Should they stay or should they go?

When is the right time for your parents to consider moving to an independent retirement community?

The good news: your parents are living longer! In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20 to 25% of our adult life will be spent in “active” retirement. And more good news is that thanks to the healthy habits and positive lifestyle choices baby boomers have embraced, many of them will live those years in relatively good health. The big question is, where should they spend their retirement?

As your parents consider their options, it is useful to evaluate the pros and cons of staying in their current home or selling and moving into a retirement community. Discussing the following topics and questions with them will help you both determine what will serve them best.

Socializing: Ask your parents about their interactions with neighbors and their nearby friends:

  • Is the neighborhood changing?
  • Is their social circle getting smaller as younger neighbors move in?
  • Do they feel isolated or disconnected from friends who have moved away?
  • Are they able to do the activities they want to do?

A move into a retirement community would offer them:

  • Wide variety of activities
  • Opportunities to socialize, including a fitness center, educational events and entertainment
  • Easy access to friends in the community

62%: Respondents who indicated a desire to live in a community that offers a full continuum of living options.*  

Meals and Nutrition

Proper nutrition is an important aspect of maintaining health at any age. Ask your parents:

  • Do they enjoy preparing meals several times a day, every day?
  • Are their meals balanced and nutritious?
  • Do they regularly try new foods or recipes?

As they age, many seniors pay less attention to overall nutrition and eating well. Retirement communities offer residents choices regarding their meals:

  • Have the option to cook for themselves
  • Utilize a meal plan from time to time or more frequently as they age, or their circumstances and interests change over the years
  • Assurance that nutritional needs are being met through the meal plan

67%: respondents who agreed that a retirement community offered more options for eating well than living in a single-family home.*

Home Maintenance: Managing a home takes time and energy. Check with your parents on these aspects of home ownership:

  • Are they committed to ongoing home maintenance and neighborhood responsibilities, including painting and exterior work, landscaping and snow removal and ensuring the house is in good working order?
  • Are they concerned about the stress and anxiety that could develop as a result of managing their home?
  • Are they prepared to turn to family or friends, or hire help, to continue the maintenance and upkeep of the home?

These tasks may be doable for now and give your parents a sense of satisfaction as they showcase their home. (But much of that work may fall to you in the coming years as well.)

Moving to a retirement community offers worry-free living to residents:

  • Makes life easier by offering a home that’s maintenance-free
  • Community manages the facilities, including their home, and all its amenities
  • Questions or concerns are addressed easily and efficiently by the community maintenance staff

78%: respondents who indicated they would like to be free from home maintenance.*

Safety at Home: Any number of things can have an impact on your parents being safe in their home. Check with them on the following:

  • Home hazards: Does the home have a small area rug, an older electrical outlet, or a leaky pipe? Paying attention to small things which are potential hazards (and addressing them) is important
  • Have they had the home inspected lately for any structural or safety concerns?
  • Are they experiencing any stress or anxiety over home safety?

As they consider their options, they should remember:

  • A retirement community home is fully maintained and safe.
  • Freedom from dealing with home safety concerns will offer them more leisure time and the opportunity to travel or spend time exploring other activities they enjoy

88%: respondents who indicated a retirement community offers the best opportunity for personal safety and security.*

Medication and Health: Independent living means taking full responsibility for their own healthcare. Ask them if they are comfortable with the following:

  • Can they confidently manage their own medications, now and in the future?
  • Are they comfortable taking charge of their overall healthcare; and perhaps that of their spouse as well?
  • Do they know how to seek out a specialist and build their own network of health care professionals should they need to in the future?

The professionals in a retirement community can help with the following:

  • Managing medications, physical therapy or other health care concerns
  • Recognizing the changes in the health needs and medications of their residents as they “age in place”
  • If and when more care is indicated, your parents will have the option to rely on the healthcare providers within the community to receive the care they need

52%: Percentage of Americans turning 65 this year who will develop a disability as they age, serious enough to require long-term services and support.*

Travel Safety: Independence is important, but safety is critical as we age. Ask your parents:

  • Are they comfortable driving to the store, to doctor appointments or traveling for pleasure?
  • As they age, do they anticipate or even fear the inability to transport themselves, either because they’re in a remote location or they’re not as comfortable behind the wheel as they once were?
  • Do they want to rely on their children or others for their transportation?

Transportation concerns are addressed easily within a retirement community:

  • Most communities include everything they may need within walking distance, or within the community itself, which makes driving less of a concern over time.
  • Communities provide transportation to either social events or to a doctor’s appointment.

72%: respondents who indicated transportation services are important on-site conveniences.*

Caring for Spouse: Aging sometimes means that one person becomes the caregiver for the other, and with that comes a great deal of responsibility. Ask your parents:

  • Caregiver role: Are each of them prepared to transition into the role of caregiver if needed?
  • If so, is he or she willing to take on that role full time, possibly with some help from family or friends?
  • Do they anticipate being part of a healthy and caring community as they age, which offers peace of mind to family and friends?

A retirement community offers an environment that addresses the needs of your parents as they age, which means they can enjoy the following:

  • Having healthcare options and assistance available to them, whether they live in a cottage, an apartment or other independent unit.
  • Knowing their healthcare needs are being addressed, couples can stay together longer and enjoy a better quality of life.

79%: respondents who said they were more likely to consider moving into a lifestyle community that offered a number of living options for themselves and their spouses as they age.*

The reasons for making a move are as diverse as the people considering one. Whether it’s a desire to be free of home maintenance, looking for the best way to downsize and remain active, or interest in an environment that offers a variety of options and activities for residents sharing a new stage of life together, exploring a community like Moravian Village of Bethlehem is the first step in securing the best “fit” for your parents at this very vibrant and fulfilling time of their lives. Talk to one of our experts to learn more about how we can assist you and your parents as you explore our community together.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Granda at 610-625-4885 x 407 or jgranda@moravianvillage.com

*National Survey of Family Members of Residents Living in Continuing Care Retirement Communities, 2011 ; pp 7, 8, 26, 27