Q: I’ve been widowed for almost two years and am considering a move. My home and yard are more than I want to continue to care for. I am active and independent, but at times I am very lonely. I’m considering what they call retirement living. Can you provide some guidance about this subject?

A: You will find this type of living accommodation referred to as a retirement community, a retirement facility, independent living or congregate living.

These accommodations are designed for independent senior adults and provide apartment-like living with 24-hour on-site staff available in case a problem occurs. Services usually include meals, housekeeping, laundry, social activities and transportation.

Plan to visit all the retirement facilities available in your area so you can compare what is offered. Some facilities offer the opportunity to stay for two or three days so you can experience what it is like to live there. If you are offered such an opportunity, I encourage you to take it.

Ask about rules and regulations, such as whether residents can have a small pet or overnight guests.

Find out about the cost and what is included in the monthly fee. Checking on meal service is important. How many meals per day are included in the basic monthly fee? If you have special dietary needs, can they be met? If you become ill, is tray service available? If so, ask if there is an additional charge and for what period it can be provided.

Is transportation available, and is there a charge, how often is it available and to what locations? If you still drive, what type of parking accommodations are available?

Check on laundry facilities, the availability of extra storage and on-premises services such as a barber or beauty shop.

Does the facility offer guest accommodations for visiting relatives or friends? Look into the type and frequency of social activities. Do these types of events interest you? Are trips away from the facility offered?

Because you would be living in much smaller quarters, be sure to look at the public rooms available for your use and enjoyment. Is the dining room pleasant? At what times are meals served? Is there a small private dining room where you could host a family get-together? Is an activity room available and what activities are offered? Are evening as well as daytime activities planned? Is there an exercise room and, if so, what type of equipment is provided? Do these rooms appear to be used?

Ask a current resident to act as a guide for your tour. Try to have a meal as part of your visit. Be aware of how friendly the staff members are to residents. They should treat the residents with respect and know them by name.

Take time after your visit to consider whether the facility will allow you to live as easily and independently as you would like. There are many facilities and each has something that others may not have. Don’t rush into making a decision.

Q: A friend of mine just mentioned that she has attended several presentations of interest to seniors at the Westlake Village Civic Center. Is this an ongoing offering and, if so, can you shed any light?

A: Senior Concerns in cooperation with the city of Westlake Village present a monthly seminar at the Westlake Village Civic Center.

The series is known as “Senior Issues” and is scheduled for 1:30-3 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month except January, August and December. The seminars are free and no reservations are required. The next seminar is scheduled for April 15. The subject will be “Do You Know How Volunteering Helps Your Community?”

Call the Senior Advocate’s Office at 495-6250 or Westlake Village City Hall at 818-706-1613 for more information.


April 12: Community garage sale, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks. Call 381-2744 for more information.

Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362. Call 495-6250 or email betty@seniorconcerns.org (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.

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