Choosing a retirement community can be a daunting task. With a plethora of options to consider, you might be wondering if you should stay in your current home, or if you should be researching other possibilities. Or, you may be researching for your retired parents, who face a potentially uncertain future.
Here are five questions to consider before choosing a retirement home:
Are You Looking to Dance the Rumba or Play Bingo?
Activities are an important feature of retirement communities, and for good reason: Staying active and engaged as you age can make you happier and healthier, adding years to your life. Take a look at the list of recreational programs: Are there robust pursuits like swimming, jogging, Pilates classes and golf competitions, as well as mentally stimulating activities like book clubs, knitting, Mahjong, and bridge? Or is it loaded with sedentary activities like bingo, watching television, and sitting in a group? This may provide insight into the average age of residents, which tends to rise as a community matures. The calendar of events may look impressive, but are activities you’re interested in poorly attended or offered at odd times? If, for example, your heart is set on taking excursions to the city or long nature walks and few residents are doing so now, get an assurance that these activities will continue to be available in the future.
Most importantly, will you have a say in which activities get chosen or are they determined by staff? For example, at Kendal on Hudson residents direct the activities and lifestyle of the community. Every resident is a member of the Resident Association; there’s a 15-member Resident Council, and there are close to 30 resident committees that plan everything from educational pursuits and trips, to horticulture, advocacy and artistic endeavors.
Will You Make Friends and Will Residents Share Your Interests?
Retirement communities can meet the need for connectedness. As an aging retiree, you may have few surviving relatives, may have lost a spouse through death or divorce, or may be otherwise averse to braving your final years alone or flying solo after having a partner for many years. You may move to a retirement community with expectations of finding a built-in circle of friends. This has given rise to what are known as affinity retirement communities, where most residents are retired postal carriers, or artists, for example.
But other retirement communities, including Kendal on Hudson, succeed by building communities around a common set of core values and location near a major city. Kendal on Hudson’s Quaker roots place emphasis on pacifism, respect for others, and universal humanitarian values that find easy acceptance with people of many faiths. Rather than requiring affinity, these communities thrive on the stimulation that differences provide. What’s more, Kendal on Hudson’s close proximity to New York City (25 miles north of Manhattan) is comfortable and convenient for many residents, most of whom have raised families in the area or still have strong ties with New York City cultural institutions, organizations and publications.
Will Your Children and Grandchildren Feel Comfortable Visiting?
Some communities encourage family visits—others, not so much. Those that do may have outdoor playgrounds for your grandchildren and may encourage you to invite family members to community events. This can make a difference, especially if you value every precious moment you can spend with your grandkids. On the flip side, some communities are concerned about under-age residents moving in on a permanent basis. These communities may have various policies for visitors under a certain age, or even limits on the number of monthly stay-overs.
Is Your Bottom Line The Bottom Line? Are There Any Hidden Costs?
It’s always a good idea to read the fine print, even in a contract with a retirement community – and especially when you’re looking at the prospect of living on a fixed income. You should know what’s included in monthly homeowner’s association dues and fees, and what’s not.
You might discover a flat fee is charged for services like cable TV, Internet, electricity and utilities. Or, you may be required to set these accounts up on your own. Will your housekeeper wash the bed linens and change the sheets and blankets or will you have to take them to a communal laundry room? Find out what’s included and what you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket. Have the details of your retirement home contract reviewed by your lawyer and financial advisor, or share it with your adult children before you sign.
Kendal on Hudson offers a choice of Residence and Care Agreement Options, with either 0% or 50% refundability. Each option provides residents with housing, residential services, amenities and a comprehensive package of health care services, including personal care services (assistance with activities of daily living) and long- term care.
The Value of CCRC: Will You Be Able to Age-In-Place?
By design, continuing care retirement communities like Kendal on Hudson provide a graceful transition from independent or assisted living to on-site skilled nursing care, when needed. Kendal on Hudson provides comprehensive on-site health care for life through an entrance fee and ongoing monthly fees that cover the costs under a choice of contracts between the resident and the community. The Residence and Care Agreement for Life Care provides personal care services and long-term care for life at the same monthly fee paid in the residence. As a second option, the Residence and Care Agreement for Modified Continuing Care provides these services for life, but offers a discounted entry fee with a choice of a one, three, or five-year contract.
Brenoff, Ann. Retirement Communities: The 7 Things You Should Ask, The Huffington Post. (Aug. 6, 2012) Accessed April 1, 2016: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/06/retirement-community-questions_n_1734709.html
Mears, Teresa. 9 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Independent Living Facility, US News & World Report, Sept. 8, 2015 (Accessed April 1, 2016): http://money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2015/09/08/9-questions-to-ask-when-choosing-an-independent-living-facility?page=2
Top Retirements.com, 7 Questions to Ask – Before You Pick a Place to Retire, (Nov. 12, 2013) Accessed April 1, 2016: