After managing Plum Landing for 20+ years I thought it might benefit prospective residents and/or their families to share some of what I’ve learned during that time. First and foremost, I’ve learned that it really is all about hospitality, treating others as you’d like to be treated. Before Plum Landing I worked in the hospitality industry for almost 20 years for Hyatt Hotels, Kapalua Bay Hotel on Maui, and Wyndham Hotels. When I learned about this opportunity at Plum Landing, I wondered how my previous experience would translate to senior living. I realized we provided all of the same services – dining, housekeeping & maintenance, a front desk, accounting, etc. What separates hotels from their competition, and senior living from theirs, is how they deliver those services. Most of us stay at or go to places we’ve been before because we know they’ll deliver the services we expect.

So how do you choose a senior living community? You’ll probably start with your personal experience. Have you had any relatives or close friends living somewhere? Did they enjoy it, were they treated well. If not maybe you’ll “GOOGLE” senior living in the area your interested in. What area would that be? My advice is to choose an area with a friend or family member nearby. Someone who can visit occasionally. Moving out of a longtime home can be a scary thing to some. Having someone nearby can help with that transition. Maybe they’re moving back home from a place they retired to, like Florida. In that case they may already have several friends and family in the area. That happens a lot at Plum Landing.

Now that you’ve narrowed down locations, what about the services you’ll want. Some terms you’ll see in senior living include independent living (IL), assisted living (AL), and skilled nursing facilities (SNF). We’ll talk more about independent living in a moment. Assisted living means you’re going to need help with one or more activities of daily living – typically eating, dressing, bathing, maintaining continence, and mobility. Skilled nursing typically involves help with ADL’s AND professional medical care. There are a lot of levels of care in either AL or SNFs, so be sure to ask a lot of questions. Many start with a base rate and offer services a la carte. Make sure you know what you’re paying for.

So who’s a candidate for independent living? Generally IL would be appropriate for residents who can take care of themselves but no longer want the hassle of meal preparation, housekeeping, and maintaining a home. Meals are typically one of the top considerations when choosing a community. Make sure you understand the options. If meals are included ask how many and at what times of the day. In the past you’d always want to take a lunch tour to try the food and service and see other residents. These days with COVID that may be more difficult for a while. Many dining rooms are still closed or limited to residents only. In that case be sure you can ask residents what they think of the food or ask or look for on-line reviews.

Apartment sizes may range from studios to 2-bedrooms, maybe even a cottage. Some will have a full kitchen (like Plum Landing), some may have only a sink and microwave. While every apartment at Plum Landing includes a balcony or patio, that’s the exception not the rule. Transportation is another consideration since many residents may be thinking of giving up their car. Ask what type of transportation is available, is it included in the rent, etc. Plum Landing offers scheduled shopping trips and other activities at no charge, and private local transportation for a small fee. You’ll also want to ask what, if any, utilities are included in the rent. Maintenance and housekeeping are typically included, but ask for details.

Most IL communities will allow you to privately arrange for assistance with things like medication reminders or bathing if that’s all you need to maintain an independent lifestyle. Some may even have a preferred vendor they can recommend. This will often still be less expensive than AL while still maintaining the independent feel.

Just like my son preferred a large college to a small college, residents may have a preference to the size of the community they move to. Some like the intimacy of a smaller place with more personalized service and a sense of community. Others may prefer larger communities that potentially have a larger selection of activities or services.

Every community has different financial requirements. Private pay means you pay for everything out of pocket. Most IL communities fall under this arrangement. They will have different lease terms, maybe month to month vs. annual agreements. Most typically require a one month security deposit which is generally refundable with no major damage incurred when a resident moves out. Some require a “buy-in fee” that could range from $20,000 – $400,000. You will typically get all or a major portion of that back when they re-lease your unit. Each will still require monthly rent or a service fee. Plum Landing currently offer 2 types of leases – a month to month lease with a 30-day notice or a Guaranteed Rate program to lock in your rate for as long as you live here with a 60-day notice.

Once you narrow your choices down to maybe 3-5 communities, go visit each one in person if you can. Take note of your first impression. Did you feel welcome, was it clean and updated, were the staff pleasant and residents engaged? If you can, ask a resident if they like living there.

Good luck on your search. If we can be of any help or you have any questions, please contact Arelis Flores, Marketing Manager, at 630-896-5031 or e-mail her at arelis@plumlanding.org.

Don Mangers

Executive Director

don@plumlanding.org