Choosing a place to live out your retirement is a huge decision! Our senior years are an exciting phase of our lives filled with more free time to spend on hobbies, interests, and quality time with loved ones. At the same time, they require increased considerations about our lifestyle, health, physical abilities, and future care needs.
With so many factors and potential changes to consider, it can be challenging to figure out how to find senior housing that fits all of your needs. Fortunately, there are many different types of senior housing available today to retirees and older seniors, and most are designed to accommodate the changes we experience as we age.
In this guide, we’ll go over what you should think about when beginning your senior housing selection process, the types of housing you can choose from, and other tips and considerations to keep in mind.
Let’s dive in!
- Considering your individual needs and preferences as a first step in the process helps to narrow your initial search down to options best suited for you.
- There are many types of senior housing options to choose from with varying levels of independent living and/or support care available.
- Level of care provided is often the biggest determiner of price point, but other factors like type of home, location, and planned length of residence also play a role.
- Involving your loved ones in the decision-making process can provide valuable support and help you make a more complete plan.
Think about your needs first
What do you need from your new senior housing? This is the first question you should ask when you begin your search for a new place to live. Older adults have many different reasons for moving after retirement or later in their senior years.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the above reasons and more.
- Lowering cost of living – Senior housing can significantly reduce your cost of living by lowering your mortgage or rent payment, eliminating home repair costs, and consolidating other costs like utilities.
- Downsizing – Many seniors live in homes where they raised families. Once their children grow up and move out on their own, there’s no need for a large home and the upkeep it requires.
- Moving closer to family members – Seniors may want to live closer to family to have closer access to care when they need it or simply be able to spend time with children and grandchildren more often.
- Changing physical needs – As we get older, our physical needs and abilities change. Standard home features like stairs and bathtubs become more difficult to navigate. Senior housing options keep these changing needs into account.
- Seeking a senior social community – Senior housing often offers a community and amenities that come along with it. Retirees have more free time, and it’s nice to spend it with people who have similar interests and are at the same life stage.
- Better conveniences – Conveniences that may not have seemed critical in younger age, such as having someone to mow the lawn or remove snow, become needed as we get older.
- Require assisted living support – Senior housing offers varying levels of assisted care, allowing seniors to choose an option that offers independence as well as necessary health and support care.
- Access to activities – Senior housing and communities host social, wellness, and entertainment activities that keep life exciting and fun.
- Looking for a fresh start – Retirement and our senior years are a new phase of life; sometimes people move during this time just to gain a fresh start.
Consider these and any other individual needs or preferences you have for your new living situation. There are lots of different options out there for senior living. Knowing what you’re looking for can help you narrow them down and make a more confident decision.
Consider different types of senior housing options
Now that you’ve explored your specific needs and preferences, it’s time to think about the type(s) of senior housing you want to consider. One thing to keep in mind is that searching for senior housing should include a future-thinking perspective. The reality is that as we age, our level of required assistance increases. While many of us will be able to live independently well into old age, it’s responsible to plan for scenarios where that may not be the case.
The senior living spectrum is a widely used bubble graph that looks at different types of senior housing from the perspective of care required and provided.
Depending on your current age, planned length of stay at your next home, current health status, and level of support from other sources (like family), your best option may vary. Fortunately, many senior housing providers offer multiple options and levels of care in one community. For example, you can start in an apartment living independently, then move to more assisted living when you need to.
For full clarity, let’s define these different types of senior housing:
Aging in place – When a senior stays in their own home rather than moving to a retirement community or assisted living facility. Seniors often move to homes with features like one-story homes with no stairs, homes with wider hallways and more accessible bathrooms, etc. that lend to better aging in place.
55+ retirement communities – Communities, often with multiple independent housing options like homes, condos, and apartments, where residency is restricted to age 55 or older.
Assisted living facilities – Offer support with daily activities like cooking, cleaning, and bathing that many seniors may require assistance with, but do not offer high levels of medical care.
Continuing care facilities – Offer varying levels of assisted care for seniors who want to live as independently as possible but have access to increased levels of care as needed.
Nursing homes – Senior living facilities with full-service, 24/7 care, including medical care.
Know your price point
This is a more practical but equally important part of choosing the right senior housing. Senior housing will generally be more expensive as the level of care increases, but there are other factors that play a role, like the type of home you choose (i.e. house, condo, apartment, suite) and the overall housing market where you live.
Be sure to take into account other fees that you’ll pay, like HOA fees, food, cleaning services, and more. Many senior housing communities offer inclusive packages while others provide basic options with a la carte add-ons for individuals.
When you think about the price point, remember again to maintain a future-thinking perspective. Most seniors are on a fixed income, and that income will need to last for all of your remaining years. It’s a good idea to look for options where you will be happy and comfortable, but that fit a somewhat conservative budget (especially for younger, new retirees).
Be thorough in your research
Never cut corners when you’re choosing a senior housing option. Be thorough in your research by collecting as much information as possible, asking questions, and seeing potential homes and facilities firsthand.
Here are some good ways to do it:
- Browse company websites – This is a great place to read information, check out photos, and get a sense of what the community or facility is like at the start of your search.
- Look at reviews – Many companies will include testimonials from current residents, and it’s easy to find reviews on Google and social media pages. Looking at reviews is a good indicator of how satisfied current residents are in a community you’re considering.
- Talk to someone on the phone – Online communication is easy these days, but it’s a good idea to set up a phone call with someone to ask questions and get a more thorough sense of your potential home options.
- Take a tour – Just like any new home purchase, you don’t want to commit until you see it for yourself. Take a full, in-person tour and bring someone with you for a second opinion.
- Talk to current residents – There’s no better way to get to know a community than to talk to the people who live there. If it’s an option, ask to be connected to current residents so you can get to know them and their experience.
Involve your loved ones in the process
This one can be tricky! Ultimately, your senior housing plan is your decision. You should not be unduly influenced by others.
But we do recommend including your loved ones in the process at whatever level you are comfortable with including them. Loved ones can help you talk through options, accompany you on tours, and provide support during this important decision-making process.
Often, our loved ones are part of our care plan for when we get older and including them in the process of selecting your senior housing can help you create a more seamless and complete plan for the future.
Looking for senior housing options in Dayton?
Oberer Homes offers many styles of housing that fit changing life needs in communities that come with amenities, conveniences, and services older adults will appreciate. Ready to learn more? Contact us today!
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