Choosing the perfect senior living community is a big decision. First of all … where to begin? From finding the right location to picking the best care services to asking a bunch of questions that you may not even know to ask, it’s a lot like buying your first home. There’s a lot to think about and it can be overwhelming. However, it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable feat, says Deborah Strickland, Director of Sales at The Village at Gainesville, a senior living rental community that offers independent living, assisted living and memory support.
“Choosing the perfect senior living lifestyle is very important, but it also can be an enjoyable and illuminating process,” she says. “You’re looking for a place where you’ll live out the next great chapter of your life, and that’s a very exciting thing. Just like when you selected a college, or bought a home or any other major life decision, it all starts with knowing what to look for. It’s important to thoughtfully do your research so you can make an informed decision.”
Whether you already have a clear picture in mind of the lifestyle you want or you’re just beginning your process, here are ten things to think about that will help you narrow down your options and choose the perfect senior living lifestyle for yourself.
1. What location is right? The old real estate adage holds true for senior living communities, too. The very first factor to consider is where in the country (or world) you want to live. Do you want to stay in your current community, close to everything you know and are familiar with? Would you like to move to be closer to family members? Or would you like to move to an area you’ve always loved, where the weather is perfect year round? There’s no right or wrong answer – it all depends on your personal preference.
2. What do you want to do in retirement? This is a big question that may have many different answers associated with it. What sort of lifestyle would you like to pursue in retirement? Maybe you are looking forward to traveling the world. Perhaps you’d like to start a new career or spend your time volunteering your skills. Maybe you’d like to learn a new hobby, or perhaps you simply want to rest and relax for a while. The best senior living communities will provide you with options and opportunities to pursue your dreams – as well as the time and support you need to make them come true.
3. What sort of atmosphere do you want? Some people like living in an urban center. Others like living in a rural community. Others may like suburbs, while still more may prefer a newly gentrified area. Each of these types of areas can also have different atmospheres – some may be smaller and more tight-knit, while others might be larger and a little more “independent” in the sense of letting everyone go their own way. Think about what type of atmosphere makes you the most comfortable and where you’d be the happiest.
4. What type of community do you want? Senior living communities come in all shapes, sizes and types. Some communities are independent living communities only, while others offer more comprehensive levels of care. While it’s important to plan for the future and your potential future care needs, you also want to make sure that wherever you move meets your lifestyle expectations now.
5. What is the cost? And what is the cost structure? Although we may not like it very much, financials play a huge role in quality of life – now and in the future. Every community has a different way of approaching fees, whether it’s an all-inclusive monthly fee, a cost-per-fee schedule, a large “down payment” for joining the community and so on.
6. How close are you to health care/travel/etc.? As we get older, it’s more and more likely that we will need access to health care – hospitals, specialists and others. You may also need access to higher levels of service, like assisted living or memory care. As you’re looking at the community itself, be sure to look around at the greater community to see what access and partnerships are available to keep you as healthy and well as possible.
7. How close are you to entertainment? “Entertainment” can mean art galleries, theatres and other cultural events. At the same time – what sort of entertainment is available at the community itself? Senior living communities often have a full-time entertainment coordinator who arranges events, activities, outings and more.
8. Is maintenance included? There are lots of reasons why seniors choose to move to a retirement community. One of the biggest reasons (besides living in a place designed for their health needs) is saying goodbye to dealing with the chores and hassle of homeownership. Maintenance-free living is a huge selling point and a big draw for many communities. For example, at The Village at Gainesville, all maintenance (including cleaning and laundry) is included, giving our residents all the time they desire to do the things they want and love.
9. Are pets allowed? Many of us have four-legged family members and would like to take them with us when we move to a retirement community. More and more communities are getting wise about the benefits of pets for seniors, so if your animals are an important part of your life (or, conversely, if you don’t want to be around animals), you’ll want to find a community that reflects your philosophy.
10. Can you picture yourself living there? Do you remember the first time you stepped into a new home, or a new place, and knew instantly that it was “home?” No matter how a place looks, sounds or feels on a balance sheet or piece of paper, there is that intangible je ne sais quoi that is so important … and is different for each person. You know yourself better than anyone, so as you’re touring different communities, ask yourself: can I see myself here? More importantly, can I see myself being happy, fulfilled and engaged here? Listen to your gut. If the answer is “meh,” then you should continue looking. However, if you feel deep in your heart that this is the place for you – listen to that little voice, and we promise you’re well on your way to a lifestyle you’ll love.
If you want the very best for your parent or loved one, consider The Village at Gainesville, a senior living rental community that offers independent living, assisted living and memory support. Contact us online or call us at 352-548-3507 to learn more about our variety of residential options.