How to Choose the Retirement Community That’s Right for You

Is your home or room the most important part of retirement community living? Do you want a place that has ample amenities or services? When you have specific interests or ‘needs,’ it helps to use those as a way to narrow down your list of possible communities. The process of choosing a retirement community can seem daunting, but it’s also an exciting new time in your life and there are so many more options available to seniors today than there were ten, twenty, or even thirty years ago.

Decide what you want out of a retirement community

Common retirement community amenities might include…

  • Dining venues
  • Fitness or exercise programs and centers
  • Spas
  • Facilities for recreational and social activities
  • Housekeeping
  • Landscaping and exterior maintenance
  • Shuttles or other scheduled transportation
  • Spiritual services

While having a pool might be fun, make sure it’s worth the investment because that’s exactly what retirement communities are: an investment in your wellbeing and future. Ideally, you want to find a community that focuses on whole-person wellness, meaning they’ll help you stay physically fit, social, meet your emotional and intellectual needs, provide vocational support, and spiritual guidance.

Getting older can be difficult, especially when you aren’t sure about what your future holds—or what your options will be once you’re ready to retire. For the savvy senior, there are plenty of options to take advantage of so long as you plan ahead and think long and hard about what you want out of your retirement.

If you’ve decided on joining a retirement community, you’ve probably realized that there are many—perhaps too many—choices available. Making a final decision and moving into a retirement community is a complicated and emotional time for any senior and their families; and that can be exacerbated if there are health issues or financial concerns involved.

Consider your health

If you have a condition, injury, or physical impairment that prohibits the way you can live, it’s very important to ensure the communities you’re considering can accommodate your needs. Some common questions to ask might include:

  1. Does your facility have access to local health care, such as a hospital, physicians, etc?
  2. Do you offer continuing care?
  3. Is there 24-hour nursing care available?
  4. Does the community offer memory care?

Your health can easily determine your happiness, and although onsite medical facilities could mean higher costs, it’s important to consider it an investment in your longevity. Knowing what kind of healthcare you have access to while residing in the community is paramount to maintaining your existing quality of health and mobility. With retirement, you want to aim to maintain or improve your quality of life. It should never diminish when you move into a retirement community.

Establish your budget and look for communities in your price range

Will you have to sell your current home to make the move? What kind of financing will you have available if you want to move into a retirement community? Mapping out your finances will help you determine how you’ll be able to finance the move, and which communities you might have access to. You should also collect a list of total costs, as some expenses may not be obvious. Being surprised by higher fees after the decision has been made can put a stopper in your retirement plans easily.

Anticipate future events, costs, and needs

One of the most important questions you want to answer early on is whether your decision will affect any other retirement goals you may have. If the expense is so great that you can’t also travel like you’ve always wanted to, or retire in the way you had planned, then you may have to revise your options.

This is why it is critical to treat the decision as a process with many variables to consider.

Don’t wait until the last second

Many retirement communities have long waiting lists, sometimes months long; and overall, there’s a lot of work and research to do before a final decision is made. Performing your due diligence and tapping into available resources is the simplest way to get all of your answers so you may a more informed and thoughtful decision.

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