Should You Choose to Live in a Retirement Home?
Many people, after the age of 75 (or in some cases before that) begin to consider the possibility of moving into a seniors’ residence. Perhaps they are beginning to experience some health problems and worry that they might die alone in their house or their condo. Perhaps their children are pressuring them to move, again because of possible health concerns.
It might be because the yard work or the housekeeping has become too much, or a general lack of mobility keeps them isolated and alone. In my own case, a TIA was a clear warning that an environment where there was fast access to medical assistance was preferable to living alone. After all, I did not want my relatives to have to break down my condo door only to find that my cat had been snacking on my 5 day old corpse.
Here, then, are some things to consider.
Do take a tour of senior residences in those parts of the city in which you would like to live. How close do you want to be to family and friends? If you will be sharing space with a partner, ask yourself if you both will be happy living in a reduced space. Sometimes, after retirement, peace and harmony reign only when there is sufficient private space.
Go in with a list of those things that are important to you. Is it important to have a lawn and gazebo with comfortable seating for the 6 days of summer we get? Do you want a gym with exercise equipment to maintain your fitness?
I have been living in an “upscale” (read Private) Seniors’ residence for 3 years now, and this is what I wish I had asked before I moved in and what I would look at if I were making this decision today.
1. What are the “extra” costs associated with living here? In my case, parking, “special” housekeeping services like turning a mattress or dusting the top of cupboards, hairdresser, etc. Don’t assume ALL costs are covered.
2. What are the meal arrangements? Is there assigned seating or can you sit by yourself if you wish? Are ALL meals covered under your contract or just one or two? Is cafeteria style available or are all meals served?
3. What qualifications do the medical on-site staff have? What medical services are available on site?
4. If you do not have a car, what is the process for buying groceries or other shopping?
5. Are all residents independent or are there a percentage of suits rented to those on “assisted living”? What percentage is allocated to those with cognitive decline?
6. What is the ratio of staff to residents? What percent of staff are permanent full-time? What is the staff turn-over rate?
7. Is there an official complaint process or dispute resolution process?
8. Can residents freely come and go to their suite, and have visitors in?
9. What kind of security does the facility have?
10. Are the majority of residents drawn from the same type of people you socialize with now?
While living in a residence may not be the best choice for everyone, it may be absolutely the best choice for some.