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Consumer's Guide to Retirement Living

Anyone who is contemplating a move to a retirement community will discover a wide variety of lifestyle choices available. Senior living communities, 55-plus communities, independent living communities and continuing care retirement communities all focus on providing an active and engaging lifestyle for older adults. To help consumers sort through the maze of senior living options, Acts Retirement-Life Communities offers a free resource called A Consumer’s Guide to Retirement Living that includes the following tips for individuals researching a retirement community for themselves or a loved one.

Check the community’s background: Find out who owns and manages the community as well as the track record of management. Does the community operate as a not-for-profit or for-profit? Is it accredited for meeting high standards in services, operations and financial stability?

Consider future health needs: Many senior living communities offer an attractive lifestyle but do not provide higher levels of care, making another move a possibility down the line. Be sure to find out if health care is available and what levels of care are provided at any community you are considering and how much it will cost for any care received.

Get detailed information about fees: Find out what all fees do and do not include. Ask if monthly fees are subject to increase and under what conditions, and the average fee increase percentage over the past five years.

Meet with residents and tour the community: Speak with several residents to see how they like living at the community. Stay for lunch or dinner so you can sample the food and the service. Notice if the community is clean, well maintained, and secure. Is there adequate parking?

Use a services and amenities checklist: Get a complete information packet that includes application for admission, fee schedules, floor plans and the resident contract. Compare each community’s pricing to amenities, programs and services offered. Consider closely the costs of homeownership with that of a retirement community.

Ask about recreational and social activities: Find out what kind of social, cultural and educational activities are available. Is there an activities director on staff to plan entertainment, events, and trips? Is transportation available? Is there an on site fitness center and programs for wellness?

Consider location and find out if there is a waiting list: Is the community near family, friends, doctor’s office, place of worship, and shopping? Find out if there is a waiting list and how it works.

Ask about the best value: Many communities may try to upsell you on the largest living space with the most add-ons. But ask yourself: will you really need all that extra space (and extra cost)? As an alternative, ask the community what the best value living option is. Chances are it’ll be a one bedroom apartment. These are particularly beneficial for continuing care retirement communities, as you receive all the same special services — fine dining, pools and other amenities, included healthcare — for a lower cost.  

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Retirement Resources

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