local area and seniors who need a ride.

Volunteer Transportation Programs

Many cities and counties have volunteer ride programs dedicated to safely transporting older adults. You can use this site to quickly locate programs near you.

Area Agency on Aging

Your local council on aging office is another option to explore. They often maintain a list of senior-friendly transportation services and volunteer transportation organizations. You can search the national agency’s database to find the contact information for the office that is closest to you.

iTNAmerica

Depending upon where in the country you live, you might find iTNAmerica to be helpful. They connect seniors with local transportation providers who will treat them with dignity and respect. That includes helping them with door through door service, not just dropping riders off or picking them up at the curb.

Transportation Services at Five Star Senior Living

Whether it’s time to get rid of your car or the finances of ridesharing don’t work for you, consider the transportation benefits of being a resident at a senior living community. At Five Star Senior Living communities across the country, residents can take advantage of our in-house transportation services. With friendly drivers who get to know you and favorably located communities, our transportation services for seniors can be used for physician appointments, outings to local malls and restaurants, scenic drives, and more. Find a community today and talk to one of our team members about your transportation needs.

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5 Ways to Combat Loneliness in Seniors

We all experience loneliness at some point in our lives, but as we age we have an increased risk of experiencing loneliness. In fact, an estimated 13.8 million seniors live alone, according to a report by the Administration for Community Living’s Administration on Aging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Chronic loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact. As an older adult, this can increase your risk of dementia by 50 percent.


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What Contributes to Senior Loneliness and Isolation?

Senior isolation is unfortunately a common occurrence. Many older adults live at home alone, often after the loss of a loved one. Reduced mobility or lack of physical exercise can also cause seniors to become housebound or get out less. Without frequent visits from family or friends, feelings of isolation can sink in and keep you from living your fullest, most vibrant life.

How To Reduce Senior Loneliness and Build Genuine Connections

The “epidemic of loneliness” is considered a public health concern. In May, a Surgeon General Advisory highlighted the dangers of loneliness, especially senior loneliness.

“Our epidemic of loneliness and isolation has been an underappreciated public health crisis that has harmed individual and societal health. Our relationships are a source of healing and well-being hiding in plain sight – one that can help us live healthier, more fulfilled, and more productive lives,” said U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in the advisory.

Here’s the most important thing to remember: you’re not alone. Your neighbor down the street may be having those same feelings of loneliness and isolation, just waiting for someone to knock on their door and say hello. Building genuine, human connections is one of the most powerful ways to overcome loneliness. Here are five ways to do just that and find joy, purpose and new friendships later in life.

1. Reduce isolation by getting to know your neighbors

Putting yourself out there to meet people in your community isn’t easy, but the benefits can be life changing. Staying connected with your neighbors doesn’t require any grand gestures, either. The report also discovered that performing small acts of kindness like offering advice to new neighbors, helping bring in groceries or just waving hello as you walk by can reduce the likelihood of feeling lonely.

2. Fight loneliness by getting involved in the community

Everyone has unique skills and talents they can offer their community. Maybe it’s a green thumb, an artistic side or simply a passion for pitching in wherever help is needed. Volunteering is a great way to do just that while also making new friends. Search online or ask a neighbor about volunteering opportunities in your community like tending to local gardens, tutoring kids after school or helping put together care packages for those in need.

3. Prevent senior isolation by getting and staying active

It’s no secret that keeping your mind and body active has major health benefits for older adults, but if done in a group, it’s also one of the most effective ways to fight loneliness. Finding the motivation to get and stay active, though, isn’t easy. The thing to remember is, having an active senior lifestyle doesn’t mean you need to hit the gym and work up a sweat every day. Activities as simple, easy and fun as joining a neighborhood walking group or, if immobility is an issue, working on a puzzle with a friend can help improve your overall well being while also keeping you connected to others.

4. Feeling lonely? Ask for help

Sometimes the hardest thing to do when we’re feeling lonely is to tell someone. It can feel like you’re being a burden. Or maybe you were raised to rely on yourself, not others. For those that bravely take that first step toward seeking help, though, there are all sorts of great resources available that can help you cope. The Social Isolation and Loneliness Outreach Toolkit from the National Institute on Aging and Connect 2Tools from AARP are good places to start. If you’re experiencing symptoms of senior depression alongside feelings of loneliness—like loss of appetite or lack of energy—also consider contacting a mental health professional who can offer guidance and coping strategies.

