7 Steps for Choosing the Best Retirement Living Community

Choosing the best retirement living community will offer senior citizens the opportunity for a simpler, safer, and more enjoyable way of life after 55.  But not all retirement living communities are right for everyone.

Some offer differing levels of health care that may be more extensive than you need. Others provide the health services you’re looking for yet don’t bring much to the table in the way of social and community interaction.

So, how do you choose the retirement community that’s right for you?

That’s exactly what we’re going to look at in this article. We’ll examine the seven specific steps you should take to find the best retirement living community that meets your unique needs.

Table of Contents

1. Determine the Right Level of Care Needed

Daughter with Father Deciding on Best Retirement Living Community

The first point to consider is how much additional care you need.

  • Are you able to handle day-to-day chores independently, or do you need help getting things done?
  • Do you have any medical needs that require regular in-home care?
  • Do you struggle with completing self-care tasks?

These are all questions you’ll want to answer first. Only then can you determine the level of care that’s right for you.

Generally speaking, you’ll likely need to choose between communities that offer independent living, assisted living, and nursing services.

Independent living typically won’t offer medical services, though staff will be able to connect you with such services should the need arise.

Assisted living will usually have some medical services on-site and will help with daily chores and tasks (cooking, housekeeping, etc.) that some senior citizens may have trouble with.

And nursing homes offer the highest level of care with around-the-clock help.

2. Figure Out the Financials

Next comes cost.

How much can you afford to pay on a monthly basis? There are a few things to remember when working out your budget.

  • The level of care is a big factor in the cost of a community. Independent retirement living communities tend to be the most affordable, assisted living communities are more expensive, and nursing homes are the most expensive.
  • There are plenty of ways to get financial assistance for your retirement living community, including Medicare, Veteran’s programs, reverse mortgages, and more. These can all help substantially reduce your costs.
  • You’ll need to factor in all the amenities of a community as well. For instance, some communities will include housekeeping, general maintenance, transportation, and meals into the price, all of which can reduce your costs significantly.

3. Land on a Location (Generally)

Next up is where you want to retire.

Do you want to stay in town, or is there somewhere else in the country (or the world) you’d rather be?

Ask yourself the following questions to help you decide what’s right for you.

  • How close do you want to be to the family? To friends?
  • What kinds of new expenses will come with moving (property taxes, transportation, unfamiliar types of insurance, etc.)?
  • Will a move affect your healthcare coverage and options?
  • Does the new location tax Social Security benefits differently?
  • Are you going to be surrounded by ways to fill your days happily?

4. Create a List of Community Qualities You’re Looking for

Daughter with Father Deciding on Best Retirement Living Community

Once you’ve landed on a location, it’s time to jot down the qualities and services you’re looking for in a retirement living community.

For instance, are you looking for a community that hosts lots of engaging social activities?

What about amenities like pools, whirlpools, gyms, and game rooms? Salons? Convenience shops?

Is transportation for in-town trips available to residents, or do they have to rely on their own vehicles?

  • Are there physical and occupational services on-site?
  • Pets, are they allowed?
  • What about worship services, are there any?

These are all great questions to ask when trying to come up with the qualities you want to see in your retirement living community.

5. Start Taking Tours

You’re likely going to find out lots of information about retirement living communities from their websites and on phone calls. Even still, you’ll want to be sure you actually see these communities in person before deciding on the right one for you.

During your in-person tours, try to get a sense of the feel of the facility.

What’s the general mood of the residents? How do they interact with staff? Are there plenty of activities to keep you busy, or is everyone huddled in a single, central room? And don’t forget to taste the food, too.

If an in-person trip doesn’t make sense for you, try to set up a virtual meeting instead.

Tour Cape Albeon

6. Ask the Right Questions

In order to find the right retirement living community for you, you need to be sure you’re asking all the right questions.

Questions like:

  • What types of medical services do you offer?
  • What kinds of meal plans do you have?
  • What’s included in the monthly fees?
  • How is your staff trained?
  • What floor plans, furniture, accessibility options, etc., are available?

And remember, there are no bad questions when trying to figure out the right community for you.

7. Decide on the Best Option for You

Finally, it’s decision time.

Which of the communities really stood out to you during your tours? Did it have all the qualities you were looking for? Is it in the right location? And does it make good financial sense?

Then, all that’s left is working with the retirement community staff to settle on the logistics of moving in. They may even have resources to help ease your transition.

The most important thing to remember is to make a decision based on your best interests.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to choosing the best retirement community for you.

