When Is It Time to Move Into a Retirement Community?

Moving into a retirement community is one of the biggest decisions a person can make in their golden years. It’s not a choice that should be taken lightly since it has a major impact on a senior’s quality of life after they retire. 

It’s better to plan to move into a retirement community before it becomes necessary due to illness since there are often waiting lists involved. The time for moving into a retirement community depends on an individual’s health, their social goals, and their support network. 

Timing a move to a retirement community involves more than looking at the advantages and disadvantages. It also means looking at some reasons why you might consider it. Keep reading to learn more about retirement communities and when you should think about moving to one. 

Timing for Moving into a Retirement Community

The timing for moving into a retirement community depends on many different factors. These affect a person’s ability to move as well as the type of retirement communities that would be best for them. Here are a few things to look at when deciding the best timing to move into a retirement community (Source: Retire Fearless): 

  • Health: Many people may wait until they are beginning to decline in health before they start to look into a retirement community, but making the move in poor or declining health can be much more stressful than moving before health begins to decline. With dementia or Alzheimer’s cases, moving to a retirement community earlier can help prevent lasting confusion.
  • Social needs: As people become older after retirement, they often find it difficult to socialize as much as they did when they were younger. This can leave the elderly with a diminishing number of friendships going into later retirement. If seniors find themselves in a position of social isolation, retirement communities can help meet their social needs.
  • Living situation: An issue that many seniors run into as they get older is a reduced ability to do chores around the house due to mobility problems or increased fatigue. Once these issues start to set in, moving to a retirement community can take a lot of the labor out of household maintenance by removing chores such as yard work and even cooking.
  • Emotional stability: The social isolation that comes with retirement as well as geriatric illnesses such as dementia can leave retired people at risk of emotional instability such as anxiety, confusion, or depression. Living in a retirement community offers retired people a support network that can help a person meet their emotional needs. 

At the end of the day, there’s no right time to move into a retirement community—that time will be different for every person depending on their circumstances. And for some people, moving into a retirement community might not be the right decision at all. 

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Advantages of Moving Into a Retirement Community

Even though some seniors may be resistant to the idea of a retirement community, there are many benefits involved with this kind of living arrangement. Because retirement communities are built around the needs of seniors, they can offer amenities that aren’t available in any other kind of housing. 

These are some of the benefits of moving into a retirement community: 

  • Activities: While many people may have big plans for what they intend to do when they retire, these plans can sometimes fall to the wayside and retirees can find themselves adrift after they stop going to work every day. Many retirement communities have a wide variety of trips, activities, and hobby workshops to keep retired communities engaged. (Source: Independence Villages)
  • Medical care and monitoring: Retirement communities can offer different levels of medical supervision and on-premises medical staff to deal with chronic health conditions. This can give seniors peace of mind, especially if they are living with medical problems.
  • Physical security: For retired people who are worried about their safety living alone or in isolated conditions, a retirement community can provide a sense of security. Many of these communities function as gated communities with security staff on patrol.
  • Healthy meals: Keeping up with a good diet can become more difficult with age since elderly people may have a harder and harder time cooking as they age, or even making trips to the grocery store. Retirement communities can be a great way for retirees to make sure they have a chance to get three square meals a day.
  • Housekeeping: Like cooking, daily housekeeping chores and even larger home maintenance tasks like cleaning gutters can become too strenuous for people to keep up as they move farther into their retirement. Retirement communities help people transition to a more simplistic living environment that better suits their needs than their middle-age home might have.
  • Accessibility: As retirees grow older, they may come to need different accessibility options added to their home environments such as safety rails and wheelchair ramps. Retirement communities offer these accessibility options without forcing the retiree to go through the expense or difficulty of installing them. 

Retirement communities aren’t just for people who can no longer care for themselves due to advanced age. They actually have many amenities that can benefit retirees no matter what their health condition is or their circumstances are. 

Moving Into Retirement Communities While Healthy

Moving into a retirement community is often a stage that people think about when they reach a point of poor health to the point that they can’t take care of themselves independently. In reality, it can often be a good idea to move to a retirement community well before advanced old age causes medical issues. 

A move to a retirement community is more stressful for those retirees who are in poor health or may be experiencing emotional instability as a result of dementia. Waiting until a person is in poor health to join a retirement community also means that they aren’t in any condition to enjoy many of the recreational amenities that retirement communities provide. (Source: Salmon Health and Retirement)

Reasons to Move Into a Retirement Community

If you’re wondering whether or not the time is right to move into a retirement community, one way to determine the answer is to look at some common reasons why people decide to move into these communities. Here are some of the things you might want to look at when you’re trying to figure out the best timing to move to a retirement community: 

  • Do you have problems keeping up with basic daily tasks? Finding it increasingly difficult to bathe regularly, do the dishes, or cook meals is nothing to be ashamed of, but many older seniors fall into conditions of self and environmental neglect without monitoring and help.
  • Do you suffer from anxiety or depression? These mental conditions can often be alleviated by the security and activity that retirement communities provide. (Source: Bethany Village)
  • Do you lack a support network of family members who would live with you? Some seniors would prefer to “age in place” with grown children or other family members to help them, but for some retirees, this isn’t an option. Retirement communities can serve a social need when family support is low.
  • Do you want to connect with people your age? As they grow older, the social circles of many people shrink. Retirement communities are a good way to stay socially engaged and meet new friends long into retirement.
  • Do you have or anticipate chronic medical issues? Many retired people live with chronic health conditions such as COPD, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and others that can become worse over time. Moving into a retirement community with medical staff makes it easier to keep a handle on these conditions so that they stay manageable. 

No matter what your reasons are for joining a retirement community, the diversity of communities available means that there’s probably an option that caters to your needs. Some communities are set up as apartment buildings while others are set up like neighborhoods or villages. 

It all depends on the amount of hands-on monitoring needed by the residents. Retirement communities are often geared towards individuals who can still take care of themselves to a large degree. Many options allow residents to maintain some ability to live independently while also having quick access to the services they need.  

Retirement Communities Can Be Great 

Moving into a retirement community is a decision that may intimidate many people, but it doesn’t have to. There are so many different kinds of retirement communities available that you can find one that suits just about anyone. 

Steven Abbey

Steven Abbey is a author for Senior Living Headquarters and owns a home in a retirement community. His wife owns a successful family business that has served tens of thousands of people. He also has a electrical technician degree.

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