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Taking Another Look: Living in a Senior Community has its Advantages

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“Aging in place” seems to be the buzz phrase in retirement planning these days. Here at AgingOptions we hear all the time from clients and radio listeners that their number one desire is to be able to remain in their homes for as long as they can in retirement. A major 2015 survey revealed that at least three-fourths of older adults say they plan to live in their present homes for the rest of their lives. Aging in place is clearly the popular choice.

But is it the best choice?  You may want to take a look at this recent article on the website Huffington Post for an alternative view. Written by someone in the senior housing community, the article is clearly biased in favor of retirement homes, but it does contain food for thought as you consider your housing options during your retirement years. And it may cause you to reconsider the idea that aging in place is the only retirement living choice worth considering.

Our desire in our practice at AgingOptions is to help retirees protect their assets and avoid becoming a burden to their loved ones as they age. We also help our clients make certain they avoid moving into an institution against their will. However, we definitely acknowledge that there are some retirement communities that can make great places to live. The choice depends on your preferences, your health and your finances. The Huffington Post article is called “Four Unexpected Ways You’ll Save by Moving into a Senior Living Community.” Let’s take a look at the points this article raises. You can see if these make sense for you.

First, of course, when you move into a senior living community you generally kiss your mortgage good-bye. According to statistics from a 2013 analysis, nearly 40% of adults 65-74 were still paying on their mortgages, as were almost 20% of those 75 and older. For many seniors, mortgage debt is a significant burden in their retirement years. Add to mortgage costs the expense of taxes, insurance and upkeep, and it’s easy to see how moving into a retirement home can make financial sense.

A second area where senior community living can “save” is in the area of “saving your nutritional well-being,” as the article puts it. Good statistics are hard to pin down but some experts suggest that up to fifty percent of seniors suffer from poor nutrition, typically aggravated by living alone, a condition that makes meal planning more of a challenge. Most retirement residences make certain those living there maintain adequate nutrition, with all the added benefits a healthier diet can bring.

The third area of savings ties in with the first: those who live in senior residences save on the costs associated with housekeeping.  Anyone who has cared for an aging relative living alone has probably seen how household upkeep can tend to suffer, which can cause health problems and add to a sense of isolation, even depression. With laundry, housekeeping and linen service included in most retirement homes, these chores become someone else’s problem.

The final saving is the most obvious, in some ways: residents in senior communities “save their social life.” Socializing means much more to a senior’s well-being than simply having fun: repeated studies have shown that active socializing aids both physical and mental health, sometimes delaying the onset of dementia and helping to stave off the depression that isolation can bring. As humans, experts say, we were designed to live in community, and there’s no better place to see this design lived out than in a well-run senior living facility.

Here at AgingOptions, as we look at the retirement landscape, we’re struck by the fact that aging Baby Boomers entering retirement will soon be demanding an increasing variety of living situations. For many, aging in place will remain the gold standard. Others for a variety of reasons will choose the benefits of living in some form of community, probably independently at first, then taking advantage of increasing levels of care as their needs increase. The array of choices can seem bewildering, and the potential for confusion is only going to increase as options proliferate. Our advice: You need a guide to help you navigate your retirement choices. We would be honored to serve you in that capacity.

Our approach to retirement planning is called LifePlanning, and it considers much more than your housing selections.  We will also help you ensure that your legal affairs are entirely in order, that your financial plan is sound and designed for the long haul, and that your medical coverage is the best for your needs. And because aging is a family affair, we’ll help you make certain your family understands and supports your wishes. All these elements become part of your LifePlan. If that sounds like a uniquely complete approach to retirement planning, it is!

We invite you to find out more by attending a free LifePlanning Seminar, offered in locations throughout the area. A few hours invested now will be well worth it, we assure you! Click on the Upcoming Events tab on this website and register online, or call our office during business hours and we’ll assist you. Don’t evaluate retirement housing options – or make any other major retirement decisions – without a qualified, objective guide. That’s what our staff at AgingOptions will be for you.

(originally reported at


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