Here are some tips if you are looking for a continuing care community for yourself or a relative who is in need of such care.
* Shop around. Start the search process as soon as possible. The more time you spend on reading, speaking with other people, and making site visits, the greater your chance of finding a top community. The most desirable communities may have waiting lists so you should give yourself plenty of lead time when you apply.
* Look behind the facade. A retirement community can have the most spectacular brochures and the smoothest-talking representatives yet still be a lemon.
* Make the most of site visits. Talk to people employed at various communities, such as nurses’ aides. If you hear things like, “we’re understaffed” or “we’re killing ourselves to care for our patients'” you should look elsewhere.
* Stay overnight. Most communities have a guest house or guest rooms for prospects. During your stay, eat some meals in the communal dining room to make sure you like the food and the atmosphere. Eat with residents, not with the marketing director, and decide if these are the people with whom you’d like to spend time in the future.
* Ask about the activities. Before you move in, check to see if your favorite pursuits–tennis, fishing, crafts, whatever–will be available. Join in on one and see what it’s like.
* Be sure you can get around. Inquire about transportation because you may reach a point where you no longer can drive a car. Many communities offer bus or van service to movie theaters, shopping centers, medical offices, and so on.
* Don’t buy under pressure. Reputable communities won’t rush you to sign up. Instead, they’ll ask a lot of questions, trying to determine whether you’ll be happy there. If you find yourself dealing with insistent salespeople, you’re in the wrong place.