Making the Move to Senior Living – Your Decision or Others?

As the military saying goes, “It’s better to be five years early, than five minutes late.” When you apply this principle to choosing the right time to enter senior living, it’s entirely on the nose — moving before you need to ensures that you will get to retire the way that you want. Waiting too long means that others may have to make this decision for you.  Perhaps without much of your input or consideration for your wishes! When you are starting to debate your next move, you’ll want to keep several guidelines in mind.

First and foremost, senior living is not a nursing home! While a top-notch location will have access to nursing facilities, the majority of the community is for seniors who are living an active lifestyle. That means that you are still in charge of your time and leisure but free from the burdens of yard work and home maintenance. When you are deciding for yourself, realistically, you’ll be able to choose a place that offers just what you’re looking for in your retirement years. Do you want freedom from yard work or would you like to maintain a small garden? Do you enjoy being surrounded by lots of nature and greenery or do you want walkable access to cultural hotspots? You are the expert on yourself. And if you’re thinking about it now, you can be sure to get what you want and make sure that you have plenty of time to take advantage of it. The spa-like services, extensive menus, creative outlets, and ample socializing are all part of the package. Unfortunately, if you have waited to move into senior living until the very last minute, you may miss out on the fun. And you won’t have the social connections in place that are so important for all of us. Additionally, if you wait too long and your family chooses a location for you, it may not contain the pieces that are vital to your happiness in retirement.

Additionally, it can also be lonely and isolating to remain at home when you can no longer get out of your house and drive on your own. Social connections are essential throughout life, but they become paramount in the retirement years. Aside from the emotional and mental benefits, friendships can help protect your brain from Alzheimer’s, your heart from cardiovascular disease, and your body from osteoporosis! Having friends nearby that are navigating the same changes and finding solutions can make all the difference in life.

Much like choosing a college, finding the right retirement community can take time. You should start researching your options early and then narrow it down to a few choices. Ideally, plan to visit more than one option to get a feel for the different types of communities. Once you’ve chosen, you’ll want to set a timeline for your move, this will prepare you, both financially and logistically, for what is to come.

Keep in mind that your preferred community may have a waitlist and you will need to decide when to put yourself on the waitlist so that it lines up with your needs. This move date will influence when to downsize, put your home on the market, and myriad other decisions that are part of the retirement package. You’ll want all of this information ahead of time so that you can make an informed decision. If someone else makes it for you, time constraints can land you in a less than desirable location at an inconvenient time.

Finally, by deciding for yourself when to move, you’ll have plenty of time to tie up your affairs and property decisions. Making this decision for yourself, you control the journey as well as the destination for the next chapter of your life. With expansive amenities and services at senior living communities, the opportunities for your retirement are endless. Many people say they wish they’d moved sooner!

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