You might have, like many people, started planning for retirement a long time before you actually got to the finish line. There were accounts to open, financial planners to chat with, paperwork to navigate, and dreams to dream about hitting the golf course, traveling, and spoiling the grand kids. Just as you began planning retirement well in advance, you should also get a head start on the conversation with both yourself and loved ones about when you will be ready for a retirement community.
Many hear the words “retirement community” and assume they might be like the nursing homes from decades ago. It’s important, first, to recognize that retirement communities today are for all ages of retirees and many offer different levels of care tailored to your needs. Planning for when you might want to join a senior home isn’t a depressing bet on when you will fall ill or become frail, but instead a proactive process to decide when you will be ready to join a caring community of new friends, more opportunities to explore and enjoy yourself, and receive a little extra assistance as needed.
Just as you planned the first phase of your retirement and when you could stop working, go ahead and consider when in the future you might be ready for the retirement community phase. If you are already asking yourself if you’re ready for senior housing, that could be a sign you’re almost ready. Perhaps you’ve realized a big house is harder to maintain as an empty nest, and that you don’t need all the extra bedrooms. Perhaps you are wondering if you’d prefer to live in another city not that you aren’t tied there by your career. Perhaps you simply like the idea of being surrounded by peers who are in a similar place and enjoy similar pastimes, much as you might have in college.
Starting the conversation now can also make the emotional side of this decision easier. Both you and your friends and family might have feelings to take into account and navigate. It will be easier to do this slowly over time when everyone can be more objective and logical than in the emotionally heightened rush after a crisis like hospitalization. Especially if you are currently living with family, the emotions surrounding caretaking can be complicated for everyone involved. Time and open dialogue can make the transition easier.
Even if you don’t intend to move into a retirement community for some time, go ahead and talk to your family, loved ones, doctor, and financial planners now so you can strategize the best possible way to make your move when you are ready. Just as you learned with the first phase of retirement, it’s always best to plan ahead!
There’s no denying that tastes in housing have changed in the past decade. The same young professionals who bought rambling suburban homes when they started families in the 80s are contemplating retirement, and often want something totally different for their next place to live. Forbes explains that “Boomers buying for the long haul are looking for good access to transit, medical care and recreation; for high-speed Internet access and security systems; and for energy-efficient appliances.”
That’s often very different, and more urban-oriented, than their needs to be near work, in a good school district, or to have plenty of room for the family during their professional years. This is part of the reason so many retirees contemplate downsizing. It gives them some financial gains, fewer maintenance demands, and the opportunity to live somewhere in line with their new lifestyle needs.
If you are considering downsizing as part of your retirement plan, there’s a few things you can do to make it an easy process. For one, it helps to know where you will be downsizing to. Talk to your financial planners and take a look at your accounts—you might be surprised at what options net the biggest gains. Retirement communities can actually be less expensive when you look at the overall cost of your current home, including utilities, gas to commute to the things you like to do, groceries, and more. By deciding first where you will be living, you can then see how much space you will have to work with and what your actual needs will be. For example, if you’re moving to an apartment, townhome, or condo, you may not need the extra large gas grill or the leaf blower in your garage.
In fact, rooms like the garage can be a great place to begin downsizing. Attics, basements, and garages can accumulate a lot of junk over the years that you simply won’t need at your new home. Take old paint cans, oil, light bulbs, and other maintenance leftovers to hazardous materials recycling—your city website can tell you where the drop off for these items is. Then you can move on to things you rarely use—untouched clothes that no longer fit in the back of your closet, children’s games and clothes you no longer need, or extra dishes and kitchen things.
When you’re left with the things you use frequently or are deeply sentimental, you know you are well prepared to downsize! Think of how pleasant life will be when you are surrounded only with your favorite things in a home that’s perfectly suited to your new lifestyle and day to day activities! Get closer to friends, family, and all the fun outings you enjoy while shedding the stress and cost of so many belongings.
At all our Regency Retirement Centers we have been celebrating Active Aging Week this week. This has featured programming that focuses on intellectual, emotional, spiritual, occupational, and social wellness, and how older people can achieve that wellness through community involvement.
There are so many ways that Regency offers to get residents involved and helps them pursue various kinds of wellness each day. Swim classes, trivia, boxing classes, bible studies, painting classes, outing to the mall, restaurants, or horse races, and many other excursions and regular events give our seniors a myriad of ways to lead rich lives.
Active Aging is about staying, as the famous pop song by Alphaville put it, “Forever young.” Youth isn’t your medical records or your physical capabilities or even your capacity for memory, but the sense of fun and wonder and possibility we all had in our youths. Remember how eager you were to be a part of whatever was going on when you were a kid? How excited you were to be included? At Regency retirement communities it’s easy to rekindle that youthful spark.
It’s easy to give in to stereotypes about aging—that it means infirmity or being grumpy or being tired all the time. But today’s retirees are more active than ever, and see themselves as decades younger than the number of their IDs. Regency is ideal for these older people who want to maintain the best parts of their younger years, who want to be involved in their community and not miss a beat. The great thing about senior living facilities like Regencys’ are that you won’t ever have to miss out—you’ll be in the perfect place to take advantage of the fun all around you.