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Selecting a Retirement Community? Do Your Homework First.

MP900438735For those who decide not to ‘age in place,’ selling their home and moving to a retirement community is a big deal. Remember, you’re not just selecting a house, but a community. A good fit could have a great impact on your quality of life.

Before you make a decision on a retirement community, take a look at these savvy tips from a recent article in Lancaster Online, “It's never too early to start retirement planning.”

Give yourself plenty of time. It is never too early to start looking for a retirement community. Begin looking long before you need to move. That will give you ample time to research all of the many options for retirement living.

Evaluate the types of services offered. Some offer only independent living.  Therefore, if someone needs additional care in the future, they’d have to relocate again. Other homes offer a full range of care from independent living to skilled nursing.

Look at the cost. Calculate all the fees, such as those associated with assistance with activities of daily living or nursing care, as well as any entrance fees. Ask to review a standard community contract.

Plan ahead. Take the time to do estate planning long before you plan to move. If you do some estate planning at least five years before you may need to enter a nursing home, you may be able to protect a more of your assets from having to be spent on your care. Talk to an elder law attorney about specific strategies.

Look at the community’s location. Figure out transportation issues and whether you want to live in an apartment or a separate home. Look at how far it is to stores, medical care and other off-site places.

Thoroughly evaluate the community. Before meeting with people from different communities, create a checklist to complete for each one. Get your answers in writing to aid with accountability.

Plan a surprise visit. Show up unannounced, when you want to visit a community. Of course, the staff will be on its best behavior, if they know when you're coming. See how well they can adapt to accommodate you, when you aren't expected.

Speak with other residents. When you take a tour, talk to the residents and ask their opinions of the place.

Inquire about current occupancy. If you know how full the home is, you may have negotiating room on the cost.

Check the reviews. Research any online reviews of the retirement community, along with inspection reports.

Trust your gut. And your nose. If things don't smell right, and it smells like urine, that's a bad sign.

Consider what happens after a death. Will your spouse or partner be comfortable there after one of you dies? What is the financial arrangement for selling the unit after one or both spouses pass? Some communities have a well-structured plan that returns the value of the unit to the heirs. Others don’t. It’s not an easy discussion, but a necessary one, to have with your spouse, heirs and the person helping you to purchase your new home.

Reference: Lancaster Online (November 29, 2017) “It's never too early to start retirement planning”