Your Ultimate Guide to Life at Otterbein

Posted on: June 5, 2024

We know that choosing the right senior living community requires a lot of research and thought. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our most frequently asked questions about Otterbein SeniorLife. Whether you’re hearing about us for the first time or considering us for yourself or a loved one, our FAQ guide will give you more information and point you in the right direction.


What is Otterbein SeniorLife?

Otterbein SeniorLife is a vibrant, faith-based, non-profit ministry founded in 1912 that serves older adults throughout Ohio and in Indiana. Otterbein provides a variety of lifestyle choices, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitative care, home health, and hospice. Our programs encourage independence while enriching individual life journeys for all.


What does the term CCRC mean? I see it frequently listed in describing this community.

CCRC stands for Continuing Care Retirement Community and is commonly used to describe senior living communities that provide a continuum of care — independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, memory support, and rehabilitative care — all in one community.


What are SeniorLife Neighborhoods and Small Houses?

Otterbein SeniorLife Neighborhoods are built in partnership with the Green House Project to provide skilled nursing, memory support, long-term care, and rehabilitation services in a real-home setting, placing an emphasis on choice and independence for elders in their daily schedules. Our neighborhoods consist of several small houses, each with its own team of compassionate staff.

Small house residents — called elders — have private suites with a shared family room and kitchen, similar to a large house. Elders decide when and what they wish to eat — and what activities they’d like to do each day. A dedicated team of nursing staff is on duty 24 hours a day, meeting needs as they arise while forming caring relationships with each individual elder. Due to the popularity of the SeniorLife Neighborhoods, we have added more private suites to our existing neighborhoods.

Check out our small house floor plan and see what’s inside >>



I hear Otterbein is faith-based and associated with the United Methodist Church. Do I need to be United Methodist?

No — Otterbein is inclusive to residents of all faiths and beliefs.


Is a community like Otterbein very expensive? How much does it cost?

In most cases, living at Otterbein is no more expensive than the cumulative costs of living at your current residence.

See our most updated costs of living at Otterbein here.


If I choose Otterbein, will I invest a large entrance fee or turn over my home and assets?

No! Otterbein provides an array of payment options, including a standard month-to-month services fee with no required upfront investment. In no situation does Otterbein require you to turn over any of your existing assets, including your current home.

Ready to learn more about Otterbein? Schedule a tour today >>

Otterbein Sunset House resident sitting with her daughter smiling.

You mention an array of payment options — what are they, and how do I know which is best for me?

Otterbein lifestyle counselors will work with you and provide you with data that an external financial consultant can use to help determine your best option. In addition to an array of unique residences, each with different costs associated with design, size, and location, Otterbein has three options for payments.

  1. A monthly services fee, with no up-front payment.
  2. A pre-determined “entrance fee” is dependent upon the design, size, and location of the residence you choose. This fee is 100 percent refundable to you should you choose to leave the community or move from independent living into health care (assisted living or skilled nursing), or to your estate in the event of your passing. Throughout the time you reside in independent living, the investment of the upfront fee yields a substantial discount from the monthly services fee, typically well above the return you might yield from all but the riskiest investments.
  3. A Refundable Life Use Fee (RLUF) is difficult to explain in short form but is a standard offering in the industry. In an RLUF, the resident selects an amount of money to invest upfront, and based upon the amount, the resident receives a credit against the monthly services fee for the duration of their residence at Otterbein. Any refund of the RLUF matures in a straight-line basis over 11 years; therefore, there is no remaining balance to refund. However, the credit lasts as long as you reside at Otterbein.


If I invest in a refundable entrance fee, how do I know that my money is secure and Otterbein is financially stable?

Otterbein is one of the largest non-profit senior living organizations in the country and has been in operation for over 100 years. Standard and Poor’s (S&P) assigned Otterbein an “A” investment rating, a mark matched by few other U.S. non-profit service providers. Otterbein is stable and financially secure.


What is included in the monthly services fee?

The monthly services fee includes virtually all of the independent living services you would ordinarily fund — rent, interior and exterior maintenance (including all appliances), security, some transportation, and access to numerous activities and services. Some communities include meal plans; others offer meals at reasonable prices. Also included are a variety of hidden costs like property taxes and home insurance. Those who live at Otterbein say it is the best deal around!


Does the monthly fee go up considerably every year?

Otterbein is a non-profit entity but, unfortunately, is still subject to typical inflationary cost increases. Annual services fee increases typically range from zero to three percent, but feel free to ask your Otterbein contact for the recent fee increase history in your community.


If I move to Otterbein, do I have to switch to Otterbein doctors?

