Independent living communities for seniors should be active, vibrant centers for residents and visitors.  Staying active and socially engaged is very important for all of us in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.   When searching for an independent living community, the following are a few important things to evaluate.

1. Activities and Entertainment

  • Are the activities scheduled throughout the week, including weekends?
  • Are activities and entertainment age appropriate – geared toward senior, active adults?
  • Is an Activity Calendar provided to each resident and family member?  Are calendars posted in the community as well?
  • Is there a full-time Activities/Lifestyle Director in the community?
  • Are fitness classes, education/information sessions, cards and board games, puzzles and brain games, musical entertainment, craft classes, current movies, and social hours routinely scheduled?

2. Fitness

  • Is the fitness class instructor certified for senior exercise (Silver Sneakers, Senior Zumba, etc.)?
  • Are classes for variable fitness levels scheduled?
  • Is music a part of fitness classes?
  • Are exercise balls, hand weights, stretch bands or other equipment available?
  • Are fun fitness activities and games also scheduled?

3. Security

  • Is there 24/7 staff available onsite?
  • Are doors/entrances secured and do residents and family members have after hours access?
  • Does the community utilize the latest technology in fire and safety systems?

4. Socialization

  • Are the Dining Room or Food Service areas active with residents engaged in conversations and connecting with other residents, staff, and visitors?
  • Are there other conversation and activity areas open to residents to enjoy any time?

5. Meals and Nutrition

  • During meal times, is the Dining Room filled with residents?
  • Do residents receive a pre-planned menu on a weekly basis?
  • Does the menu have a varied selection of entrees, including vegetarian choices?
  • Are there healthy entrée options for each meal?
  • Is there an option to have a specific item individually prepared by Food Service?
  • Are there options for food, snacks, and drinks available to residents on a 24/7 basis?
  • Is the Executive Chef or Food Service Manager available to talk with residents, families and visitors?

Editor’s Note: Article submitted by Debbie Williams, Community Management Team, Emerald Oaks Retirement Community, in north San Antonio.  For more information, visit or call 210-960-9039.