So, you’re starting to research senior care options. But where do you start? What makes sense for your specific needs? Your friend claims to know the best retirement communities in Hawaii, but you think otherwise. Here’s the good news: knowing what’s right starts with knowing what to ask. We have you covered with the ultimate Hawaii senior living checklist:

Search senior living by location:

  • Is the senior living community in a town that you like?
  • Is it convenient for family and friends to visit?
  • How far away is the airport?
  • Is the area safe, with a low crime rate?
  • Is it close to shopping, restaurants, a medical center, and other services?

When you call ask:

  • Are you currently accepting new residents?
  • If not, is there a waitlist, and how long is the wait? 
  • Are there age restrictions on this senior living community?
  • Is the community gated or open?
  • What is the cost range, and is there a buy-in fee?
  • What services and amenities are included in the price?
  • What services are available for additional fees?
  • What types of payment do you accept?
  • What are the housing options, and do they suit your needs?
  • Is this a continuum of care community (CCRC)? (Are there other levels of care available, such as assisted living, should you need it?)
  • Do you have any programs to help with the transition process?

When you visit ask: 

  • About living arrangements:
    • Do you have a wide range of housing options, including smaller apartments or studios should you wish to downsize?
    • Did you show us all the different types of units available?
    • Is there adequate in-unit storage space, and is additional storage provided?
    • How are the views?
    • Are pets allowed and, if so, are there limits on type or size?
    • Will you be allowed to have visitors at any time and overnight, or are there other rules?
    • Is there a homeowners’ association with membership fees?
    • Are there homeowner rules about upkeep and decorating?
    • Will you be required to have renter’s insurance?
    • Are housekeeping services available, and at what price?
    • Which maintenance issues are you responsible for and which are included with the unit?
  • About cooking and food:
    • Will visiting family members be invited to join in for meals?
    • How often does the menu change?
    • Do you accommodate special diets and allergies?
    • Is there a meal plan, and how flexible is it?
  • About activities and social life:
    • How are the common spaces?
    • How large are the outdoor areas for recreation and exercise?
    • Is there an extensive, varied schedule of classes and activities?
    • Are there evening events, such as movie nights and local performances? 
    • Is there a gym or fitness center?
    • Are there media and computer rooms available?
    • Is there a private dining or community room available for special events?
    • Are there religious services in the community or nearby?
    • Is there a barbershop and beauty salon in the community or nearby?
  • About the staff:
    • Is there an activity director or staff member charged with organizing and leading activities?
    • What’s the staff turnover rate?
    • Are background checks performed before hiring staff? If so, when and how?
    • How much training do staff members have?
    • Does the community work with an agency or registry that provides in-home care companions in case you need future assistance?
  • About medical care:
    • Is there an RN or CNA on staff?
    • What specific services are available from doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and others?
    • Is the community affiliated with a hospital or nursing home if more care is needed?
  • Forms to ask for:
    • A recent list of weekly activities and events
    • A recent weekly menu of meals and snacks

Closing words of advice:

Write down all the answers to your questions as you go, and keep a checklist like this for each of the retirement communities in Hawaii you visit.

If your visit was scheduled ahead of time, it’s a good idea to return for an impromptu drop-in visit to see if your experience is just as pleasant. (If you’re told you can’t come in for an unscheduled visit, that’s a very bad sign.)

Once you’ve narrowed your choices down to a few favorites, schedule in-depth follow-up visits and dig a little deeper.

For more information on what to expect, contact our friendly staff at The Plaza Assisted Living.


Senior living isn’t what you think… and in the best way possible. Moving an elderly relative or parent into one of the many retirement communities in Hawaii comes with a certain set of expectations—many of which are either outdated or untrue. It’s time to rethink senior living with these four surprising facts:

Fact #1: Moving doesn’t mean leaving home behind
Senior living communities in Hawaii want their residents to feel at home. This means giving them the option to bring their own furniture, belongings, or anything else that makes their new living situation feel comfortable and personal. Most senior care options will even accommodate household pets that are coming along for the move. The goal of Hawaii senior living is to give your elderly family all the care they need, while disrupting their routines and daily lifestyles as little as possible.

Fact #2: Your loved one will find a thriving social environment
The best retirement communities in Hawaii offer residents all kinds of planned activities and shared amenities. From hula classes to arts and crafts, game nights to exercise programs—there’ll be plenty of opportunities to engage in community activities. For everyday socializing, residents can visit the library, stop by the salon, spend time outdoors, or relax with friends in the common room. Modern senior care options will make sure to meet the needs of those from underrepresented backgrounds, employing multi-lingual staff members so that every resident will feel properly cared for and understood.

