Many seniors face decisions during their older years regarding where to live, often times considering some type of retirement community. There are several different types of settings available and each family needs to evaluate the options and determine which living situation provides the best fit. What are some of the issues to consider when looking at retirement communities?
Consider your senior’s needs for social activities and support
As the New York Post explains, there are many different types of retirement communities available. Active-adult or 55+ neighborhoods typically include a lot of autonomy while providing access to additional support. Assisted-living facilities offer more daily support and continuing-care retirement options include multiple levels of care to ensure minimal transitions as a senior’s needs increase. There is also skilled nursing home care for those with more significant needs.
Retirement communities usually offer a wide variety of social activities to their residents, but you want to make sure that your loved one’s interests are addressed. Do they still love to swim, play golf or tennis, or get out and about on their own? Would they like access to outdoor excursions, shopping trips, a gym or spa? Is their focus more on facility-driven opportunities like card games, bingo, and book clubs?
Examine the community rules and expectations
Check into a community’s rules to see if any will cause issues. Ask about owning pets, visiting grandchildren, and landscaping restrictions if those are important to you. In addition, many communities also have restrictions related to grilling, parking, and quiet hours. Forbes suggests asking about the community’s approval process so you can make sure you are comfortable providing the required information.
Get a feel for the culture in the community and try to determine whether there are social or cultural expectations that will impact your senior’s experience. For example, Next Avenue explains that if skipping social gatherings is frowned upon, and your loved one won’t always want to attend these, that facility may not be the right fit.
Spend time at the facility if you can, staying a night or two when possible to immerse yourself into the community to get a sense for whether it’s a fit. Visit at different times of the day, since staffing and activities will change over the course of the day, and check out the dining area while a meal is being served.
Evaluate financial commitments, learn about staffing and security
Determine whether purchasing a place is the right move versus paying a monthly fee and figure out all of the fees involved. Price structures should be detailed in a contract and you need to know when and how much fees can increase as well as what additional costs that may come into play. You also want details about how you can end a contract if needed, or when a facility can ask a resident to leave.
Families often have certain expectations regarding security and staffing at a retirement community they’re considering. Ask about staff turnover, as high turnover may be a red flag you need to evaluate. What security measures does the facility utilize? Is it a gated neighborhood or are visitors within a contained facility carefully monitored? Is there security and support provided around-the-clock?
When choosing a retirement community, look at your senior’s needs and ask plenty of questions. Rules and financial commitments can vary greatly and you want to find a spot that keeps your senior engaged, safe, and happy without feeling overwhelmed. Whether you decide on an active-adult, assisted-living, or skilled nursing setting, dig into the details during your search so your senior can spend their golden years in comfort.
Thank you to our member Mike Longsdon for writing and sharing this very informative article.