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Retirement Homes: What You Should Prioritize First

By Due. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Retirement Homes

In the United States, retirement is becoming less and less of a certainty. In fact, the 2021 Natixis Global Retirement Index reports that 40% of investors say “it will take a miracle” to retire securely.


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Regardless, there will come a time when we all ride off into the sunset and leave our working days behind us. Specifically, at least according to Statistic Brain, those who are ready to retire share the following profile traits;

  • Average retirement age of 63 years old
  • Retired for an average of 18 years
  • At retirement, the average person has $42,797 in life savings
  • The average percentage of people who are financially prepared for retirement is 4%.
  • 63% of people rely on more than just savings (social security, family members, or charities) to fund retirement.

If you can’t see, this paints a troubling picture when it comes to retirement. And, in particular, where exactly you’ll be spending your post-work life — which will most likely be in a retirement home.

To help you make an informed decision, here’s a rundown on what you should prioritize first when it comes to retirement homes. When you do, you can plan accordingly and enjoy a long and fulfilling life.

What is a Retirement Home?

Basically, a retirement home is a facility designed to accommodate seniors. In addition to maintaining their lifestyles, residents can also receive support and care on-site. In most cases, these are privately owned.

Keep in mind that retirement homes, which are also known as assisted living facilities, are not the same thing as nursing homes. The focus of these institutions shifts from enabling independence to fostering healing, as they provide prolonged medical care.

With that clarification out of the way, here’s how you can prioritize your wants and needs when it comes to retirement homes.

Focus on Your Specific Needs

First things first, you may opt to stay in your current home. In fact, an AARP survey found “that 77 percent of adults 50 and older want to remain in their homes for the long term.” To be fair, though, the AARP reports that this number “has been consistent for more than a decade.”

In addition, caregivers were asked to describe their own and their loved one’s home and community needs.

“It’s really important that we understand what people’s housing preferences are, what they want, what they need, and how well their options are meeting their needs,” says Rodney Harrell, vice president of family, home, and community at AARP. “It’s foundational to our work to improve housing options and communities.”

Nonetheless, if you decide to stay put or are the 29% who plan to relocate to a different community, you first must assess your needs. That means taking stock of your present home or potential retirement home that addresses the following concerns;

  • Current (and future) mobility and accessibility needs.
  • Health/cognitive concerns or challenges
  • Proximity to friends and family
  • Opportunities to interact with others
  • Inability to perform daily activities independently
  • Maintaining your yard or house can be a hassle
  • Problems with home safety
  • Questions about medication management
  • Concerns regarding nutrition and/or preparing meals on one’s own
  • Challenges and concerns related to transportation and driving
  • Having an interest in learning something new or finding a new hobby
  • Amenities, such as gyms, trails, restaurants, entertainment, and airports.

Overall, you can more easily prioritize what you need in senior living by assessing your current living situation.

Find The Right Type of Retirement Home

What if your current home doesn’t meet your needs, but a retirement home does? Your next step is to fund the right type of retirement home for you. After all, there are different types of senior living options that cater to specific needs.

Thankfully, since you’ve already identified your wants, you can narrow down your search to the following community types;

  • Independent living. These are ideal for seniors who don’t require daily assistance but are looking for ways to stay active. Examples include social, fitness, and enrichment opportunities that aren’t available to them at home. They can also escape the hassles of daily housekeeping and chores. And, also, there are on-site amenities such as dining, a fitness center, pool, and even concierge services.
  • Assisted living. As above, assisted living offers a similar lifestyle with many of the same conveniences and amenities. At the same time, it also offers personalized care and support for daily tasks like bathing, dressing, and managing medications. It’s an environment designed to promote independence while enabling residents to live meaningful, active lives.
  • Memory care. Those with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia should consider this type of senior living. Besides providing onsite support 24/7 and therapy, activities, and social opportunities that fit each resident’s cognitive abilities, our team members are specially trained in memory care. Residents will find everything they need within a secure, calming, and comfortable setting.