When Should I Move to a Retirement Community?

While most senior living residents made the move between the ages of 75 and 84, the truth of the matter is that there’s no right age—it depends entirely upon your unique situation.

That being said, there are a few signs to be on the watch for that tend to indicate it’s time to start looking for a retirement community.

Signs like:

  • Have trouble with or are tired of managing your finances
  • Aren’t maintaining friendships or meeting new people
  • Struggle with completing daily tasks on your own
  • Rarely or no longer cook for yourself
  • Stopped engaging in old hobbies or exploring new interests
  • Not as physically active as you’d like to be

Making the move to a retirement community can help simplify your day-to-day and give you the care and connection you need to thrive.

What Are the Different Levels of Senior Care?

Generally speaking, there are seven different levels of senior care available.

Family Provided & In-Home Care – Many elderly receive care from family members. Pew Research estimates that 40.4 million US citizens are unpaid caregivers for people 65 and over. Many family members don’t have the time or expertise to offer the right level of care, though. In these cases, in-home professional health workers may still be required.

Adult Day Programs – These programs provide a safe, socially stimulating environment for the elderly during daytime hours. This makes it a great choice for those who are receiving morning and evening family that’s not available during the day due to other obligations (e.g., another job).

Independent Living Facilities – These facilities are campuses where elderly residents can rent or purchase apartments or condominiums while being part of a similarly-aged community. This type of facility helps promote social engagement for individuals that can care for themselves.

Assisted Living Facilities – A higher level of care, assisted living facilities to give help with activities of daily living if needed, but generally, residents live a mostly independent lifestyle. Most will have private residences and provide access to personal care workers if needed.

Nursing Homes – These facilities offer around-the-clock care from licensed health professionals. These homes have the highest level of care. Meals, residences, and housekeeping are typically provided along with focused assistance with daily tasks.

Continuum of Care Facilities – These facilities offer independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing options for residents. As a result, they’re particularly suited for residents that can expect a progressive decline in function since residents will not need to be entirely relocated as their needs change.

Memory Care FacilitiesMemory care facilities are built to cater to the needs of residents with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. In addition to focused assistance, these facilities typically offer engagement programs to help promote well-being.

Definition of What a Senior Independent Living Community Is?

A senior independent living community is designed to make living as a senior citizen more enjoyable.

These closed communities will typically be made up of a variety of apartments and/or condominiums that are available for rent or purchase exclusively for older adults. Members of the community can come and go as they please. And many communities will typically hold a wide variety of social and recreational events.

Most senior independent living communities will offer some degree of healthcare services available for residents, but it is not always included.

The main benefits of a senior independent living community are more opportunities for social engagement, easier access to a range of services, and a more simplified way of living (utilities, maintenance, etc., are sometimes included in a monthly fee).

What Are The Three Main Types of Living Communities Available for Older Adults?

  • Independent Living – As the name suggests, independent living communities offer the most personal freedom of these communities. Residents here are still able to care for themselves without the help of others. That being said, these communities will typically still offer a range of services in case a resident needs them. According to Aging.com, independent living communities are actually the top choice for seniors today.
  • Assisted Living – Assisted living communities to provide a step up in terms of care compared to independent living communities. Cleaning and maintenance are usually taken care of automatically. All of an individual’s daily meals are provided for those that want them. And around-the-clock supervision ensures a higher degree of safety.
  • Skilled Nursing – Last but not least, nursing homes have the highest level of care for their residents. The skilled staff will typically help with daily tasks like dressing or bathing. And healthcare services are more widely available and more comprehensive than other options. This type of living community is also the most expensive for residents.

Where Can I Find the Best Retirement Living Community Near Me?

Now that you know how to find the right retirement living community for you, it’s time to start thinking about your options.

What qualities are you looking for in a retirement living community? What level of care do you or your loved one need? And what about the location?

If you’re looking in the St. Louis area, be sure to consider Cape Albeon’s The Harbor. At The Harbor, we take pride in offering the best senior care options in the area.

Residents can enjoy delicious daily meals, an on-site chapel for worship services, socially engaging activities, and plenty of recreational opportunities.

Plus, we always strive to make senior living simpler and safer for all of our residents. That’s why we provide bi-monthly housekeeping, regular home maintenance, a 24-hour emergency response system, and more.

Want to get a closer look at what life is like at Cape Albeon’s The Harbor? Just click below to schedule your tour today!

For the very best in retirement living communities in and around St. Louis, look to The Harbor by Cape Albeon.

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