Showing posts with label where to live after retirement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label where to live after retirement. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Which Senior Housing Option is Best for You?

As Baby Boomers begin to reach retirement age, one thing on their mind is where they should live as they age.  Some Boomers want to make one decision and be done.  They hope to find a single choice that will meet their needs for the rest of their lives.  Other people want to live an active, independent life first and later move to assisted living or a similar facility.

There is no option that is perfect for everyone.  Your financial situation and health will almost certainly affect your decision.  You may also be influenced by where you currently live, as well as where other members of your family live ... aging parents, adult children, grandchildren and, in some cases, your siblings.

To help readers know their range of options, below is an overview of the types of housing that are available.  Most of these choices are available in every region of the United States.  Some of these may be senior housing options that you might not have previously considered.  However, before making a final decision about where to retire, it is important that we know what choices are available. You can find links to more articles about most of these options by clicking on the tab above labeled: "Retire in the U.S."  There are dozens of helpful articles that will give you more detailed information.

Senior Housing Options

Age in Place:  One of the most popular choices is to remain exactly where you are.  The Age in Place movement has become more popular and there are now a wide variety of resources to make it easier for people to continue to live in their own homes as they get older.  Contact senior centers and home heath care facilities in your area to see what types of assistance are available.  Many communities can help with low cost meals at near-by senior centers or Meals on Wheels delivered to your home; free or low-cost transportation; exercise programs; social programs and other activities that can make it easier for you to remain in your home.  Many communities also offer a PACE program.  This is short for Program for All Inclusive Care for the Elderly and offers the equivalent of high quality nursing home care in your own home.

Over-55 Communities:  Del Webb, Lenair, Trilogy and several other builders have created over-55 communities in a wide variety of locations across the United States ... especially across the Sunbelt, although there are also options in northern states.  These communities are more than subdivisions for senior citizens.  They often pride themselves in the resort-style facilities they provide their residents ... golf courses, swimming pools, tennis courts, clubhouses, exercise facilities, theaters and more.  They are sometimes also called Active Adult Communities.  My husband and I currently live in an over-55 community near Laguna Beach, California.  It has been a very relaxing and pleasant option, since so much is done for us ... including lawn care and building maintenance.

Senior Apartments:  Many seniors choose to move into senior apartments, especially if they wish to get away from maintaining a home.  There are luxury apartments for middle class and affluent retirees, as well as subsidized apartments for moderate and low-income retirees.  In subsidized apartments, the rent is usually based on a percentage of your income (on a sliding scale).  Whether luxury or subsidized, most of these senior apartments provide special services for seniors ... social events, transportation, assistance with housekeeping, exercise facilities, swimming pools, etc.  Sometimes the services are provided by outside agencies in the communities ... such as transportation to medical visits.

Accessory Dwelling Units or Granny Pods:  Another option some Baby Boomers are choosing is to move in with their children.  Instead of boomerang kids, many Baby Boomers are becoming boomerang parents.  There are several valid reasons for this choice:  you may be in poor health and need assistance with meals or dressing; your children may want you there to provide care for your grandchildren; it could be the best choice financially for either you or your children.  One way to facilitate this when the parents have their own, separate living space. An accessory dwelling unit is the term used to describe a second living space in the home or on the property that will allow you some privacy while living with your children.  This second living space can be an addition to the home, a remodeled basement or a separate apartment.  Granny Pods, another possibility, are pre-fab senior homes that are set up on the property.

Board and Care Homes:  These are group homes for people who don't need a nursing home, but cannot live independently, either.  Many people like them because of their comfortable, homey atmosphere.  Residents usually have a private room and bathroom, but share meals and common areas. I have known a variety of people who have chosen this option ... for reasons such as severe arthritis or mild mental impairment which make independent living difficult.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs):  One new wave in senior housing is the CCRC.  These are communities which you usually buy into by paying a large upfront fee, as well as a monthly fee.  When you first move into the community, you live independently in your own home or apartment.  The community guarantees that they will then take care of your needs for the rest of your life, whether that means you need some assistance in your own home or you need to move into an assisted living facility, a skilled nursing facility or a memory care home ... facilities which are usually located within the community.  This is an especially popular option for couples who believe that one of them might have to move into a nursing facility, but not the other.  In this way, they can still be close to each other.  CCRCs have also become a popular option for healthy people who know they will not qualify for affordable long-term care insurance.  Once they move into a CCRC, residents do not have to worry about their future care, regardless of what health problems they or their spouse may develop.

Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Memory Care Facilities:  Many people who start out living in their own home or senior apartment will eventually need more care than they can easily receive in their personal residence.  Those people may eventually move into one of the other types of senior housing mentioned above, or they may move directly into the type of assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care facility that is appropriate for their needs.  These are usually paid for in one of three ways:  Medicaid, long-term care insurance, or out-of-pocket payments made by the senior citizen or their family members.  Of those, Medicaid (called MediCal in California) is the most common provider of funds for these programs, although there are financial asset and income restrictions on who can qualify for Medicaid.  These facilities can be expensive ... ranging from $6,000 to $12,000 a month, depending on the region of the country and the amount of care the resident needs.  That is why long-term care insurance is a good investment, especially if you believe there is even a possibility that you or your spouse could someday need to move into one of these facilities.

If you are interested in learning more about where to retire, common medical issues, long-term care, financial planning, Social Security, Medicare or more, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of helpful articles.

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Photo credit:  Photo of clubhouse at the Laguna Woods Village over-55 community was taken by author, Deborah Dian; all rights reserved.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Advantages and Disadvantages of Over 55 Retirement Communities

My husband and I moved to Laguna Woods Village, a popular over 55 retirement community in California, eight years ago and never regretted the decision.  We enjoy the lifestyle, the activities, and the other people we have met since we moved here.  We feel safe, and expect to live in this community, or a similar one, until we are ready for the nursing home!

However, not all of our friends have made the same decision.  In fact, when I mention to them how much we enjoy living in our community, they are often adamant that they would never consider moving to a retirement community.  On several occasions I have asked them to tell me why they feel so strongly about not moving into an age restricted community, since there are several of them in the area.  You will see their reasons further on in this article.

If you are trying to decide whether an over-55 retirement community for active adults would be the right lifestyle for you, here are some of the reasons people decide that they either want to live in one, or do not want to live in one.

The Advantages of Retirement Communities

Access to a wide variety of affordable activities is the number one advantage mentioned by people who like to live in retirement communities.  Depending on where you live, you may have easy access to golf, tennis, swimming, art studios, woodworking shops, garden plots, live theater, clubs and social activities.

Security is the second most common reason many people give for wanting to live in an age-restricted community.  The majority of retirement communities are gated and many also have private security that is a visible presence in the neighborhood.  In addition, with so many residents home during the day, someone is almost certain to be aware if thieves try to break into a home.

Other reasons given for living in a retirement community include:

They are usually near medical facilities;
Most residents are quiet, without loud teens or social events in the neighborhood;
There are opportunities to meet other people in your age group;
The housing is typically designed to provide easy access for the elderly and handicapped.

The Disadvantages of Retirement Communities

The number one reason people have given me for not wanting to live in a retirement community is that they are happy living in their current home or neighborhood where they have lived for a number of years.  If you have close ties to your neighbors and your community, you may see no reason to move to a new community where you would have to form new relationships.

Another reason people have mentioned is the fact that they have adult children or grandchildren who are living with them, and they know these family members would not be welcome in an age-restricted retirement community.  

Even when they do not have young people living with them, some people like living in a community where there are mixed ages.  They enjoy seeing children in their neighborhood, as well as young couples who are just starting out.

Another group of people, especially those in their 50's and early 60's, have expressed the opinion that they believe the residents of retirement communities are "old" and they do not want to live with all those old people.  Often these people view themselves as too young to live with other people in their 60's, 70's or older.

A final reason I have heard is that the Homeowners Association fees in many retirement communities are a little high.  All that easy access to golf, luxurious clubhouses and "free" amenities does not come cheap.  If people do not play golf, or they do not think they will use the other services, they sometimes feel that paying a large association fee is not worth it.

Where Should You Live After Retirement?

There is no answer that is right for everyone.  Whatever you decide is perfectly valid.  If you are happy where you currently live, or if you live in a household with an extended family, you may not want to move to a retirement community.  

On the other hand, if you want to try some new experiences and live somewhere with enhanced security, then an over-55 community may be the right choice for you.

Look over the reasons that others have used to make their decision, and you will know which choice is right for you.

If you are looking for more ideas about where to retire, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

If  you do decide you want to live in a retirement community, here are a few articles that may interest you:

Over 55 Retirement Communities by Del Webb
Over 55 Retirement Communities by Four Seasons
Sun City Texas is a Premier Retirement Destination
Tellico Village Retirement Community
Laguna Woods Village Active Adult Community

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Phone of clubhouse in Laguna Woods Village taken by author.