Here’s Part 1 of this article.
If you’ve decided to move for retirement, you might have some questions as to how to begin the process. Here are some tips:
Visit the city and the community. Just as you wouldn’t buy a house sight unseen, you shouldn’t choose a CCRC without visiting. Schedule some time to drive or fly to your destination so that you can make sure you are making the right choice.
Stay for a few weeks. While it may sound fun to move to a place like Hawaii for retirement, you might get there and decide that you don’t really like the sand and the sun as much as you thought. Since you are retired, go ahead and take an extended vacation at your chosen destination. If you’re still not sure, try taking a second trip during an off-season when the weather might not be as nice or the tourists might be gone.
Do what the locals do. Get tips from the local chamber of commerce or tourism bureau about where to eat and shop. Check out local museums and historical sites. If you’re feeling really adventurous, take a few tours of the area so that you know the local history and customs.
Stay at the community. Most people don’t realize that they can request a stay in the guest room at retirement communities. If you’re interested in moving, taking a test drive of the campus is a great idea!
If you’re not entirely happy with your current location, you might be interested in moving to a destination retirement community. “Destination” communities are located in cities that are considered tourist attractions. They’re usually in the south and offer amenities and climate that attracts residents from more northern states. Although Florida, with its sunny weather, was the original destination retirement location, there are now dozens of other regions that could be considered retirement destinations.
The benefits of moving for retirement are many. Not only do you get a new home in an exotic location, but you’ll also have the potential for many more amenities and activities, especially if you’re from a small town. You also have the opportunity to meet people of different backgrounds.
On the other hand, there is a tradeoff associated with moving across the country. First of all, you probably aren’t familiar with the local area. Being halfway across the country might mean that you’re located far away from family. And, you’ll also have to make new social connections after you move to the new community. If you’re not a social butterfly, it might be hard to get to know people.
If you’re an adventurous person, then destination retirement might be just the thing for you. Stay tuned for Part 2; I’ll be giving tips on how to find a retirement community in a new city!
You won’t find these amenities in all CCRC’s, but here are some of the things that your entrance fee buys when you choose a CCRC:
Formal and informal dining. Sometimes you want to wear a suit or a dress to dinner and have a nice meal; other times you just want to relax and grab a quick bite to eat. CCRC’s usually offer several dining options and allow you to pick the meal place that works best for your interests and activities.
Arts and crafts studio. Have you ever wanted to learn how to paint or build your own furniture? Most retirement communities offer an art studio for their residents to get involved in craft projects. I’ve even seen a few woodshops. If you’ve ever had a whim to get involved in creative arts, here is your chance!
Workout studio. I’m not just talking about a room with a few exercise bikes in it (although I’ve seen those too). Big CCRC’s have workout facilities that would make even Lance Armstrong proud. I’ve seen dance studios, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, and on-site trainers.
Pool. Virtually every CCRC that I’ve visited has a pool. Some, especially in northern climates, have indoor pools. Outdoor pools with lap areas are also common. Plus, most fitness classes are offered for free if you’re a resident!
Salon/Barber shop. It’s one thing to get your hair cut. It’s another to stay and have your nails done or get a massage!
Greenhouses and gardens. If you’ve got a green thumb, now is a good time to engage in your passion. Many CCRC’s offer their own greenhouses or outdoor gardens. Residents cooperate in care and maintenance of the garden, and visitors get to enjoy the beautiful plants!
Medical clinic. Most CCRC’s have local physicians who rotate through the in-house clinic on a regular basis. You can visit your podiatrist, your dermatologist, and your general practice physician without leaving your community!
Golf course. Some CCRC’s have special putting greens for residents. Others have agreements with nearby courses so that residents can play golf at a reduced rate. It’s a great way to get exercise, so if you’re interested in golf, there are communities out there just for you!
Chapel. If you choose a religious-affiliated CCRC, it’s almost certain that your community will have a chapel and regular services.
Theater. Although every CCRC has some sort of community room where residents can meet and watch movies or listen to speakers, some even have gone so far as to put in stadium seating and a big projection screen!
This photo courtesy of Dinner Series on Flickr.
Want to learn more about CCRC’s? Check out some of these articles:
There are a lot of funny things that you notice when you spend time in senior housing. One of them is that some senior housing communities have special dining room “parking lots” for their residents’ wheelchairs, walkers, and scooters. Why is that?
Here’s the answer: marketing. Administrators request that residents park their scooters outside of the dining area so that when potential residents come to tour the campus, they aren’t immediately turned off by the large number of wheelchairs scattered around the room.
This can be really irksome for existing residents who need their scooters to get around. These sorts of policies force residents to wait for a dining room “valet” to bring them their scooter before they can leave the dining area. For someone who has already lost their mobility, having to wait for a valet can be a double insult.
However, the benefits are really large. Although potential residents do eventually walk past the wheelchair parking lots, their initial impression is usually much more positive. Additionally, having everyone seated in a chair at the dining table makes the place look more formal and inviting. It makes it easier to sell apartments, which is what existing residents want in order to ensure that the community to financially viable.
So, if you visit a community where management requires that residents to park outside the dining area, try not to be too offended. It does help sell apartments, and it can help the community maintain its image even as the residents age.
Photo courtesy of man pikin on Flickr.
It’s tough to go into a community (especially if you have an ailing parent or spouse) and know exactly what to tell a marketing agent when they ask about your situation. If you’re worried about how much to disclose to the marketing agent, here are some topics that are good to discuss:
Your budget. The marketing agent has to know what your budget will be before he/she can sell you an apartment. While you certainly want to give them a range, try not to get bogged down in the pricing.
What amenities you want. Make a list of the things that are important to you, and see if the community offers them. This can help steer the conversation and better use your time while you’re touring the community.
Your anticipated move-in date. If you don’t plan on moving soon, make sure that you don’t give the marketing agent the impression that you will be moving. On the other hand, if you’re ready to make the transition, you can negotiate some additional discounts or amenities by being ready to put down a deposit.
There are a few topics to avoid:
Your personal life. While marketing agents do need to know at least a little bit about you so that they can find you the right unit, they don’t need to know everything. It’s tempting, especially with sympathetic sales people, to talk about personal problems. But, resist the urge. For one, the sales person is trained to spot reasons for you to move (you might be worried about illness or you might be moving because your kids are pressuring you). They’ll use these reasons to pitch the community to you. It’s also not their business. If you want to develop a friendship with the sales team, do it after you move in.
Other communities. Another thing that marketers try to do is find out reasons why you didn’t like the other communities. They can then change their presentation of the community amenities so that you see more of the things that you like and less of what you don’t. Plus, the more you complain about another community during marketing, the less bargaining power you have to get a lower price or increased amenities at the current community.
All in all, I don’t think that the process of finding a senior housing apartment should be stressful. The overwhelming majority of the industry is professional and courteous. But, sales people do get paid to fill their empty apartments, so you should be cautious about how much you divulge. Steer the conversation back onto the community if things start to get uncomfortable, and don’t be afraid to walk out if you’re feeling pressured.
This photo courtesy of Editor B on Flickr.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.
Kevin M.D. offers five questions to ask about your prescriptions.
NPR has a great new story about caring for aging loved ones. They talk about the growing trend toward multigenerational housing and how relationships develop between generations.
Should doctors have the option of turning off a patient’s implanted defibrillator or ICD device?
Why are there more women in nursing homes? Because the women tended to marry older men.
Photo courtesy of Be.Futureproof on Flickr.