Researching a Retirement Community? Top Tips from Residents


When learning about life in an older adult community, creating a checklist of wants and needs may bring clarity to what features are most important to you. Here are top research tips from residents...

1. Dining Flexibility

Good quality meals always rank high when considering a move to an older adult community. Is meal variety and choice important to you?

One of the attractions of living at United is the flexible mealtimes and all-day menu. The kitchen is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and features daily specials developed by our professional chefs, alongside a menu that is available throughout the day.

Residents choose what to eat, when to eat, and with whom to eat. Plus, the all-day menu offers flexibility for those who choose to dine or snack outside standard mealtimes. Family and friends are welcome too! And if cooking your own meals is a priority or passion, we offer suites with full kitchens.

“We really like the idea of all-day dining,” said resident Sharyn. “We can go to the dining room any time, and can sit wherever we want. There is no assigned seating.”

2. Community Amenities

Many people make a move into an older adult community because it offers a hassle-free lifestyle – less maintenance around the house and more spaces designed for your comfort and convenience.

At United, heated underground parking is a must for many residents. Walking across an icy parking lot to get into a cold, snow-covered vehicle isn’t fun, and can present extra risks for slips and falls. Our communities offer underground parking to help take the edge off winter.

In-suite laundry is another valued extra, with each suite offering washer and dryer units.

“This was really important for us,” said Sharyn. “I didn’t want to cart my laundry basket down the hall or elevator.”

Whether it’s access to outdoor space, nearby services and shopping, or a variety of common spaces where neighbours and friends can gather, consider which amenities are must-haves and look for these in the communities you tour.

3. On-site Professionals

Regular exercise is important, but not everyone likes to get in the car and drive to the gym each day. As part of our commitment to fostering an active lifestyle, United’s communities bring certified Kinesiologists to you to guide a variety of fitness programs and classes. There is also an option for one-on-one support to address specific or individual issues such as rehabilitation from a fall or surgery, or a chronic issue that may negatively impact strength or daily functions. 

“For us, working with older adults comes down to kindness and patience, and understanding what the resident wants to achieve,” said Tracy Roberts, one of United’s Kinesiologists. “The bottom line is that we want residents to get stronger so that they can perform the activities that are important to them.”

United engages in-house professionals to bring expertise to residents in a variety of ways: professional artists in our art studio, a highly skilled nursing team to deliver exceptional care, experienced maintenance and housekeeping teams, and a dining experience led by professional trained chefs. The goal of our team is simple – to deliver an exceptional experience.

4. Arts and Culture Programs

Have you ever wanted to learn piano, or create something beautiful from a handful of clay? United has fully-equipped art studios, staffed by professional artists to help get you started.

We pride ourselves in setting the bar higher to provide a wide range of extraordinary arts and culture programs through partnerships with organizations such as the Calgary Philharmonic OrchestraHonens and Lunchbox Theatre. If you’re looking for ways to connect and make new friends, take a look at the community calendar and ask yourself, are there options that align with your interests? Are there any programs or activities led by residents? Are there opportunities for outings in the broader community?

“The art studio is so much fun. It is an art studio that would be the envy of any of the artists that I’ve known or worked with, from the lighting to equipment to the facilities, everything you can want as an artist,” said resident Sheila.

5. Speaking of Community…

Couples want to stay together, no matter the health issues they face. Consider if this is important to you and whether the communities you are looking at will support the connection of you and your partner as your needs change.

United communities focus on supporting the close ties of spouses by ensuring they remain together if they choose. With our unique approach to memory care (United Minds), individuals living with a dementia diagnosis or cognitive impairment are welcomed and integrated into our communities, with a focus on ensuring every resident can live their potential and participate in community in ways that align with their interests.

“We are completely satisfied that United Active Living will be providing for us as a couple. We can be independent if we like to. And we can have assistance if we like to. But we can go through it together,” said Sharyn.

“I like the companionship, because when I lived in my condo, I lived there all by myself. This has a wonderful feeling of community,” said Louise.

6. Check Out the Suites

Moving from a home to an older adult community can often ben an exercise in downsizing, but that shouldn’t mean you need to part with the belongings that mean the most to you. When considering whether a community is right for you, it’s important to think about how much space you’ll need. Storage space including closets and cupboards along with ample square feet can be crucial to ensuring the transition is a smooth one, and that you have room to make your new space look and feel like home.

“I love our apartment. It’s just perfect for us. When I first walked in here and saw it and said ‘aww it’s so me!’ and I’ve been really happy with it. It’s one bedroom, well over a 1,000 sq. feet so plenty of room for us,” said resident Ruth.

Did you know? United Active Living’s two communities also have trial stay and respite suites for those who need a little extra care following an illness or surgery, or for those who want to see what living in an older adult community is all about.

7. Decide What’s Best for You

Most importantly, what’s in your best interest is up to you. Read, research and talk with your friends and family. Visit a few older adult communities to understand whether a move makes sense at this stage and to get an idea of what a transition could look like.

“We are very happy with our choice being here. All the other residences we looked at didn’t have the number of amenities that we were looking for. United Active Living had it all. United Active Living just suited everything that we were looking for,” said Sharyn.

Our doors Are Open.

We can’t wait to meet you! If considering options for the next stage of life is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, we’re here to introduce you to life at United Active Living. Our United Active Living Advisors are available to answer your questions and help you decide on your terms. Arrange a tour by clicking on the contact link below.

Come see how we’re transforming the experience of aging to make the next years of life your best years.

Visit or call us at 587-602-2878 to book your tour today!

Article by:

Garrison Green by United Active Living a retirement community located in Calgary, Alberta.
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