Choosing Where to Retire: Aging in Place or a Community?

To many, retirement is a momentous point in life when the right to live worry-free has been earned. After all there is scientific proof that life gets better as you age. Retirement provides the opportunity to finally do what you like when you like.

However, it is also time to ask yourself one of the most important questions of your life: how to choose where to retire? It may seem like an easy choice, but it can actually be among the most difficult.

If you are relatively healthy, active, and surrounded by familiarity and routine, then staying put (or, aging in place, as it’s known) may at first glance, appear to be the best option. The Center for Disease Control defines aging in place as “the ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.”

How to Choose Where to Retire

1. Home Maintenance/Everyday Tasks

Maintaining a home may be a longstanding source of pride for many, but it can also become burdensome as we age. Small daily tasks, such as washing dishes, preparing meals and doing laundry, and larger home maintenance duties, such as raking leaves and shoveling snow, will eventually require more physical effort. Some of these responsibilities may be partially remedied by hiring outside help or from family members lending assistance.

Another option is choosing to live maintenance-free in a community designed specifically for seniors, which offers the freedom and flexibility now, with the security of providing more care options down the road. Many communities, like The Merion in Evanston, offer all-inclusive rent covering all utilities, housekeeping, maintenance and security.

2. Changes in Physical Health

There’s no denying that we all age. Although you may feel fit and healthy now, it’s inevitable that there will come a time when you will require more assistance in your daily life. Driving to doctors’ visits, grocery shopping for healthy meals and maintaining an active social life may not be an issue today, but is likely to become arduous at some point down the road.

In addition, if your home is located on a steep hill or up several flights of stairs it may become more difficult for you to leave, especially in bad weather, leading to isolation. A retirement community that provides transportation to the places you need to go, offers on-site well-being services, and provides ample opportunity to forge new friendships and take advantage of a multitude of rich cultural events is a comforting solution.

3. You Don’t Have to be Retired to Enjoy a Retirement Community

Contrary to what you may believe, you don’t have to be retired to reside in a senior living community. Many older adults are able to enjoy the lifestyle and amenities while still participating in a life outside of it. Whether you continue to work full or part-time, are pursuing an “encore” career, or have your heart set on volunteering, taking advantage of flexible residency program offers, like the 13-month option at The Merion of Evanston, may be a good fit for you.

seniors that chose the right place to retire for them

4. Memory Changes

Misplacing keys or forgetting an occasional appointment is something we’ve all done without much concern, but what happens when it begins to interfere with basic wellness and safety? Although the familiarity of our current home is comforting, one of the biggest concerns when planning how to choose where to retire. Round-the-clock healthcare services, such as those available at The Merion in Evanston, are flexible and determined by each resident’s individual needs.

Wellness amenities at The Merion range from basic wellness checks and medication reminders to screening and treatment from medical professionals, such as podiatrists, audiologists, dentists, and more, to Medicare-covered nursing visits that come to you. These options provide great peace of mind for residents and their families, and frees up time to enjoy the important things in life now!

5. A Sense of Security

In 1965 Bob Dylan sang, “for the times they are a-changin’,” referring to the age-old generational paradigm. Over the past fifty years times really have changed, especially technological advances in communication and medicine. Unfortunately, this progress has also given way to more advanced methods of crime and fraud, and often times older adults fall victim. Living in a community where on-site management and security is available 24/7 provides residents and their families with constant reassurance and comfort.

6. Social Life and Companionship

There is a lot of research lately that highlights the importance of social connections as we age. Whether it’s being part of a group or club, getting together frequently with friends or just getting out and catching up with neighbors, we all need that social interaction in our lives. But what happens when mobility issues threaten everyday routines? Health issues, such as sickness or injury, can disrupt our well-being and often lead to isolation.

One benefit of living in a senior community is that it provides the best of both worlds when thinking about how to choose where to retire. Residents can choose to be as social as they wish, but also have their own home to go back to when solitude is needed. In addition, typical routines and amenities are available to you, even if you’re under the weather or have injured yourself, and friends and neighbors don’t have to travel far to visit!

how to choose where to retire - Seniors happy with their decision walking outside

7. Ease of Transportation

We all need to get where we are going each day, even in retirement.  Whether this means getting to an appointment, running errands or just getting out to make the most of each day. As we age our driving skills and eyesight may not be as sharp as they once were.  Furthermore, who needs the cost and maintenance of an automobile if commuting is no longer a requirement? Many senior living communities offer their residents free transportation. In addition, some of them, like The Merion in Evanston, are located in the heart of bustling neighborhoods with the conveniences of retail, restaurants and parks right outside the front door.

8. Meals and Nutrition

I don’t know about you, but when I think about my own retirement one of the first things I hope to enjoy are healthy meals, preferably prepared by someone other than myself. We all know that eating a balanced mix of foods every day has many health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, bone loss, and some types of cancer.

Senior living communities are developed with the health and well- being of older adults in mind.  For instance, The Merion in Evanston creates healthy made-to-order meals using fresh local ingredients created by a talented culinary staff.  If nutrition, ambience and service are your preference then a senior community may just be what you’re looking for.

9. Downsizing can Set You Free

No one looks forward to the headache of moving, especially if you have deep ties to a particular place. However, choosing to downsize on your own terms can be liberating for you and comforting for those close to you. 

Planning ahead takes the burden off of loved ones having to make difficult decisions should we become unable to at some point down the road. It ensures that the possessions we deem valuable get to where we want them to go, and, more importantly, provides a long-term plan of our own accord.  Downsizing doesn’t always have to be stressful, especially when it signifies a new chapter in our life. Joining a new community, forging new friendships and the joys of a new home are all exciting endeavors, whether you’re heading to college or retirement!

10. The Amenities of a Senior Living Community

At senior living communities like The Merion in Evanston the all-inclusive amenities often rival any vacation resort, whether it’s an emphasis on the arts that you value, or you seek self-enrichment opportunities, such as yoga, educational lectures and intergenerational volunteering.  Perhaps you want the thrill of interactive games, tournaments, excursions and day trips, or maybe exploring nearby beaches and neighborhoods peek your interest.  From clubs to cooking demonstrations and everything in between, senior living communities have many comforts and features that may appeal to you.  Just keep in mind, with so much to do, your family just may start vacationing at your place!

These ten key factors are worth considering when choosing where to retire.  You can never be too prepared. As a wise man once said, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining” (John F. Kennedy, State of the Union Address January 11, 1962). If you’re ready to discuss your retirement options, contact us today or schedule a tour!