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When Downsizing is Not Enough

Many reasons for moving to a retirement residence

Lisa M. Petsche | Oct 1, 2012, 9:50 p.m.

As people age, there's a good chance that at some point their home will no longer suit their lifestyle or their needs. In some cases, a retirement community may be the best choice.

Retirement residences are wellness-oriented facilities that enable active seniors to maintain or improve their independence, health and overall quality of life.

Common reasons for choosing to move into a retirement community include:

Freedom to reduce responsibilities associated with home ownership - particularly property maintenance and keeping track of a multitude of bills - to allow more time for preferred activities.

Independence to offload as many responsibilities of daily living as possible, in order to live independently in spite of decreased physical abilities. People in this situation may wish to eliminate not only property maintenance tasks but also housecleaning, laundering, grocery shopping and meal preparation.

Accessibility of the living space makes it easier and safer to enter and exit, access all areas and use rooms for their intended purpose.

Finances - Reducing the expense of home ownership, particularly older homes that are not energy efficient or require extensive repairs. Another reason for moving is that the cost of home adaptations to improve safety and accessibility is beyond their means or is not a wise investment from a real estate market perspective.

Peace of mind to ensure help is available if needed. This can provide them, as well as their family, with reassurance.

Socialization opportunities to make new friends are everywhere, from the dining room and lounge areas to activity rooms and outdoor spaces.

Recreation – Retirement communities make it easy to participate in a wealth of activities.

Security – Many experience increased peace of mind living in a residence with a security desk and locked mailboxes.

Transportation is often available to frequently accessed amenities – some offer a shuttle service to medical appointments, shopping and community events.

Health – To ensure ongoing healthcare needs are met, beginning with the basics: nutritiously balanced meals and opportunities to stay physically active and mentally stimulated. Other needs may include medication management, a special diet and assistance with personal care. Many retirement communities offer assisted living packages for residents who need help with the latter.

Lifestyle - Seniors who have the financial means and wish to enjoy life to the fullest may seek a setting that simulates a resort atmosphere. Amenities may include elegant spaces, fine dining, a cocktail lounge or pub, fitness center, swimming pool, library, beauty salon, spa, café, Internet lounge, convenience store, greenhouse, putting green and more.

Retirement communities vary considerably in terms of price, size, amenities and services, which can make it difficult to choose from among them. If you are in the market for one, carefully consider your financial situation and preferred lifestyle to determine which places to focus on.

It’s important to go beyond location and curb appeal. Take personal tours. Plan to visit several places, take a notebook and bring along a friend for a second opinion.

Lisa M. Petsche is a social worker and a freelance writer specializing in boomer and senior issues.

This article appeared in the October 2012 issue of Northwest Prime Time, the Puget Sound region’s monthly publication celebrating life after 50.

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