Fact #3: Senior living is cozy & comfy, not cold & clinical
Hawaii senior living offers your loved one all the care they need, without sacrificing the feeling of home. Easy access to medical assistance does not equate to a living situation that lacks warmth or feels clinical. Many facilities will ensure that care and assistance are woven into everyday life in a way that feels natural. With a top-notch nursing staff and a cozy setting, residents get the best of both worlds.

Fact #4: Senior living does not have to break the budget
Today, senior care options are more affordable than ever. While many communities have unique expenses, these costs may still be much less than the cost of an in-home caregiver. And for working professionals, time spent tending to an elderly loved one can come with career sacrifices. For further financial assistance, it’s possible to consider government programs that have expanded to cover assisted living. If you’re considering senior living, our team at The Plaza can always help you find a plan that fits.


Going from life at home to life in senior living can be an emotional rollercoaster. Whether it’s a move to independent living in Honolulu, assisted living, or one of the many retirement communities in Hawaii, you can follow these steps to feel at ease.

Embrace your feelings

Relief, anxiety, optimism, stress. There’s a full spectrum of feelings that can arise as you transition your loved one into senior living. And guess what? It’s perfectly okay to feel whatever you feel. Embrace your emotions rather than resist them, so you can empathize with your loved ones as they process the change.

Talk openly, listen intently

With all senior care options, questions and concerns will likely come up. Make sure to talk honestly and caringly with your loved one and, more importantly, make them feel heard. A nurse or staff member can always assist you with any issue and can help you both feel comfortable.

Explore their new home together

Senior living communities in Hawaii have so much to offer. Get to know the home together: stop by the common room, introduce yourselves to neighbors, tour the facilities, check out all the amenities, review upcoming events and programs. An afternoon of exploration will help turn anxiety into excitement.

Meet the support network

Among the best aspects of Hawaii senior living is that residents are often there for each other. So encourage your loved one not to be shy. Meet their new neighbors before helping them move in. This is one of the most reliable ways to help the transition. Make sure to also introduce yourself and provide contact info to caregivers and nurses. This will not only be comforting to you, but will reassure staff knowing they can reach out if anything comes up.

It’s all alright

We all process change differently. But, as you get your loved one settled into senior living, you can relax knowing you’ve made the right decision. Health hazards and difficulties will now be diligently attended to, dining and cleaning are all taken care of, and a new social life is just beginning. Your loved one will now be completely at ease—and you should be too.

For more information on what to expect, contact our friendly staff at The Plaza Assisted Living.


You’re not alone. No one ever finds approaching their parents about senior living easy. But waiting until the last minute only adds drama to this major life transition. To help out, we put together several insightful tips on how to ease your aging loved ones into the big move.

From Open Mind to Action Plan
“What happens when…” Start with a question. Ask Mom and Dad about their feelings towards senior care options and retirement communities in Hawaii. What happens when they’ll no longer be able to live independently? Define living independently. Would they consider independent living in Honolulu at a senior home? Once you’ve discussed these questions, put together a plan of action.

Time & Space
If your parents aren’t ready to consider senior living, if they can cope with independence—physically and mentally—it could be best to give them time and space. You might be surprised by their ability to care for themselves. If the situation proves to be more than they can handle, it’ll allow them to see for themselves how they’d benefit from senior living communities in hawaii.

Care from the Comfort of Home
The least strenuous transition is no transition at all. Some families will want to turn to a visiting nurse or someone to help with everyday tasks at home. However, it’s important to consult with a senior living professional to help determine if this should be one of your senior care options.

Focus on the Good
Make it a matter of perspective. Your loved ones aren’t having to transition to senior living, they’re getting to move somewhere where everything will be taken care of. No more cooking and cleaning, doing the laundry or running errands. Some of the best retirement communities in Hawaii feature scenic settings with five-star dining, beautiful private rooms, fitness programs, and engaging activities. Keep it positive.

Explore Together
There are many amazing senior care options all over Hawaii. Choose a few that you and your parents find promising, arrange guided tours, and see what they think. Reassure them you’re just looking, not committing. Make it fun and exciting, and always let mom or dad feel like they have a major say in choosing when and where to move.

Factor in Illness Progression
A progressively debilitating condition can weigh heavily on your loved ones. So it should be given considerable weight when it comes to your decision. Make a plan based on the likely course of the illness, give yourself wiggle room, and ease the pressure of rushing into a potentially wrong decision.

Overcoming the “Final Residence” Fear
The anxiety and uncertainty that comes with moving to a senior living home—from assisted living to independent living in honolulu—usually has nothing to do with the new residence and everything to do with facing mortality. Sometimes, one-one-one counseling or a visit with a pastor or priest can offer peace when it comes to making the transition.