5. Move into a senior living community

It’s only natural that living alone can lead to feelings of loneliness, especially if you have lost a spouse. The desire to maintain independence and remain at home as you age is common amongst older adults, but isolation can be a dangerous side effect.

That’s where senior living communities come in. Life in a senior living community not only promotes your health and wellness, but also encourages socialization. With a lifestyle that provides you with more choices and more comfort, you have more time to pursue your passions. Senior living communities give you opportunities to know your neighbors, get involved, and stay active.

The Five Star Difference: Goodbye senior loneliness, hello life

At Five Star, helping our residents find joy, purpose and friends they can call family is our mission. Our innovative LifeStyle360 wellness program is designed to connect residents and combat loneliness by offering enriching and engaging activities for residents. Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what one resident had to say about how moving into a Five Star community helped her overcome her loneliness and live life to her fullest.

“This has been a huge blessing in my life. I found myself being very lonely and not eating well while living alone. My friends and family suggested I take a look at [Five Star] and it has been the best decision. I have made so many friends. I’ve gotten healthier with all the dining options. I go to many activities, especially Bible study. Anything I need they take care of. The community is so clean and inviting. I never want to leave here and wish I had moved sooner.”

To learn more about how life at Five Star Senior Living is can be the antidote to senior loneliness and isolation, contact one of our senior living experts or find a Five Star Senior Living community near you.

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5 Ways Seniors Can Avoid Online Shopping Scams

So much of our lives is spent online. The convenience of online shopping has made it a ubiquitous part of many seniors’ lives for food, clothing, medication, and more. With that convenience, however, comes the lurking dangers of online scams that can prey on unsuspecting people. According to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, there were over 88,000 internet crime victims over the age of 60 in 2022 with an estimated $3.1 billion lost—an 84 percent increase from the previous year.

As internet shopping scams targeting seniors continue to increase it’s more important than ever to learn how to stay safe online. By following these strategies, you can protect your hard-earned money while enjoying the benefits of online shopping without becoming a victim.


In this article:


5 Safety Tips for Seniors Who Shop Online

1. Order Online From Retailers You Know and Trust

While many online retailers are safe and legitimate, others aren’t. Knowing which are safe and which to avoid can be challenging. One suggestion is to online shop directly from retailers that you enjoy shopping at in person. In addition to helping protect your identity and privacy, this approach also ensures the quality of the products you are ordering. Be aware of offers that might seem too good to be true. While many big retailers can offer great sales, be conscious of what you’re buying and where you’re buying it from.

2. Beware of the Links in Emails

Scammers have become quite sophisticated. Their emails can even look identical to those from popular stores and financial institutions. It’s often impossible to tell which are legitimate and which aren’t.

Beware of emails encouraging you to click on a link. It might ask you to update your account or say it’s time to change your password. If you click on the link, you are often taken to a website designed to steal your data and financial information. Instead, go directly to the company’s website or call them to validate the authenticity of any concerning messages you receive.

3. Check the Site’s Security

Another tip is to make sure a site’s web address begins with a tiny icon of a lock and includes “https.” That combination signals a site is secure. If you don’t see that lock or the “s” after “http,” the webpage may not be safe. Entering credit card information on a site like this can put you at risk for fraud or theft.

4. Use a Credit Card, Not a Debit Card

If you shop online using a debit card instead of a credit card, a thief can drain your checking or savings account before you realize anything is wrong. If the vendor you buy from isn’t legitimate, the credit card company will be able to protect you. While your bank probably can too, it usually takes longer. Money in your accounts might not be available while the matter is under investigation.

5. Monitor Monthly Statements

Lastly, review account charges and debits every month. The more often you review your accounts the better. Make sure the charges listed are for purchases you made and that you are credited for any returns.

What To Do if You Get Scammed Online Shopping

If you or someone you know becomes a victim of an online scam there are resources available. The Federal Trade Commission offers tips like reporting the crime to your bank, having the U.S. post office intercept a postal package, report an identity theft, and more.

At Five Star Senior Living, residents are protected with secure communities, skilled team members, and engaging programs that offer assistance on how to recognize online scams. Find a community near you today.

