Five tips for choosing the right retirement living option

Oct 28, 2019
Positive Ageing Advocate Marcus Riley has shared his top tips fo choosing the right retirement living option for you. Source: Getty.

When it comes to retirement living, you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach as, while retirement living communities may offer great benefits for some people, community living is not for everyone.

Retirement communities can have a really positive impact on your social life, providing you with an active calendar of activities and the opportunity to build friendships and close bonds. But, before you make the leap, it’s important to invest time in considering your options and what is right for you and your loved ones.

Here are five tips to help you decide whether a retirement village could be the right choice for you.

1. Make a plan

As with successful ageing more generally, the best way to ensure that you access the best care for your needs is by maximising your available choices. This can be achieved by planning what you are likely to need, what you want and where you want it to be. This will involve considering some what-if scenarios, which is not exactly a joy to ponder but it is well worth doing.

It is all about contemplating what is important to you, so that your personal priorities govern future decisions. Planning will help you maintain control, at a time where you are at greatest risk of having no control.

2. What are your preferences?

You need to establish a criteria, along with your personal preferences, that needs to be met. For instance, think about location and ask yourself, ‘Do I want to be somewhere I live now? Somewhere
closer to my family? Do I want to live in the hustle and bustle of an urban area or by the seaside?’

Additionally, the range of services and amenities needs to be considered to ensure that they are suited to your individual needs and preferred lifestyle. Ask yourself ‘Is there a good physical therapy program to help me maintain my mobility? Does the physical environment appeal to me? Is green space important to me? Do I need a place with a view? Which village will keep me connected with community and support network?’

3. Do your research

In researching your options, it’s important to obtain information about the village provider and ascertain what their values and reputation are, as well as who is leading them.

I’d strongly urge you to speak with people who have direct experience of a village, which ideally would be residents and families. However you could also speak to staff members, GP or other service providers associated with the village. It is also vital to obtain full details regarding fees and charges as they may vary from place to place and identify those ‘hidden costs’ as well.

4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Asking questions is a great way to get some insight into the reputation of the village owner and their structure. Do your own research and speak with people that live there, along with key staff members, as this will allow you to check that the organisation is aligned to your own values.

Some questions you should ask, include:

  • How does the operator respond to feedback and requests from residents?
  • How does the village support residents?
  • Does the village have an active community?
  • What’s the history of the village and operator?
  • How does the operator communicate with residents?

5. Consider expert advice

It’s imperative to fully understand all of the details of the financial and contractual arrangements, before you sign on the dotted line. Be proactive and seek your own legal advice so that you are completely clear and confident with the terms and conditions of your purchase and ongoing arrangements. This is something you want to be clear-cut from the start.

You can seek independent advice through a trusted legal advisor or financial planner – but make sure they understand the retirement living industry. You can also seek help from consumer advocacy services or a relevant state government agency, which regulate retirement villages across Australia.

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