Advances in health care and higher standards of living mean that senior citizens can look forward to more vital and productive years of retirement. Higher life expectancy also means that more and more seniors are facing the task of how to fund living in an active retirement community that will nurture their new senior citizen lifestyle. Using a step by step, organized approach can help seniors to find active retirement communities that will meet their needs.
- What's financially realistic? Perhaps the most sensible place to begin to find active retirement communities is to determine what you can reasonably afford. There is little point to reviewing properties that have everything you want but are clearly out of the realm of financial possibility.
Your estimate should include enough financial wiggle room to allow for those activities and expenditures that are really central to who you are. Determine which of your current expenses are non-negotiable and which expenses you are willing to cut. Then, if you find an active retirement community that you really like, you'll be able to make an educated decision based on your budget.
Determining and accepting your personal financial reality will give you a realistic backdrop against which you can conduct your search.
- Determine your geographic radius. Besides limiting your search according to your personal finances, you can further narrow your search by geography. There is little reason to exhaust yourself or set yourself up for disappointment by looking at active retirement communities that are inaccessible for your relatives or that are too far from facilities that you still wish to visit like your doctor, shopping mall, movies and other venues that are important parts of your daily life. You may have to sacrifice some accessibility to find the active retirement community you want, but you should know before looking which geographic connections positively need to be kept in place.
- Make two lists. Before you step into a single active retirement community, make two lists. The fist should be a list of things you would really hope to find in your active retirement community. This list should be personal to you and what you're looking for. Consider what you need for your well being and happiness.
For example, you want an active community, but what kinds of activities do you really want? Would no bingo, shopping trips or escapes to the movies be deal breakers for you? Do you entertain people in a formal manner or do you prefer an old fashioned card party? And what about when you are done being active for the day, what things are important in your personal space?
The second list should be a list of things that you would find difficult to put up with, like a room near the elevator, living space that is located on the fourth floor, or a view of the trash bin.
Knowing your price range, your desired location, the amenities you really need and your own personal irritants you are finally ready to begin a more specific search.
- Check your sources. It's important not to waste your time and energy running off to follow each lead as it appears. So when you get ready to really start looking, contact a variety of sources to get specific ideas and jot down suggestions that seem to fit into your personal price, location and taste guidelines.
Everyone has different sources but certainly a reliable place to begin would be to talk with your personal network of friends and relatives. You trust them and they know you well enough to screen their own suggestions with you in mind. Check with your local senior services center among staff and center participants. Home health aids, housekeepers and visiting nurses can also be useful contributors to your search. Don't leave out your senior friends at your church or civic organization.
Then expand your search to printed media: newspapers, flyers, online websites.
- Narrow your choices. Once you feel you have thoroughly surveyed the prospects by using the sources at hand it's time to narrow down your total number. Review your list of prospects against your own guidelines and remove any that don't fit. When in doubt call the retirement community and get solid information. Don't throw any of your prospect lists away, but narrow your field to a half dozen possibilities. Remember these are the retirement communities that best fit your budget, your geographic limits and your tastes.
- Visit the retirement communities. Once you have your Visit of active retirement communities in hand, you have come to the crucial part of the hunt - the on site visit. To make the best use of your time, arrange for a tour or appointment with a building staff member who can give you a meaningful tour and show you a model unit. It makes sense to bring a family member or friend with you. Their observations, questions and suggestions will give you another perspective. Try not to make too many visits on the same day and write down your impressions after each visit otherwise you will be surprised by how quickly the visits all seem to blend into one.
- Make your final choice. Finding and selecting an active retirement community is a huge step. It's one that you probably shouldn't make without a few serious conversations with friends or family members. Their ideas are important and may help you to see an aspect of a particular retirement community from an entirely new point of view.
But if you are an active senior looking for an active retirement community, make sure the final decision really meets your situation. Don't be unduly influenced by people who in fact are not going to be living with you. For your choice to be the right, you have to be comfortable making it for yourself.