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How To Do a Multigenerational Family Vacation

The holidays are a great time of year for an intergenerational family vacation. It gives everyone a time to strengthen bonds and build memories to last a lifetime. Whether you are planning a few days away or a long trip, you’ll want to make sure you consider the needs of everyone in the family.


In this article:


Tips for Planning a Successful Multigenerational Family Vacation

Planning a multigenerational family vacation for parents, grandparents, and kids can be both exciting and challenging. The bigger the family the more complicated it can feel to book your trip. With our valuable tips, we can ensure your vacation is a memorable and enjoyable experience for every member of your family.

Choosing the Right Destination

When you’re planning a vacation, choosing a destination that appeals to all age groups can be challenging—the kids want Disneyland, but the adults want an all-inclusive spa in the Caribbean. Consider places with a variety of activities and attractions that cater to both younger children and older adults. Look for destinations that offer a mix of relaxation and adventure, ensuring everyone has something to look forward to.

Accommodations are key

When traveling with multiple generations, finding a suitable place for everyone to rest their head is crucial. Research lodgings that provide enough space for you and your family. Make sure wherever you stay offers the right amenities. Consider options like vacation rentals, resorts with family suites, or interconnected rooms in hotels. Having common areas where the family can gather and spend quality time together is a plus. Seniors can also have a place to stay on vacation while they try out a senior living community with a respite stay.

Plan Flexible Itineraries

While having a planned itinerary is beneficial, it’s essential to leave room for flexibility. Different age groups might have varying energy levels and interests. Create a loose schedule that includes a mix of group activities and free time for individual pursuits. This approach ensures that everyone can participate without feeling overwhelmed.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Open communication among family members when planning your vacation. Encourage everyone to voice their preferences, concerns, and any special requirements they might have. This will help you tailor the vacation to accommodate everyone’s needs and expectations, making it more inclusive and enjoyable for all.

Embrace Quality Time

The primary goal of a multigenerational family vacation is to spend quality time together. Bond with family members by organizing special moments like family dinners, game nights, or storytelling sessions. These cherished interactions will leave everyone with heartwarming memories that last long after the vacation ends.

Be Mindful of Rest

Amidst the excitement of the vacation, remember that rest is essential for everyone. Schedule downtime for the adults to recharge and young children to nap. Balancing activities with ample rest ensures that everyone has the energy to hike, swim, and sightsee to their heart’s content.

Capture the Moments…and enjoy them too

Don’t forget to capture the special moments. Take plenty of photos and videos to document the vacation and the joy shared among generations. With that said, remember to fully take in the moment—whether you’re lounging on a beach chair, seeing the Great Wall of China, or trying a new food.

Take a staycation

If a holiday getaway just isn’t feasible, consider hosting a staycation instead. Put together a few games and activities the three generations of the family can enjoy together. Spending time together will make the holiday season more meaningful for everyone!

Embarking on a multigenerational family vacation is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen family bonds and create lifelong memories. The key is to create an experience that caters to the unique needs and interests of each family member, fostering connections and creating lasting memories.

So, start planning, pack your bags, and get ready for an adventure that transcends age barriers and brings the whole family together. Happy travels!

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What is Independent Living?

Independent living communities, also known as retirement communities, are a senior housing option designed with the active adult in mind. They are often a good fit for older adults seeking freedom from the burdens of homeownership such as home maintenance and repairs because housekeeping tasks and maintenance chores are handled by the independent living community team members. This allows independent living residents to have more time to fully enjoy their retirement. Independent living comes in several forms:

  • Apartments in a dedicated independent living community or on the campus of a larger continuing care community
  • Maintenance-free villas or small cottages that are part of a retirement community

An Independent Living community nurtures an older adult’s interests and hobbies. These often include hosting travel groups, life-enrichment activities, continuing education classes and wellness programs. Many Independent Living residents also enjoy opportunities volunteering in the community.


Table of Contents


What is the average age of an independent living resident?

Independent living community residents range in age from the mid-50s to eighties and beyond.

What are considered independent living skills?

