QUESTION: I have been widowed for almost two years and am now considering a move. My home and yard are more than I want to continue to take care of. However, I am active and independent. I don’t need to be taken care of but at times am very lonely. I am considering what they call retirement living. Can you provide any guidance in this area when looking at different facilities?
ANSWER: I’d be delighted to tell you what I know about retirement living. It is one of the numerous alternatives the retirement housing industry offers seniors. You will find this type of accommodation referred to as a retirement community, a retirement facility or independent or congregate living.
No matter what the title these accommodations are designed specifically for independent senior adults and provide apartment like living with 24-hour on-site staff available should a problem occur. Services usually included are meals, housekeeping, non-personal laundry, social activities and transportation.
The social activities span both entertaining and educational events and participation helps make the residents feel a sense of community.
You should definitely plan to visit all of the retirement facilities available in your area. It is the only way you can determine what services are included in each and to compare the different facilities. Plan to tour the entire facility. Ask about any rules and regulations they may have. Are residents allowed to have a small pet in their apartment? Are residents allowed to occasionally have overnight guests and what arrangements must be made to have guests join you in the dining room.
Some facilities offer the opportunity to stay 2 or 3 days so that you can actually experience the feel of living there. If you are offered such an opportunity I encourage you to take it.
You should inquire about the cost and determine exactly what is included in the monthly fee. Checking on meal service is very important. How many meals per day are included in the basic monthly fee? If you have special dietary needs can they be met? If you are ill is tray service available and at what cost?
If you no longer drive is transportation available—how much and how often? If you still drive is parking available? Is parking in a garage, carport or out in the open?
Check on laundry facilities, availability of extra storage and on premises services such as barber or beauty shop. If you have out-of-town friends or relatives who may come to visit does the facility offer guest accommodations?
Look into the type and frequency of social activities. Are they the type of events you would be interested in taking part in? Also are trips away from the facility offered?
Since you will be living in much smaller quarters than you are currently used to make sure you look into the types of public rooms available for your use and enjoyment. Is the dining room pleasant? At what times are meals served? Are evening activities planned as well as daytime activities? Is here an exercise room? If so, what type of equipment is provided? Is there a small private dining room where you could host a family get together? Do these rooms appear well used?
Ask to have a current resident act as a guide for your tour. If possible try to have a meal as part of your visit. Be aware of how friendly the staff is to the residents. They should treat the residents with respect and know the residents by name.
Take some time after your visit to consider whether a particular facility is designed to allow you to live as easily and independently as you would like.
Good luck on your search. I’m sure there is a facility out there that will meet your desires and budget.
Thursday – June 27 – 1:30 to 3:00 pm – Seminar – “Will You Pass Your Next Driving Test?” – at Simi Valley Senior Center, 3900 Avenida Simi in Simi Valley.
For reservations call (805) 583-6363.
THURSDAY – June 27 – 1:00 pm – “Burn Prevention for Seniors” – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. For reservations call (805) 381-2744.
SUNDAY – June 30 – 3:00 to 4:30 pm – Presentation – “Time Travels Through the American West” performed by Romancing the West – at Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road in Thousand Oaks. Tickets are $5.00 available at Goebel’s front desk.
SUNDAY – June 30 – Doors Open at 11:30 am – Take Me Out to the Ballgame – “Dodger Game Day against the Colorado Rockies” – at Goebel Stadium – tickets are $7.00 and available at Goebel’s Front Desk.
Betty Berry is a senior advocate for Senior Concerns. The advocates are located at the Goebel Adult Community Center, 1385 E. Janss Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91362 or call (805) 495-6250 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (please include your telephone number.) You are invited to submit questions on senior issues.