Seniors looking to retire in 2019 have so much more to look forward to than retirees of the past.

Today’s modern senior doesn’t settle for the retirement community of the yesteryear. They have put their foot down hard and the retirement industry has sat up and paid attention.

What are your “must-haves” in retirement? When you picture your life in the future, what does it look like? Have you ever taken time to think about it? Well, those who do find that the time they spend sifting through their options ends up being time well spent. These individuals don’t wait until a drastic change in their health condition requires them to make a dramatic life change. Instead they, seek out those life change options to find them where they exist. In doing that, they are usually quite surprised to see all they have to choose from, and they are also quick to discover the things they want to avoid.

We suggest that you make a list of the things that are most important to your quality of life and then, just like when searching for any new home, you focus on the locations that possess your “must-haves”.

  • Do you see yourself close to a beach, maybe in the mountains, or in the big city close to cultural events?
  • Where do the majority of your friends and family live? Many times, being close to them is a great advantage as we age.
  • Do you enjoy the idea of continuous learning? Maybe living close to a university would be of benefit.
  • How much of the square footage where you currently live do you actually use on a daily basis? This will help you have a better idea of the size you need to transition into.
  • What hobbies do you enjoy? Will you need space in a new place to do those hobbies in your own apartment, or will you be happy if you find a place that offers them in a group setting?
  • What about medical facilities? Is it important to be close to certain ones?
  • How about when it comes to design features that you enjoy in your home? Is it important to find those same features in a new place? Are things like large closets, windows, a big backyard, gardening opportunities, terraces or balconies important to you?
  • Do you need to have a washer and dryer in your new place? If so, don’t be bothered looking at places that can’t offer you that.
  • Do you like to swim in a pool or soak in a Jacuzzi? Inside or outside? Saltwater or chlorine?
  • Do you like group exercise or prefer to do your own thing?
  • Look at the levels of care that are eventually needed by aging seniors. Don’t make the mistake of being in denial about this important consideration. Changing needs are a given, something you can count on, so plan for it. It will be important later, so why not find something that has what you need in advance of needing it? Find something you can approve of when you are healthy.
  • Ask to meet residents and find out their perspective.
  • Ask about turnover of staff, residents, and most importantly, ownership.
  • Ask to meet executive management.
  • Ask how residents are involved in changes in community services or initiatives.
  • Try the food!!
  • When you make a transition, keep in mind that if you have a change of condition you may find a need to have additional care – how will you handle that? Know going in that if you move somewhere you LOVE and then experience a change of condition, you may have to get out and find another place if they can’t provide the services you need. Or, you may just want to start out only looking at places that can provide everything you need regardless of how your health condition might change.
  • Would you prefer to live in a community developed by a public entity or a non-profit one? You can learn some of the differences by visiting www.brazostowers.com/about-us/#nonprofit.

If you have adult children, trying to formulate your own plan for the future is one of the best gifts you can give them. Talk with them about it and maybe include them in your process if that is important to you. Adult children typically are very concerned about what the future plan will be and would prefer that plan is completed according to your wishes and not theirs. Having you choose a place where you feel comfortable releases them from the worries that they will end up having to make a choice that won’t make you happy.

Even if your goal is to stay in your family home, don’t make the mistake of not planning what that will look like. Don’t ignore the fact that you WILL have changes in your condition as you get older. If you choose the path of denial it ends up causing more stress, guilt, and anxiety in the long run. So, plan for this phase of life the way you planned for every other phase of your life like education, marriage, starting a family, finding a job, or buying a home. Why would you stop planning when you need it the most?

Take this opportunity to create your future – all the tools you need are out there… you just have to start the process of sifting through your options and prioritizing them based on your must-haves.

About the Author: Michelle Watkins
After many years of working in the industry of retirement living, Michelle now serves as a Retirement Counselor and Marketing Director of Brazos Towers at Bayou Manor. Helping seniors successfully navigate their choices by better understanding the differences between communities and the services they offer is an important part of her daily role. Whether these individuals end up moving to Brazos Towers at Bayou Manor, or somewhere else, Michelle knows that she and her team have succeeded if visitors leave with the information and tools they need to create a plan that will allow them to thrive in the next chapter of their lives.

Please call me at 713-660-5033 to schedule your complimentary retirement planning consultation. Or feel free to email me at michelle.watkins@houstonretirement.org.