Experts on aging agree that continuing to have a sense of purpose is a key to longevity. Retirement presents the opportunity to explore new avenues of opportunity, meet new people and enjoy a variety of activities. It’s this engagement that gives us a sense of purpose and growth.
Finding the right retirement community is about asking the right questions. That process starts with a careful consideration of your individual needs and desires. While this exercise can present its challenges, it can also be pretty stimulating to imagine a new phase of life that isn’t dictated by getting up and going to work.
The optimal time to begin the process is while you’re still working. It takes time to figure out where you’ll want to be. You want to avoid the all too common mistake of failing to plan, whether it’s having no plan, waiting too long to make a plan or thinking that you don’t need a plan. There are a lot of options out there. The more you learn about the options, the easier that decision will be. You don’t want to be pressed to make a choice when you unexpectedly have a need.
While this hesitation may come from uncertainty about the future, one thing is certain: We all age and our needs will change as we do, so it’s important to do some homework and make a plan to address those needs. It’s not unlike starting a business—you’re setting yourself up to live successfully.
Here are 10 questions to ponder:
1. What do I want my future to look like?
2. What do I want to continue to do?
3. What do I not want to do?
4. What can’t I do?
5. What will I not be able to do?
6. What kinds of activities interest me?
7. Where do I want to be, near family, in my familiar community? City, country, suburbs?
8. What kind of people do I want to be with?
9. What amenities would I like?
10. How much space do I need?
You have to be realistic with your answers. For example, if you have health issues now, it’s highly likely that you’re going to have more in 10 years. You have to be honest about the barriers to things you want to do now and how will you manage those challenges later in life. Look around the house and ask: What do I want and what can I do without?
If you’re considering buying a retirement home, look beyond the real estate to the services that come with it or are nearby. The services will be important down the road.
A 55-plus community that suits your lifestyle at age 60 or 65 may not have the services to support you after age 75 or 80. You want to have access to a range of activities, various transportation options, shopping and nearby health services and support systems.
Popular options include lifecare retirement communities like Jefferson’s Ferry that enable residents to age in place, with independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities available on one site; assisted living facilities that offer rooms and apartments; independent living senior living communities; condominiums and shared space with family members, to name a few.
Most of us need people to thrive. And not just those to assist us with things we’re no longer able to do, but to engage our interests and be our friends and companions. Having more time to do the things you like and enjoy the company of old and new friends and family is a wonderful gift.
Cathy DeAngelo is the director of sales and marketing at Jefferson’s Ferry Lifecare Retirement Community in South Setauket