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Moving out for retirement? There's lots to consider

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In my grandparents’ time, retirement living facilities weren’t part of the scene.

 Three of my grandparents died at home, the fourth in hospital shortly after being admitted.
When my parents sold their house, they opted for a modestly priced, one-bedroom apartment in an over-55, not-for-profit establishment. There were amenities, but not on the scale now offered in retirement living options. The location was excellent.

Today, a number of our friends and relatives have chosen a retirement living community.
Before they moved, research into the various places was done in detail. This included on-site tours, staying for a lunch or dinner meal, and comparison shopping. However, comparisons aren’t that simple to make.

First of all, age and construction of the building should be considered. Have updates been done or are they needed? Do the suite layouts suit your lifestyle?

Monthly rents are easy enough to establish once you’ve decided on a one-bedroom or two-bedroom suite. It’s the amenities that complicate things. What’s included with the rent and what’s an added cost?

There are many questions to ask. Is parking included? Is it outdoors or inside? Is there valet service to bring your car to the front door? Is there a shuttle bus to take people shopping and on outings? Is the shuttle available for driving you to medical appointments? In some cases the shuttle is shared by more than one facility, perhaps making the booking for an appointment tricky.

Is laundry in suite or is there a shared laundry room on each floor? Are bedding and towels supplied with the bed changed weekly and the linens laundered by staff? Or do you supply the linens and either pay for the laundering or wash them yourselves? What weekly suite cleaning is part of the package?

Of course there is the basic question: What meals are provided with the monthly rent? Sometimes it’s only dinner with the opportunity to pay for a lunch package. Or again, all three meals may be included. Is seating fixed or can you sit where you please in the dining room?
One facility that I’m familiar with has a 24-hour snack bar which includes items such as cookies, muffins, slices, fresh fruit and beverages.

If you are responsible for some of your meals, what type of kitchen arrangement does your suite have?

Consideration of the public spaces also is important: dining room, foyer, library, exercise room, movie theatre, craft area, games room, outside grounds. What activities are offered on a regular basis? Are there day trip opportunities?

Lastly, what staff members are on site over a 24-hour period? What security features are offered?


If you decide a seniors’ retirement community will be your next home, happy hunting!    
Jeannette Timmerman is a community correspondent for Fort Richmond.

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