Independent living communities center around adults who are able to accomplish daily living tasks, also known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), without assistance. Most senior living providers and health professionals group ADLs into the following categories:

Common Categories of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Dressing Being able to dress and undress, choose appropriate clothing for the weather and have the dexterity to manage buttons, zippers and other fasteners.
Eating The ability to feed oneself (not including cooking).
Bathing or Showering This includes grooming activities such as shaving and brushing teeth and hair.
Continence Being able to control bowels and bladder or to manage incontinence independently.
Toileting The ability to use the toilet and get to the toilet independently.
Transferring This refers to functional mobility. For most people, functional mobility is being able to walk, get in and out of bed, and into and out of a chair. If the person is not ambulatory, they should be able to transfer from bed to wheelchair on their own.

 

There is a secondary category of activities of daily living that go a step further, known as Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). These are more complex tasks that often build on basic ADLs, but require a certain amount of physical dexterity, sound judgment, and organizational skills. IADLs are not essential functions of living like ADLs, though they are key to being able to live independently.

Instrumental activities of daily living typically include the following:

Common Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

Managing finances Paying bills and managing financial assets.
Managing transportation Either by driving, using public transportation or by organizing other means of transport.
Shopping and meal preparation Grocery shopping, cooking and any other activity required to prepare your own meals.
Housecleaning and home maintenance Keeping one’s living space reasonably clean and tidy and overall maintaining of the home.
Managing communication Using the telephone and managing mail.
Managing medications Obtaining medications and taking them as directed.

 

For adults who are able to perform ADLs and IADLs without assistance, independent living can be a great option in retirement.

What are the benefits of independent living?

Moving to an independent senior living community offers a host of benefits for active older adults. Here are some of the things older adults like most about independent living communities:

  • No maintenance or repairs: Independent living frees residents of the burdens of home ownership and maintenance. Moving to an independent living community means no more shoveling, mowing the lawn, fixing home appliances, or worrying about other maintenance issues.
  • Healthy meal options: Whether due to certain medications affecting appetite or requiring a special or more bland diet, finding appealing food or preparing food can become a burden for older adults. Independent living communities offer a variety of healthy meal options that still please the palate. Some communities accommodate restricted diets. For those who love to cook or make their own food for health reasons, some independent living communities offer a kitchen or kitchenette in each apartment so residents can continue to cook if they’d like to.
  • Amenities and conveniences: Depending on the independent living community, residents have access to a host of amenities and conveniences to make retirement life easier and more enjoyable. Housekeeping, transportation, trash removal, a beauty/barber shop, and meal plans are just a few standard services. Some independent living communities even have a concierge to help make arrangements for theater tickets, dry cleaning, travel plans, and more. In addition to amenities on campus, residents get to enjoy the amenities of the surrounding neighborhood. From access to tranquil walks in nature to bustling shopping days in the city, there are independent living communities in neighborhoods to suit many different lifestyles.
  • Socialization: Maintaining connections with other people is a crucial part of a balanced and happy life, especially as we age. Senior isolation is a serious issue for adults in retirement, and independent senior living communities offer meaningful ways to connect with friends and neighbors each day. Whether a quick cup of coffee in the dining room before heading over to morning devotionals or an afternoon of games, the built-in opportunities for socialization are a primary reason seniors move to independent living.
  • Safety and Security: As loved ones age, family members begin to worry about their safety at home. Independent living communities provide a safe and secure environment for older adults. From having staff onsite around the clock, to fire suppression systems and an emergency call system, seniors can feel safe living alone and know that help is right there day or night if needed.
  • Personal Assistance: Some independent living communities also have programs in place to offer assistance with personal care – this is a bit different from a full-on assisted living community (more about that below!). This allows an older adult to remain independent longer.

What’s the Difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living?

Independent and assisted living are both senior living communities with some key differences: Independent living is for older adults who are able to execute Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) without help. Assisted Living refers to a community for older adults who need a little extra help with activities of daily living to live their most independent life. Independent living is perfect for older adults looking to move on from home ownership but who can and want to live on their own. Assisted living is ideal for older adults who need help with daily activities but who don’t need continuous medical supervision. Here’s what each type of senior living entails in a bit more detail: 

