One of the best parts of being a financial advisor is participating in the important decisions our clients make and the privilege of offering advice in those discussions. Of the decisions in our clients’ lives, one of the most significant is whether to stay in their home or move to a retirement community. It’s a topic about which people have strong opinions. What we find, though, is their opinions are often based on uninformed assumptions or stereotypes, not knowledge and true understanding.

Moving at any stage of life is a major change, and there are special considerations when making what is potentially a final move. No matter what their opinion might be about retirement community living, we encourage clients to keep an open mind. Approaching your future with flexibility and an informed mindset greatly improves the likelihood of making the decision that’s right for you.

What is the upside of living in a retirement community?

Now then, let’s look at some of the benefits of retirement community living, whether that be independent living or short-term care.

Vibrant Community

In previous blog posts (see The Psychology of Retirement, Pros and Cons of Working Part-Time During Retirement) we’ve discussed the importance of relationships and community. Social interactions are a natural part of retirement communities. Most communities employ activities directors who organize events and group activities. Happy hours, book clubs, religious studies, volunteer opportunities, bingo, and much more help residents meet new people, foster friendships, and stay engaged in relationships.

Active Lifestyle

In addition to providing social outlets, the community aspect of retirement living can motivate residents to be physically active. Organized groups for walking, pickleball, and tennis, for example, keep residents moving and engaged in activities they enjoy. Many retirement communities have gyms that offer workout classes, and some have pools for lap swimming and water aerobics—activities not often available in private homes.

Multiple Levels of Care

As people age, the physical component of personal care becomes more challenging. Simply bending over requires flexibility and balance, both of which decline with age. When physical abilities are noticeably decreasing, it is worthwhile to consider a community that has multiple levels of care, such as independent living and short-term care that helps with activities of daily living. ADLs include bathing or showering, dressing, getting in and out of a bed or chair, walking, using the toilet, and eating. Being able to change levels of care within the same community allows for consistency in relationships and environment, thereby avoiding the disturbance of a stressful move.

What is the cost of living in a retirement community?

The cost can vary significantly based on factors such as location, level of care, amenities, and services. In Nebraska, monthly costs can range from $3,500 to $7,000 with the average cost being around $5,000–$6,000. Increased levels of care raise the cost to $12,000 per month for skilled nursing care.

Does a retirement community feel like home?

This is a tough question. We often encourage clients to visit numerous care facilities so they can really understand the culture of each community. Meet the potential neighbors and staff, try the food, check out the amenities, walk around the campus. Moving away from home can be difficult, so taking the time to find the best fit is important. Even if it doesn’t feel exactly like home, you’ll want to ensure that it does feel comfortable.

When is a retirement community the right choice?

One of the hesitations many people express in their reluctance to move to a retirement community is the perception that they would be giving up their independence. However, the amenities of a retirement community can sometimes increase independence as well as improve emotional and physical health.

In our experience working with clients, we’ve never heard a client express regret over the decision to move to a retirement community. Certainly, there are good reasons to remain at home. However, after careful consideration, you might find even more reasons to make the move.

In conclusion, the decision between staying in one’s home during retirement or opting for a retirement community is a significant one, often clouded by misconceptions and stereotypes. It’s crucial for retirees to approach this choice with an open mind, flexibility, and an informed perspective. Retirement communities offer a vibrant social life, opportunities for physical activity, and a range of personal care services that can enhance overall well-being. The cost may vary based on location and level of care, so it’s important to explore options thoroughly.

Are you ready to explore the possibilities of retirement community living? Contact us to have a CFP® professional assist with knowing what’s affordable.