Most residents retain their current doctors — those with whom they have developed a trusting relationship. That said, should it be more convenient, Otterbein SeniorLife Communities have a medical director, clinic services, and ease of access to doctors onsite. We also maintain relationships with hospitals and doctors throughout the local community.


What are Otterbein wellness services?

Otterbein’s goal is to help residents stay in their choice of residence as long as possible. To accomplish this goal, residents may have occasional or ongoing requirements for services that may be scheduled in advance. Wellness services available to Otterbein and local community residents include clinic care, nurses, in-home care, personal care, homemaker services, companionship, transportation, and more.



My spouse and I will move in as a couple. What happens if one of us needs health care before the other?

First, all Otterbein SeniorLife Communities provide access to wellness services. These services are performed in independent living residences and are designed to allow each resident to age in place longer, often delaying a move to assisted living or skilled nursing.

Second, should one spouse require care that cannot be provided in independent living, the couple may remain together in the same community, albeit in separate residences depending on the level of care required.


What happens if I move into an independent living residence and my health starts failing?

Otterbein provides a variety of options. If support can be scheduled, Otterbein wellness services are available to help with home and healthcare-based services. If you need more extensive support, Otterbein — in association with your doctors, family, and you — is ready, willing, and able to help you make the transition to another part of the same campus.


Do you offer memory care services?

Yes — our communities and neighborhoods offer memory care services to help your loved one stay safe, social, and active. Our memory care program, Milestones at Otterbein, helps ensure we provide the best possible care.

Learn more about our memory care services.


Can I bring my own furnishings with me?

Absolutely, and Otterbein lifestyle counselors are ready to help you coordinate the move.


What is the food like?

Otterbein recognizes that meals are critical to a long and enjoyable life. You’ll have plenty of dining options. All independent living residences include fully equipped kitchens for personal meal preparation; full-service restaurants with daily menus; and frequent resident events and activities with meal opportunities, both on- and off-campus.

Visit one of our community pages to see sample menus, including our entrees, side dishes, and tempting desserts!

Schedule a tour of Otterbein today for a first-hand look at our community >>



What is the Otterbein policy regarding pets?

Independent living patio homes or villas allow pets (typically cats, dogs, birds, or fish) of any size as long as you can ensure they are safe for other residents and on leashes in common spaces. Independent living apartments have restrictions, dependent upon the community — ask your Otterbein lifestyle counselor for details. By the way, Otterbein wellness services provides dog walking, grooming care, and even medical care for pets, if needed.

Find animal lovers at Otterbein SeniorLife Communities >>



Do you accept Veteran benefits?

Absolutely, and many Otterbein residents are veterans. Work with your Otterbein lifestyle counselor if you need assistance applying or finding a contact.


How do I know when the timing is right to move?

Leaving behind the worries of home maintenance, feeling secure with your future health care decisions, and having a wide range of socially engaging programming every day makes life easier. Whether you can decide for yourself before your health changes or an event forces a move, now is the ideal time.

Those who make the decision frequently wish they’d made it sooner. It is a smart choice to make early in your senior years to take advantage of all the benefits. Usually, older adults prefer not to leave the choice to their children, and many Otterbein families say, “My parent moving to Otterbein was the greatest gift I’ve received.”

Learn 5 benefits of moving into a senior apartment >>


What will a typical week be like if I move to Otterbein?

People often comment they simply don’t have time to enjoy all the great social and educational opportunities Otterbein has to offer — musical groups, woodshops, art classes, chair yoga, swimming classes (at communities with a pool), book clubs, educational programs, and more. In addition, you can delight in bible study or church services…perhaps even lunch with a group of friends. You might find yourself tending to flowers, enjoying the community garden, or catching bass with the grandkids.

We offer all types of social, educational, physical, and mental stimulation to make your week special. Some people like relaxing with family or traveling for a special occasion. By leaving all the chores behind, you’ll have plenty of time in your week to do what YOU want.

See why senior living can be better than living alone >>


If I move to Otterbein and I’m not happy, am I stuck?

Of course not! The Otterbein contract may be terminated with 30 days’ notice, so you may leave and live closer to your family or another location. As a side note, our resident satisfaction rate is well over 95 percent, and very few ever choose to leave. Once you make friends and relish in the freedom from home worries, you will feel liberated, not stuck.

People come to Otterbein for a wide variety of reasons, but once on campus, they discover a whole way of life — a way of life that exposes them to opportunities largely missing from their current lives. In fact, nearly every Otterbein resident wishes they had chosen to make the move years before.


How can I learn more about life at Otterbein?

Ready to take the next step? Schedule a tour at one of our locations throughout Ohio and in Indiana — and experience the Otterbein lifestyle for yourself.

This blog was originally posted in 2018 and updated in January 2024.