  • Independent/Retirement Living Communities. Independent senior living communities aim to provide a maintenance-free lifestyle, and often offer dining programs, housekeeping, and laundry. A wide range of life enrichment activities and events make it easier for independent living residents to continue to enjoy an engaged, productive lifestyle.
  • Assisted Living Communities. These senior living communities offer a step up in services for seniors who need help with medication, bathing, dressing, and personal care. They provide restaurant-style dining and a selection of social activities, physical fitness programs, and other life enrichment activities.
  • Independent Living Residents are mobile, able to manage day-to-day life on their own, don’t want the hassle of keeping up a home, and are drawn to the social activities and stress-free living that independent living can provide.
  • Assisted Living Residents are seniors who need a little more help in their day, but who don’t require complex medical care. On their own, they may forget to take their medications or struggle to get to doctor’s appointments, and benefit from assistance with personal needs like bathing and dressing.

What’s the difference between independent living and home care?

Independent living refers to a community geared toward active, mobile older adults who want to continue to live an independent and socially connected lifestyle without the burden of home maintenance. Home care refers to older adult assistance brought into the home to help with everything from housekeeping and daily chores to more intensive medical care. Home care is sometimes also referred to as in-home care, custodial care, personal care, companion care, or homemaker services. Home care is generally used as a way to assist older adults that may be dealing with chronic illness, mobility issues, disabilities, or surgery recovery, and is a means to allow them to stay at home instead of moving into assisted living or a nursing home.

What’s the difference between independent living and senior apartments?

In some instances, an independent living community is structured as senior apartments, but the main difference is that senior apartments not affiliated with an independent living community are primarily focused on providing affordable senior housing for older adults, though there are luxury senior apartment communities as well. Senior apartments under an independent living community umbrella have added benefits and amenities like community activities, on-site services like a hair salon, dining options, and easy access to healthcare. Senior apartments allow independent older adults to maintain their active lifestyle without the upkeep of home ownership in either instance.

What’s the difference between independent living and a 55+ community?

Although there’s no ‘official’ definition of independent living vs. a 55+ community, there are key differences in how they tend to be described or categorized. In general, independent living communities offer a higher level of amenities and service, making for a stress-free living experience, whereas 55+ communities’ amenities are more varied depending on the complex. Another major difference is that in 55+ communities, it’s common for residents to own their home, whereas in independent living communities, residents are most often renting. You can see some common differences between independent living and 55+ communities below.

55+ Communities vs. Independent Living Comparison Table

55+ Communities Independent Living
Services Provided 55+ complexes offer the convenience of providing maintenance of the building, grounds and apartment. Independent living communities offer a stress-free lifestyle where the hassles of life—like home upkeep, cooking and cleaning—are taken care of.
Amenities There may be a clubhouse with planned social activities in a 55+ community. The availability and quality of amenities varies widely by community. Convenient access to on-site shared dining spaces, pools, libraries, game rooms and a wide variety of community activities are common in independent living communities.
Own or rent? There are many 55+ communities where residents own their houses or condominiums, while others may offer rental properties. Home ownership is often governed by a homeowners association (HOA) and includes an HOA fee. Independent living residents generally rent their houses or apartments, although the “rent” includes much more than a roof over one’s head. While renting is more typical of independent living, neither community type is exclusively one or the other.
How much does it cost? The cost to rent a senior apartment varies and can range from low-income senior apartments, to standard rate, to luxury senior apartments. Communities vary widely in terms of cost, which can range from $2,000 to $5,000 or more a month. A number of factors determine the cost, like the type of community and location.

Who is independent living best suited for?

Independent Living is a great senior living option for older adults who can manage mostly on their own but don’t want the hassle of keeping up a home. Independent living is perfect for seniors who are mobile, who don’t suffer from major health or cognitive issues, and who find the social aspect of independent living activities and amenities appealing.

What does independent living cost?

Independent living communities vary widely in terms of cost, which can range from $2,000 to $5,000 or more a month. When considering everything that is included when moving to independent living, what may initially seem expensive ends up being a great deal. Services covered in the monthly fee at an independent living community include things that would cost much more when purchased separately, like lawn care, property maintenance, and housekeeping.

A number of factors determine what you pay for independent living. Whatever your budget, chances are there is an independent living community that meets your needs.

Some factors that influence the cost of independent living include:

Type of independent living community – A stand-alone independent living community might offer fewer amenities but may cost less than an independent living community located on the campus of a continuing care community. Many independent living communities are priced similarly to other apartments in the area.

