By Mary Holmes
In my last blog, “Retirement Living – So Many Options”, I discussed the various options for retirement living, including 55+ communities, independent living, assisted living and nursing homes. Although having options is typically a good thing, it can also be overwhelming and breed indecision. So where do you start narrowing in on what’s best for you? Please keep reading to see five steps to make this decision a little easier.
Location, Location, Location
Determining what geographic area you want to live in is the first step. Many seniors want to stay in the same area of the state that their current home resides. In this way, they will still be close to friends and family in the area. Others may want to retire to a different area of the state of country. Perhaps they are seeking a climate that is more desirable to them, e.g. drier air versus the humidity in Maine or warmer temperatures year round. Or possibly, they want to be closer to a child that is in another state.
A key factor in determining what living situation will be right for you is your current health and need for assistance. If you can perform all of the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs - eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring, and continence) and can manager on your own in an emergency, you can choose from any of the available options – including a 55+ community. Even if you feel you might need some assistance in an emergency, many independent living communities can provide that help either by having 24-hour front desk services that you can reach out to or a medical alert system that will notify someone that you need help. If you are moving for medical reasons, you should consider a community that offers assisted living. And, as mentioned in my previous blog, a good option may be a Continuing Care Retirement Community – so you can move through the various stages as your situation changes.
Let’s Talk Money
Obviously, available financial resources is a huge determinant in what will work for you. There are several key factors you should be aware of before you start your search. Some communities require an upfront buy in – similar to buying a new home. Upon your leaving the community, you will generally get a percentage of this money back (or it will go to your estate). These type of communities will also have a monthly fee in most cases. Other communities will only have a monthly fee – sometimes there will be a time commitment (similar to a lease) and other times it will be month-to-month. What’s important to research here is what is included in the monthly fee, which varies widely. In general, the more medical services that are provided, the higher the cost, e.g. assisted living will be more expensive than independent living.
Services, Activities, Amenities
Most communities offer a variety of services and activities – after all, that’s one of the top reasons why seniors move from their home to a community. But not all communities are the same. Figuring out what is important to you will help you to determine if you will be truly happy at a community. Here are some examples of things to consider: is the laundry in your room or in a common area; is there outdoor living space, e.g. a balcony or patio; do you have access to staff 24 hours a day; is there a store, hair salon, pharmacy; is their regular transportation for those that don’t drive; are their daily activities both on-site and off-site; is their housekeeping, etc. Another area to consider is meal planning. Do you want to cook your own meals in your own kitchen or do you want to eat with others in a common dining room (or some combination of the two)? Do you want to sit with the same people and eat at the same time for each meal or do you want to have more flexibility?
How Does It Feel
Each community has its own feel or personality. Things to think about here are: is the community in a rural or urban setting and what is right for you; how are the homes within the community laid out – does it feel as though you will have your privacy or you will be isolated; is it easy to get around to the events/activities that are most important to you; is it too big or too small; how do you feel when you are there – does it feel like it could be home? I would recommend spending as much time in the community as you can before making a decision. This will give you an opportunity to see if the residents are active, whether the community is friendly, and if the staff is genuinely interested and involved with the community.
There are services that can help you work through these decisions and advocate for you when working with a retirement community. One of these services is Beach Glass Transitions in Scarborough, Maine. If you have further questions, please Contact Us.