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A smooth move to senior living

By KEVIN AHMADI - Guest Comment | Jun 3, 2021

When it comes time for retirement, the Sunshine State is known best for its popular senior lifestyle, with people 65 years and older accounting for the state’s largest age demographic.

Despite Florida’s endless beaches and resort-style living, though, the decision to move to a senior community can still be a stressful one, especially when considering factors such as money, independence and downsizing.

According to an AARP survey, 90% of people over 65 prefer to age in place and 80% believe their current home is where they will always live. However, the cost of living at home can be surprising.

The price of aging in place — bills, taxes, health care and home maintenance — can stack up quickly to stay in your own home. And often, the biggest fear for older adults is running out of money.

A senior living community can make it easier to set a budget and stick to it while still enjoying a variety of popular programs and activities.

Finding the right community for you

The American Senior Housing Association recommends kicking off your search with two important questions.

First, start by asking how much you can afford.

When adding up monthly expenses, ongoing maintenance and in-home health care, the costs of senior housing can be favorable compared to homeownership. Make a list of your living expenses and financial resources, such as insurance and benefits. This information can help you create a budget and narrow your search for housing options. Given it’s a seller’s market, selling your home may make great financial sense and could help you secure a spot in a senior living community.

The second question to ask is what level of services you will need.

When choosing a community that best fits your lifestyle, consider the level of care, amenities and staff in addition to the cost and location.

Making the move

Once you have settled on a senior living community, make a plan early for additional help and logistics in the move. Older adults can appreciate the support of professional movers, as well as family members and friends, to simplify the moving process.

Moving presents a great opportunity to reevaluate household belongings. Create a list of valuable items to keep in the move, and mark the items that need to be tossed, sold or donated.

Lastly, visualize the layout of your new living space. To make the residence more homelike, decorate and furnish it in a way that resembles your previous family home.

Living your best life

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says 70% of people over the age of 65 will need some type of long-term care.

Moving into senior housing can open doors to new opportunities for enjoying life without the hassle of household chores and other responsibilities.

The senior living community lifestyle offers more time to explore fun activities, classes and programs right on-site. Additionally, life in a senior living community can help ensure your health care needs are met, even if you find yourself or loved one needing additional care services in the future.

A continuing care retirement community (CCRC), also referred to as a “life plan community,” is a senior living option that allows adults to live within the same community throughout their life, and offers a full continuum of care, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing or memory support care, depending upon the needs as one ages.

In addition to health services, lifestyle and amenities are a top consideration. Senior health research shows the highest levels of happiness come from socialization, exercise and purpose-driven activity. And, older adults that are physically active show lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and other illness.

By making the move to a senior living community, every day can be a new opportunity to engage in purposeful connection for a longer, happier life.

To learn more about life in a senior living community, please visit GulfCoastVillage.com.

Kevin Ahmadi is regional vice president of operations for Volunteers of America, the parent organization for Gulf Coast Village in Cape Coral, The Preserve in Fort Myers, the Colonnade in Estero and Senior Choice at Home.