Retirement. The reward for decades of hard work. A time of life when the demands of a career have lifted and you now have freedom in shifting priorities and making new choices. From spending more time with family, doing all the things on your bucket list that you always wanted to do or finding solitude in downsizing and simple living, retirement is the optimal time of life to make new choices. No alarm clock. No commute. No problem.

Retirement is undoubtedly different for everyone.  Some retirees will continue to work and take on a new part time job while others will swear off work forever but one universal thing all retirees will have to deal with is deciding where to live once the paychecks stop coming in.

According to eldercare.com, “One of the most important decisions older adults make is their choice of housing. Their future contentment, comfort and even safety may depend on careful consideration of all the housing options available to them…Many retirees will want to stay in a cherished home for as long as possible while others will seek a group setting, where companionship and planned activities fill the day or where in-home support services may be easier to obtain…An older person who needs assistance may require a different type of housing than one who can live independently. What’s most important is matching, as closely as possible, housing and living arrangements with an older adult’s needs and desires.”

If you are beginning to think about your options after retirement or need to make a decision in the near future, fortunately, there is an array of housing options and living arrangements that can meet your needs. Understanding what the options are and the needs they fill is the first step in making a wise choice.

Live Independently.

Remember what Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz? “There is no place like home.” On the whole, most retirees prefer to remain where they have family and friends and connections to churches, communities and other local institutions. The typical retirement dream of riding off into the sunset with golf clubs and cold drink in hand is hardly the reality. The majority of retirees never leave home or downsize to something a little smaller and easier to maintain. Some advantages to living independently and remaining in your home include the use of reverse mortgage loans that can help pay for expenses such as home repairs, maintenance, medical expenses and long-¬term care needs. Downsizing and renting a smaller home is also another option and can free a retiree from many of the financial and physical responsibilities of being a homeowner. Cumberland Village, a senior living facility in Aiken, SC offers maintenance-free apartment living for retirees and Augusta Gardens is also an another option for independent living.

Retirement Living Communities.

As retirement continues, many people find their social lives are lacking. Fortunately in the past decade or two, retirement living communities have popped up. These aren’t nursing or assisted living facilities, but rather places where those aged 55 and over can live in closer proximity. In With a Little Help From Our Friends: Creating Community As We Grow Older, author and journalist Beth Baker observes that, as roughly 10,000 baby boomers a day are turning 65, “a significant cultural shift is underway.” The current and coming generation of older adults is realizing, says Baker, “that they can make other choices about where and how to live. With intention and planning, people around the nation are creating ways to live in community, alternatives that give them more control, more companionship, more dignity and choice than generations past.” Wymberly by Jensen Communities offers affordable manufactured homes in Martinez with an active senior living community and Elmcroft of Martinez focuses on wellness and keeping residents as independent as long as possible with a tailored plan of assistance.

Assisted Living.

With assisted living, arrangements can be made to help retirees stay as independent as possible while offering any necessary help. While not quite a nursing facility, assisted living does provide more care than a retirement community. Personal care and support services are available to assist with basic daily activities, such as bathing, dressing and medication management. Most assisted-living residences provide apartment-style living and offer meals, activities, housekeeping, transportation and some level of security. Benton House in the CSRA serves seniors who don’t want or need a nursing home, but who are weary of home upkeep, in need of a little personal assistance or simply desire to have more friends and interactions with others. Benton House, along with many other Assisted Living facilities also include a Memory Care or Alzheimer’s Center. Other facilities in the area include Brookdale Augusta, The Willows, Waverly Garden of Evans, HarborChase of Aiken, Hitchcock Place and Summerville Place.

Nursing Home.

When nursing care is needed daily and it’s time to give up the independence we all hold dear then moving into a nursing home with trained professionals that can handle any and all your needs may be necessary. These facilities provide skilled nursing care for older adults who require it. With doctors and nursing assistants on staff, most of the help with basic needs, daily activities, direct medical monitoring and other intervention is provided. Speech, occupational, and physical therapists work to keep residents as strong as possible.

The nursing-home decision is one of the most difficult housing choices that families have to make and quality of care can vary among facilities but doing research and visiting the facility can help make finding quality care a reality. Camellia Walk is a premier facility located in Evans, GA and residents receive around-the-clock care and services with a state-of-the-art community. Benton House of Augusta also offers a place of warmth decorated with fine furnishings, stunning artwork and, more often than not, the scent of something delicious baking in the kitchen.

Continuing-Care Retirement Communities.

These facilities feature independent-living apartments and homes and offer the various social, recreational, and cultural activities of other retirement communities. But they also have assisted-living and nursing-level care. In this “continuum-of-care” system, residents usually enter the facility at the independent-living level. Later, if your health and abilities decline, you can move to the assisted-living tier, and then, if necessary, to the nursing-home tier. Brandon Wilde, Augusta’s Life Care Community offers continuing-care retirement communities and encourages interaction and engagement through a multitude of programs and opportunities to socialize and to be stimulated. A Regional Wii bowling tournament, concert performances, line dancing in the ball room and gardening are among some resident favorites.

The Bottom Line

In retirement, living arrangements are more important than ever. As you progress through the third phase of life your needs, desires, body and ability to handle household duties and responsibilities will change. It’s important to consider these changes and plan ahead to find a retirement living space that will accommodate all of your needs during your golden years.

This article appears in the May 2017 issue of Augusta Magazine.

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