What if you’re struggling to make ends meet? Well, you’re not alone. Research conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) shows that one-third of the elderly have difficulty finding housing.

As such, retirees in search of retirement facilities should not be denied services such as subsidized senior housing. Programs such as these allow low-income households to live in government-approved apartments, townhomes, and other housing.

Don’t Overlook Future Care

Not only are people are living longer, but health care costs will also increase as we age. In fact, 70% of elderly people may require long-term care at some point. As a consequence, it makes sense that high-quality health care is a top priority among adults.

According to the 2017 Aging in Cities Survey, commissioned by Welltower, access to health care is the top priority for seniors when deciding where they want to live at 80 and older. Moreover, access to health care beat out the other categories by 20 percentage points. However, 37% of respondents worry they will not be able to receive adequate healthcare. And, approximately 66% of respondents say their cities need more options for dementia care.

As it relates to senior living communities, the survey did not cover health care priorities. But, it stands to reason that this is why seniors prefer to live in a retirement home or senior living community. Not only will have priority access if they need it, but they’ll also know what to expect in terms of cost and how to find it.

With that in mind, ask the following questions when doing your homework on retirement homes;

  • When you’re 80 or older, how confident are you that you’ll have access to high-quality health care?
  • What are your long-term care options?
  • What is the cost of long-term care?

Make Sure You Can Afford Senior Living

“Depending on your location, living in an independent living community can cost from $1,500 to $4,000 a month,” notes AssistedLiving.org. Moreover, “seniors residing in assisted living facilities have a monthly average cost ranging from $3,500 to $10,500 a month.”

Despite the fact that senior living costs vary between states and regions, monthly basic expenses have been rising across the board for seniors. Rent, food, medication, and transportation are just some of the costs seniors will have to pay. Additionally, seniors must pay for typical utilities, such as gas and electricity. And, if they’re relocating, there will be extra costs like hiring a moving company.

And, that’s also not factoring in the roughly $285,000 to cover expected medical expenses during their retirement. To make matters worse? The services provided by many agencies to seniors have been cut. As a result, seniors must find alternative services or absorb costs on their own. However, adjusting monthly budgets and trimming non-essential expenditures are common ways to accomplish this.

FAQs About Retirement Homes

1. What is the difference between a retirement home and a nursing home?

Retirement homes aim to provide older adults with independence, recreational activities, socialization opportunities, and reliable medical care. A nursing home, in contrast, is for seniors who are ill and need constant care.

2. What should you prioritize when researching retirement homes?

Depending on the couple, it may vary, but comfort and happiness are of primary importance. It’s also important to consider your specific needs, such as access to healthcare, opportunities to socialize, and the maintenance of your home. Other considerations include your ability to perform daily activities, amenities, and, last but not least, your budget.

3. When should you buy a retirement home?

Again, this depends on your situation and retirement goals. But, if you’re able to cover this expense, you could consider purchasing a retirement home sooner than later. You should especially consider this if you plan to borrow funds to pay for your purchase.

An early purchase of a retirement home brings numerous benefits compared to waiting until after retirement. First of all, applicants are more likely to obtain approval for a mortgage while still working full-time. If you take out a loan now, you can lock in a low-interest rate and start paying off your loan sooner. And, this gives you the chance to save for future renovations.

4. Where are the most affordable places to buy a retirement home?

America’s best frugal and friendly retirement destinations, according to MoneyWise include;

  • Scottsdale, Arizona
  • Cape Coral, Florida
  • The Woodlands, Texas
  • Torrance, California
  • Augusta, Georgia
  • Metairie, Louisiana
  • Mesa, Arizona
  • Lakeland, Florida
  • Overland Park, Kansas
  • Mobile, Alabama

Article by Deanna Ritchie, Due

Deanna Ritchie is a financial editor at Due. She has a degree in English Literature. She has written 1000+ articles on getting out of debt and mastering your finances. She has edited over 40,000 articles in her life. She has a passion for helping writers inspire others through their words. Deanna has also been an editor at Entrepreneur Magazine and ReadWrite.

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