Location – As with other housing types, location plays a factor in cost. Major cities typically have a higher cost of living which translates to higher monthly fees. Rates will be higher in more desirable neighborhoods. Square footage of accommodations at an independent living community will also influence the monthly fee.

To learn more about pricing different senior living options, download our FREE Guide to the Cost of Senior Living eBook.

Is Independent Senior Living the same as a Retirement Community?

Independent living communities are often also called retirement communities. The terms are interchangeable and refer to a community for seniors that has amenities and services that make life easier and more social while maintaining independence.

How to Know When to Transition to Independent Living

As you or a loved one approaches retirement, feelings toward home ownership can shift, and priorities in life can change. It’s not uncommon for empty nesters to want to downsize, or for retirees to want to move closer to their children and grandchildren. Housekeeping and home maintenance may begin to feel more like a burden than a joy, and it can be easy to start feeling isolated or have difficulty maintaining a vibrant social life. Independent living helps take away the worry associated with living at home (for both residents and their adult children) such as safety concerns, and provides an enriching and active environment for seniors to relax and enjoy the retirement they’ve worked so hard for. If you find that you are feeling like you’d like to take some of the stressors of home maintenance, cooking or cleaning, and other day-to-day priorities off your shoulders, considering a move to independent living could be the right thing for you.

Talking About Moving to Independent Living with a Loved One

Adults that move to independent living communities are still mobile, active, and able to tend to their needs without assistance. Unlike adults who are struggling to take care of themselves and may need to consider assisted living, retirees who could benefit from independent living are able to manage their lives in their current homes. But you may notice that your loved one is getting overwhelmed with things like taking care of the lawn, scheduling repairs or keeping up with housekeeping. Perhaps your mom has cooked for the family her whole life and you can tell she’d really enjoy being able to have cooking as an option but not a requirement anymore. Or maybe as your parents lose members of their social circle you sense some loneliness and isolation. These are great segues to bringing up the possibility of independent living with your loved ones. Reassuring them that they will still maintain full independence but just have certain things taken care of that can make life easier and more vibrant can help encourage a transition that can benefit the whole family.

What Support is Included at an Independent Senior Living Community?

Support across independent living communities generally includes some or all of the following:

  • home maintenance and groundskeeping
  • housecleaning
  • healthy on-site dining options, including the ability to have kitchens/kitchenettes if desired
  • senior activities and events
  • laundry service
  • transportation assistance
  • 24/7 security and on-call help

Different independent living communities have different amenities. Some independent living communities are part of a larger senior care organization, and in these instances, there may be more readily available medical support or the ability to transition into assisted living or make use of assisted living services on the same campus if the need arises. For other standalone independent living communities, these may function more like a luxury apartment complex.

Maintaining an Active Senior Lifestyle in Independent Living

Whether you’re into arts and crafts or running marathons, independent living communities offer ample opportunities for residents to continue to enjoy the activities they love, and discover new ones! Here are just some of the ways independent living communities help residents enjoy an active senior lifestyle:

  • Special events and social gatherings
  • Cards and games
  • Movie nights
  • Senior fitness classes and senior personal training
  • Coordinated group trips and outings
  • Arts and crafts
  • On-site dining
  • Clubs and activities around hobbies – birdwatching, nature walks, etc.
  • Events for families to enjoy together
  • And more

How to Find the Right Independent Living Facility for Your Needs

With so many options available, and many with similar grounds and amenities, finding the independent living community that’s the right fit can feel daunting. More important than amenities, though, is finding a place to be able to settle into and really be a part of, to feel comfortable socially and accepted for who you are.

As you research different independent living communities, take your time browsing websites, reading testimonials, and be sure to schedule a virtual or in-person tour for your top choices if that’s an option for you.

We offer personalized senior living virtual tours over Zoom and FaceTime that include a guided visit through the neighborhood, meetings with team members, and a one-on-one with a sales counselor to answer any questions you may have. This is not only a safe option, but can be invaluable for those considering a long distance move who might not be nearby.

Find an Independent Living Community Near You

Finding an independent living community that’s perfect for you is a major decision and one that can have an enormously positive impact on your life. Want to learn more about independent living at Five Star? Find a senior living community near you.

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