Just as you researched colleges and career options a few years back, it is wise to do a little research about retirement communities and the options before you. Financial planners will give you lots of advice about how to invest and manage your money, but this tool is designed to help you think about what you really want out of retirement and where you want to live for the rest of your life.
As you think about the questions below and gather information, use your heart and your head, always evaluate the source of the information, and relate each opportunity to your own needs and choices, remembering that as you continue having birthdays, you will continue to change mentally, physically, and spiritually. Our thanks to Uplands Village for the use of this guide.
First things first ...
Is a retirement community the right option for me?
»Do I want or need to move from my current home?
»Do I think it would be fun & stimulating to live around peers with similar schedules and interests?
»Am I ready for a new adventure in life?
»Do I have children that I expect or want to take care of me?
»Do I have the resources for private care should I need it?
»What kind of support will I want to have or need should I not be able to care for myself?
What is the attitude of the people who work in the organization?
»Eager to help?
»Seem to enjoy their work?
»Observed interaction with residents?
»Competency & excellence in their duties?
»What are their qualifications? What kind of training do they receive?
Where does this community see itself in ten years?
»What are its goals?
»Has it achieved past goals?
»What new initiatives or building programs are underway?
»Who are they pursuing as new residents?
How can I make a difference in this community?
»Is there evidence that my skills & talents would be respected & valued?
»Can I initiate new ideas, activities, and opportunities?
After My First Visit…
What promises were made to me?
»Are they in writing? Only verbal?
Did I come away with a good feeling?
»If not, what was lacking? How important is it to my decision making?
Do I need a second visit? Should I go and spend some time there before making my decision?
»Is that option available?
»Is there available housing on site for my stay?
If I Think a Retirement Community is Right for me…
What kind of community would that be?
»Resort community with golfing, boating, recreational amenities?
»Intentional community organized around a common purpose?
»Community of people dedicated to volunteer service, simple living, & life-long learning?
»A care-giving community with graduated care levels available should I need them?
»Small community near recreational amenities?
»Do I prefer a small or large population community?
Where would I want this community to be located?
»Near my children? Will my children always live in the place they do now?
»Close enough to visit children/grandchildren by car? By plane?
»What sort of climate do I best thrive in? Dry, cold, one season, multi-seasons?
»Near water, mountains, urban sites, farm land, open spaces?
»Where can I afford to live?
»Centers of learning?
What kind of general feel in the community do I want?
»In line with my beliefs & values?
»High end or modest?
»Are these attitudes reflected in organizational policy?
What cultural opportunities are important to me?
»Arts & entertainment?
Do I want a community to be a non-profit organization or a stockholder company?
»Is affiliation with a faith group important to me?
»How does this influence policy and procedures?
»Is there a Board of Directors to govern policy?
»Are residents represented on the Board?
»Who is on the Board & what strengths do they bring?
Is it important that I have access to my chosen faith community?
»How far would I have to drive?
»What is available and what is the style of worship?
»What kind of activities, volunteer & mission opportunities are available?
What are my housing options?
»Detached single family home? Apartments? High rise? Garden? Condominium?
»Apartment or room in assisted living facility?
»What are the rules regarding housing? (If a couple becomes a single, is the single person obliged to move to a smaller unit?)
»Could I build my own home? What restrictions apply? Who owns the home?
»What is the interaction among residents living in different levels of care?
What are the general policies and procedures?
»Extended vacations or time away?
»Are these policies written or just understood?
What activities are available?
»Is there a "cruise director" who's going to try to make me exercise?
»Are there opportunities for physical, intellectual, emotional, & spiritual growth?
»What's available nearby?
»What kinds of hobbies do current residents pursue? Do people get together to pursue similar interests?
I have found a Community that seems to fit my criteria…
What kind of people already live in the community?
»How many? Is there a waiting list? If so, what are the waiting list policies?
»Diversity? Ethnic? Racial? Economic? Educational?
»Educational levels & pursuits?
»Accepting of different beliefs, lifestyles?
»What kinds of things are they involved in?
How do the people who live there feel about the community?
»Are they enthusiastic about their decision to live there?
»Do they give unsolicited support?
»Would they make the same decision again?
»What do they think the strengths & weaknesses of the community are?
»Do they feel a partnership with the community's leadership/administrators?
What is the general feel or attitude of the wider community around the retirement community?
»Tolerant of diversity?
»Progressive or traditional?
»Growing or stagnant?
What does it cost to live there?
»What are the entry fees?
»What if I choose to leave or need to move? Can I get any of my money back?
»What are the monthly fees?
»What are the historical trends in rate increases?
»What am I guaranteed?
»What do I get for my membership?
What services are provided?
»Assisted living? Long-term care? Skilled nursing?
»Business & financial services?
»What services are included in the fees & which ones require additional fees?