Consider all of the Retirement Living Options.
When thinking about a retirement community there are many things to consider, and there are several types of retirement living options depending on where you are in life.
Active Adult Communities
If you want to live completely independently, there are active adult communities that offer an active lifestyle for people age 55 and better. At these communities, you either buy or rent your home and activities are usually provided by the homeowners association. These communities do not offer any type of care.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
If you want to live completely independently, but you are also thinking about your future care needs, you could move into a CCRC – a Continuing Care Retirement Community. These communities offer independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. As your needs increase, you can stay in the community with more care provided to you. The component that sets CCRCs apart from other types of retirement communities is skilled nursing. If the community does not offer 24-hour skilled nursing, then it is not a CCRC. The beauty of moving into a CCRC is that if you need more care, you don’t have to uproot and move to a new community. You can still see your friends, participate in activities and enjoy your familiar surroundings, you will just be provided more care either in your same apartment or in an apartment that is licensed for more care. Another positive aspect of a CCRC is that if your spouse needs more care, especially memory care or skilled nursing, it can be provided at the community. Your spouse may need to move into the skilled nursing or memory care part of that building or campus, but you are still able to see each other, have meals together and so on.
Other Types of Retirement Communities
There are also communities that offer just independent living, just assisted living or just memory care or a combination.
So many of us conjure up images from when we might have visited our mom or grandmother in a nursing home, but retirement living options have changed significantly over the past few years. Communities today are simply not our “mother’s nursing home.” Most are beautiful, homelike, comfortable and like an all-inclusive luxury resort or cruise ship.
Residents living in “independent living” basically live active, totally autonomously but have the reassurance knowing that assistance and even care is available if needed. Residents who live independently in a retirement community generally live in their own cottage or apartment, drive their own cars, cook their own meals, can participate in community activities and have as much privacy or independence as desired.
Services and Amenities to Make Retirement Enjoyable
Many retirement communities offer these services to their independent residents:
- On-site dining, with the option to purchase individual meals or meal packages
- Planned activities and community outings
- Senior University classes
- Wellness/Fitness classes, personal trainers and fitness center
- Scheduled transportation to banks, stores and physician offices
- Guest accommodations
- Grounds-keeping and maintenance services
- If more care is needed we offer assisted living, nursing care, and memory care
Most seniors who have moved to independent senior living communities say they prefer life at their new home more than living alone and here are some reasons why:
- New friendships and social connections
- No yard work or home maintenance
- Moving into a retirement community can be economical
- Wonderful food
- Staying fit with people your own age
- Lifelong Learning
- Safety and peace of mind
- Freedom to come and go as you please and to make your own decisions and choices.
- Freedom to focus on what’s most important to you, rather than being weighed down by the anchor of daily chores
- Volunteer Opportunities
When you need more care, choosing a new place to call home can be a challenge in the best of circumstances. When looking for a place that can accommodate particular health and daily living needs, the challenge can become even more daunting. You want a place where you can still be independent and enjoy life while receiving the assistance you need to live well.
Assisted Living communities should provide, for a fee, activities of daily living such as the following. These can typically be added as a person’s care needs increase.
- Personal hygiene
- Maneuvering in and out of bed and/or walking
Here are some questions you should ask when looking for a superior assisted living community.
- Do the residents look happy and well cared for?
- Is the community clean?
- Does the staff look happy?
- Are there common areas that help make the community look and feel like a home?
- Are the grounds well-kempt and are there areas for residents to walk and stroll?
- Does this community provide the services I or my loved one needs?
- What is the ratio of staff to residents?
- Does the community offer additional services or have a skilled nursing facility on-site should care needs change?
- What amenities and activities does the community provide?
- What are the dining options and are special dietary restrictions honored?
Choosing the Right Memory Care Community
Perhaps no form of care requires more patience, compassion, or skill than caring for those living with memory loss. Finding the right community is essential in helping ensure a life of purpose and fulfillment for your loved one.
First, you’ll need to find a community that has a separate neighborhood for memory care and one where the staff received specialized training for working with this population.
Here are some questions you should ask when looking for a superior memory care community.
- Is it a secure neighborhood that specializes in memory care?
- What specific services does the community provide?
- Does the staff receive specialized training?
- What level of personal attention and assistance can residents expect?
- Does the community have a special dining program that uses various techniques to address the specific challenges people living with dementia have while eating?
- What programs are offered to stimulate the mind, exercise the body and provide socialization opportunities?
- Does the community group people by level of cognition?
- How does the community handle medical emergencies?
- What is the ratio of staff to residents?
- How does the community communicate with families about a resident’s well-being?
None of us like to think about skilled nursing, but there comes a time when many of us may need more care than we can get from family members or even in an assisted living community or memory care facility. Skilled nursing care facilities, or “nursing homes,” are licensed healthcare facilities that are inspected and regulated by a state’s Department of Health Services. They offer long- and short-term care for individuals who need rehabilitation services or who suffer from serious or persistent health issues.
Skilled nursing facilities are staffed 24 hours by Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Certified Nurse’s Aides, Restorative Aides, and Social Workers. Many skilled nursing facilities also offer Activity Coordinators that round out the active and engaging, yet peaceful and practical environment of quality care.
Skilled nursing care facilities also provide:
- pharmaceutical, laboratory and radiology services
- social and educational activities
- laundry services
- limited transportation
- end-of-life or hospice care
- respite care
Not all nursing homes offer these services. Families should visit several facilities to find the one best suited to their loved one’s needs.
When looking for at retirement living options, whether you want to live independently or need care, be sure to visit several. Each community has its own personality, and each community has a variety of offerings that may or may not fit what you are looking for. Make sure to take a full tour of the community, have a meal there and even participate in an activity or two to see how each community feels to you. You will find one that fits your wants, needs, desires, and budget!
Upside of Downsizing exists to promote the positive aspects of aging and provide valuable resources and connections.
Christine Hall, Sr Director of Marketing & PR at Franke Tobey Jones
Christine Hall has been a marketing and public relations specialist for the past 30 years. Before joining Franke Tobey Jones in 2009 Christine was the Vice President of Marketing for Jenamar Communities where she developed the brand and marketing program for Jubilee, an active adult community in Lacey, WA. Her other marketing experience includes nearly ten years with Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company as the Director of Marketing at Northwest Landing (a 3,000-acre master planned community) in DuPont, WA and eleven years marketing regional shopping centers in four states.
Chris has a BA Degree from the University of Washington (Seattle) with a major in Communications. She has earned both a MIRM designation (Member – Institute of Residential Marketing) and CSP (Certified New Home Sales Professional) through the National Association of Home Builders, as well as a CMD designation (Certified Marketing Director) through the International Council of Shopping Centers and an ATM designation (Advanced Toastmaster) through Toastmasters International. She is also a Leadership Fellow through LeadingAge Washington.
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