Leaving home and moving into senior living inevitably comes with a sense of loss and abandonment. But with love and compassion, you can comfort your loved ones, and help them navigate this major life transition.

Questions? We’re here for you and your family, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Welcome Heddy Cortijo, RN!

With 7 years of experience with The Plaza, Heddy knows our community & is a valuable asset!

Heddy Cortijo joined the Plaza at Punchbowl in 2014 as a Charge Nurse. She was promoted to Assistant Director of Nursing in 2018, where she assisted the Director of Nursing with the operations and management of the nursing department.  In 2019, she was promoted and became the Director of Nursing for The Plaza at Kaneohe. In 2021, Heddy joined the home office team as the Assessment Nurse Coordinator. 


Heddy was born and raised on Oahu and attended Moanalua High School. She started her career in healthcare working as a medical assistant and case manager for an agency that worked with the homeless population. Thanks to her experience with the agency and the influence of the many Nurse Practitioners she worked alongside, Heddy decided to further her education and attended Kapi’olani Community College, where she obtained both her Certificate in Practical Nursing and Associates Degree in Nursing. She then moved on and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Heddy enjoys being a part of The Plaza family and working with our residents and their families to make them feel at home.


In Heddy’s new role, she will provide added support to all Plaza Assisted Living communities and nursing teams while also being available to assist with urgent assessments for new residents and readmissions of our existing Residents.

Message from The Plaza

Yesterday, one of our communities was unfortunately the site of a tragic event.  At around 11:00am HST on Monday, August 31, a domestic incident occurred between a Resident of The Plaza at Waikiki and their visiting family member; resulting in two unattended fatalities.  Thankfully, none of our Team Members or other Residents were witness to the event, which took place in the parking garage of the community. 

Due to the ongoing investigation by the Honolulu Police
Department and Medical Examiner’s Office, we are unable to comment any further
or share additional details.

While yesterday’s event will be remembered with great
sadness and sorrow, we will forever be grateful for the outpouring of support
and gratitude received from our Residents, their families and so many others.  No one could have anticipated or planned for what
happened, but as always in challenging times, we were united and will get
through this together. 

Our thoughts, prayers and deep sympathies go out to the
family and loved ones of the individuals lost yesterday.

Signs Your Loved One May Need More Help – What to Look for this Holiday Season

by Cara Clemmons, Director of Sales for The Plaza Assisted Living

With the holidays around the corner, many families are reconnecting with loved ones they may not have seen in some time.  While 2020 has allowed for an endless amount of virtual visits, such as Zoom calls with Mom, there are key signs to look out for when visiting in person. Below are a few things to take notice of and consider, when determining if your loved one may be in need of more care than their current living situation provides.

  • Is your loved one wearing the same clothes since the last time you spoke?  Does your loved one look a bit disheveled or are they managing their grooming as they did before?  Many adult children notice this as a sign that perhaps their loved one is not taking care of themselves as they used to.  Sometimes this is due to activities of hygiene becoming challenging, as they age.  Other times, this could be due to lack of routine, onset of dementia, or even geriatric depression. 
  • Has your loved one lost some weight?  Weight loss can be a sign that your loved one needs more help.  Older adults stop eating for a variety of reasons, and it is always a good idea to check in, to see what is happening, if you start to notice, they have shed a few pounds since last you saw each other.  This can be for a variety of reasons including a lack of interest in food due to wakened sense of taste, side effects of medications, forgetting to eat, loss or weakened sense of taste, depression or even challenges securing groceries. 
  • Is your loved one repeating themselves often, seem a bit foggy or even aggressive?  Forgetfulness and confusion happen to the best of us, and it is a normal part of the aging process.  However, if you are noticing this more and more frequently with your loved one, this could be a sign of cognitive decline.   Some experiencing cognitive decline can experience aggression as well, and this may be a big change in their behavior.  If you are seeing these signs, it is always a good idea to check in with your loved one’s Primary Care physician, to monitor and even diagnose, if applicable.
  • Are there any physical injuries you notice on your loved one, such as bumps, bruises, skin tears or burns?  Are there any new visible damages to their vehicle or home?  Physical injuries and visible property damage can sometimes be symptoms of larger safety concerns in your loved ones life.  Many seniors may not remember a fall, but the physical injuries are a red flag, for you to investigate further. 
  • Does your loved one have any opportunities for socialization, or are they isolated?  In the era of COVID-19, so many of the normal socialization opportunities that our Kupuna had to engage with their peers have faded away.  Weekly choir practice has been canceled, church service has become virtual.  Reach out to your loved one and see if they have opportunities for socialization and human connection.  Socialization is not only good for cognitive health, but also good for the heart, as we are social beings who need interaction.  This also helps combat loneliness, isolation and depression.

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