Deciding on Retirement Communities
Deciding on a retirement community for yourself or a family member is no simple task. There are many factors in play when it comes to the decision and it’s quite possible that each family member will have a different opinion on what is best. In this article, I hope to make the decision much less stressful by offering a guide and strategy you can put into place so the whole family will be happy with the decision.
Make sure everyone is on the same page
As mentioned above, being on the same page will help lower anxiety and stress, something which is important at this stage in life.
More often than not it’s the adult children investigating options for their parents. As you can imagine, convincing someone to leave their life-long home can be a challenge.
It’s imperative to find a way to unite and work together to find a solution everyone agrees with. The best way to go about it is to have a family member take the lead, one that will consider all points of view while keeping the needs of the loved one(s) who are moving a priority.
For example, what will happen with the house if it’s owned? Sell, pass down to family or rent out? Which retirement community is best? You must also talk timelines and organize which items to keep and which to sell, give or throw away.
It’s no easy task, especially for those with mobility issues and because most of the ageing population has been in one house for 30, 40, 50+ years hanging on to many items of sentimental value.
Create a Must-Have List
The must-have list will be the most important list you create. It will need to be centred around costs, location, and care needed.
What will all of this cost? That’s the most stressful question in many peoples’ minds when they begin this journey.
You will need to look at any and all fees you’ll be facing and what you and/or your parents are able to afford. Create a spreadsheet of income and the costs of retirement communities.
Keep it simple to begin with. What are the current monthly expenses and how do they compare to retirement community options? Is there anything you can live without right now that will free up some money? Is there equity in the home that will help cover costs?
Where do you, or they, ideally want to live? This could be anywhere in the world! For many, it’s a simple answer, “close to the kids.” Wherever the perfect location may be, it will need to be a discussion with the family.
If care is needed, which type will it be? And will “future-proofing” the care be required? For example, some people may have developing health concerns to take into account. Finding a place with certain services that may not be needed NOW, but will be LATER, will be much better than moving into a community only to have to move again in a couple of years.
Here are the types of care to look into:
Administered by the government, long-term care is for seniors who require 24-hour nursing care and daily support.
Home Care Services
Best for seniors who choose to remain at home and require specific care service(s).
Memory Care Services
Ideal for those with middle to late stages of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.
Perfect for all ages who have limitations in physical or cognitive health.
For those who are active and self-sufficient looking for a community to join with others of the same age and interests.
Create a Wish List
Now that you’ve had the discussions, started planning, and determined the must-haves, you can begin creating a wish list of wants.
Everyone's wish list will be different, so again it’s time to have a deep discussion. Do you/they want an active retirement community? Maybe on a golf-course or access to activities on the water, bike paths, etc. Or something more modest such as close to amenities such as shopping, groceries, hospital, bus station? Perhaps a community with everything in once place where one doesn’t have to leave but can socialize with the other retirees?
The possibilities are endless and the world is open! The wish list may change over time as you dig deeper into researching communities, and that’s completely okay.
Gather Options - Create a Checklist
By now you have the budget more-or-less figured out, the needs and wants are decided so now it’s time to get organized before touring any retirement communities. Otherwise, you’ll spend countless time checking out every community only to become frustrated and never finding a place.
Create a Pros and Cons List and starting searching for retirement communities online. Be sure to prioritize the needs, wants, and services. Compare each community by location, cost, and room type.
Develop a checklist so you can easily compare the communities and what they include and don’t include. In the next step, you’ll only view the locations that match what you are looking for.
See Communities First-Hand
Retirement communities will welcome you and your family to take a tour, and there’s no better way to get a feel for a place than to see it first-hand.
By following the steps above, you should have 4-5 top places to check out in person. Be sure to keep your eyes open to look at ALL aspects of the community, not just the services and room size. Pay special attention to the staff, are they warm and welcoming or cold and grumpy? Sames goes for those already living in the community, go with your gut.
After all the research and viewing communities, you’ll have all the information needed to make an informed final decision. At the end of the day, you must do what’s best for those moving into a retirement community knowing they’ll be happy and taken care of properly if required.
If you have questions about downsizing, the process, or what to do with a property (whether to keep, sell, or rent out) I‘ll be happy to help. Contact me today!