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How to Choose a Retirement Community

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A group of older adults chatting over a meal at a table in a retirement community.

Moving into a retirement community is an essential milestone in one’s later years, often decided by a blend of health factors, lifestyle preferences, and the pursuit of a well-rounded, fulfilling existence. 

But, when considering your next adventure, how do you choose the community that best fits your unique life? In this definitive guide, we’ll tell you what to look for when selecting the ideal retirement community, namely the type of community that will suit you best, the costs involved, and the amenities offered. 

We’ll also go over what to keep an eye out for when touring a potential community, and when it’s time to consider the transition. First, let’s get to know your options.

Understanding the Spectrum of Retirement Communities

Before you begin your search, it’s crucial to understand the differences in the senior living landscape. Retirement communities have various options designed to cater to the broad spectrum of senior needs and lifestyles. Typically, there are two types: 

  • Independent Living Communities: Ideal for active seniors seeking to downsize, these communities offer maintenance-free living and social activities with a built-in community.
  • Assisted Living Facilities: Tailored to seniors needing assistance with day-to-day maintenance, these communities provide a supportive environment while preserving independence.

Those who require a higher level of care due to cognitive decline may also need to consider memory care. While it can be challenging to prepare for a transition into a memory care community, if the need arises, doing the research now will ensure you or your loved one’s needs are met.

By clarifying the type of community best suited to your needs, you can narrow your focus and ensure that the communities you visit align with your present and potential future requirements. The Landmark of Fridley is unique in that we can provide all three of these options to our residents should their needs change after move-in.

Navigating Cost

Cost is often the leading consideration when choosing a retirement community. Price structures can be complex and variable, making assessing the full spectrum of expenses essential. When considering a retirement community, you should consider these types of standard fees:

  • Entry Fees: These one-time payments can be significant but often include a continuum of care services.
  • Monthly Rent or Services Fee: Covers living expenses, meals, utilities, and various amenities. 
  • Additional Care Services: Additional care includes medication management, specialized therapies, and medical transport.

When Is the Right Time for a Retirement Community?

Determining the ideal time to transition into a retirement community is as individual as the residents who live there. Common circumstances often arise that motivate the transition:

  • Proactive Choice: For the discerning older adult, choosing to move into a community before health issues necessitate it allows for a seamless and controlled transition.
  • Emergent Necessity: Many residents enter a retirement community after a health incident calls for a higher level of care. 
  • Personal and Family Considerations: Spousal health dynamics, feelings of isolation, and individual lifestyle goals all influence the optimal timing for joining a community. 

There is no universal “right time” to move into a retirement community. The decision often involves a blend of practicalities and emotional considerations. 

Crafting the Ideal Lifestyle in Your Later Years

Let’s be honest—amenities and experiences are why people choose retirement communities. By identifying the experiences that resonate with your interests, you can better determine which community offers the most fitting lifestyle. 

  • Social Calendar: From book clubs to pickleball, communities offer a range of activities to engage residents and foster a sense of social belonging.
  • Fine Dining: Nutritious and delicious meal plans are a hallmark of quality communities, often serving as a center for social interaction.
  • Cultural Offerings: On-site libraries, theatres, and art studios can enrich the mind and soul, providing a rich cultural life. 
  • Fitness and Wellness Programs: From robust gyms to tailored wellness programs, you can prioritize health and vitality with activities to keep you active and engaged.

By envisioning your ideal day, week, or month in a retirement community, you can seek the places most aligned with your personal goals for contentment and growth.

The Visitation & Assessment Process

Once you’ve whittled down potential contenders, it’s time to visit and assess the shortlisted retirement communities. This stage is crucial for feeling the community’s atmosphere and examining the practicalities of daily life.

  • Book Your Visits Wisely: Schedule your visits during active times, like mealtimes or scheduled activities, to witness the community in full swing and gauge its daily rhythms.
  • Ask the Residents: They are your most straightforward source of information. Inquire about their experiences and how well the community aligns with its stated mission and services.
  • Meet the Staff: Interactions with employees can provide insight into the culture and responsiveness of the community. Look for engaged, compassionate team members.
  • Experience the Food and Facilities: Sample a meal, take a tour that ventures off the beaten path, and observe the upkeep of facilities. 
  • Assess Safety and Security: Look for secure access points, response systems, and staff training in emergency protocols. Your sense of safety should be paramount to any retirement community.

These visits are the crucial final examination, so take your time and get answers to all of your questions. 

A group of older adults at a senior living community sit around a table laughing and playing cards together

The Final Decision

After exploration and evaluation, it’s time to make the final choice. Which amenities seemed the most interesting? What facilities valued your safety? How did each community make you feel? When making your decision, be sure to: 

  • Consult with Loved Ones: While the ultimate decision is yours, consultations with family and friends can offer perspectives you may not have considered.
  • Review and Compare: Organize your notes and compare each community against your list of non-negotiables and wants. A side-by-side review can often bring clarity to your choice.
  • Trust Your Instincts: You should feel good about your chosen community. Trust your instincts; you’ll likely find that one community evokes a stronger sense of belonging and peace than the others.

Enjoy a Supportive, Safe & Serene Community

The choice of a retirement community is significant because it marks an intention to live life on your terms, with support and a community that reflects your values. 

At The Landmark of Fridley, we hope this guide enriches your decision-making process and leads to a choice that will define the vibrancy of your golden years. Remember, the right community isn’t just a location, it’s a commitment to the life you desire to live. 

We want to meet you! Schedule a tour of our community and see how uplifting your retirement could be. 

Written by Lifespark

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