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Housing Choices In Retirement

Posted on 17th March 2017 by Wendy Butler

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Ageing is for many people a time for change and adjustment and part of this process is planning for your future housing requirements. There is no magic formula as everybody is different but your choice needs to reflect your lifestyle, health and of course financial criteria. It can be a stressful time not only for you, but also for the whole family. Here we look at the housing choices that are available in retirement including staying at home, moving in with family, sheltered housing, assisted living, retirement apartments and retirement villages.

It’s important not only to assess your present requirements but also to think about future needs. This article looks at the various types of retirement housing with some pros and cons which should make it not only easier for you to decide but it should also make it more probable that you make the right choice. The last thing you want to do is to move home again within a few months or a few years.

The choices open to you are:

• Staying at home

• Moving in with family • Sheltered Housing

• Assisted Living • Retirement Apartments

• Retirement Village

Staying At Home

If you continue to live in your home, you may have to consider having it adapted in the future if your mobility decreases or your health deteriorates. Think about whether your home is easily accessible and if you have stairs; could these be an issue in the future? Would a shower be more convenient than a bath and is your home wheelchair friendly? Couples will have to think about the consequences if one becomes chronically ill and has to go to a nursing home resulting in an enforced separation.

An alternative could be to downsize and there are very important issues to consider including your budget, the nearby facilities such as shops and banks, public transport, proximity to friends and family and will you be able to keep up with your hobbies and interests. Don’t forget to factor in that there may become a point when you cannot drive.

Moving In With Family

This might sound like the ideal solution as you will be onsite to help out and you will be near to your grandchildren. However, this does need to be discussed realistically and key considerations should centre around how much support you may need in the years ahead - the last thing you would want is to become a burden on your family. Contingency plans do need to be talked about including what happens if you need to move to a care home or an assisted living facility, or what would happen if there is a split in the family.

Sheltered Housing

This is also know as Retirement Housing and is normally in the form of self-contained flats and bungalows, which can be purchased or rented. Sheltered Housing is accommodation designed for maintaining independence with residents having their own front door, lounge, kitchen and bathroom. Some facilities do have a communal lounge where residents can meet for social gatherings.

Key considerations are the duty hours of the warden as some are just employed on a part-time basis and the cost of service charges. It should be noted that very few offer medical or personal care. Those that do are known as Extra Care or Very Sheltered Schemes. It’s wise to check very carefully as to what is on offer.

Assisted Living

This is housing which is designed to promote independent living in a specialist complex. Some Assisted Living facilities may have carers onsite 24 hours a day and  offer a full package including a daily maid service and a full meal service.  Others, however, may offer cleaning once a week and only a lunchtime meal with no care or support team onsite at any time of the day. Therefore, it is important that you check very carefully as to what is offered between the various assisted living providers.

Retirement Apartments

These may seem a good solution for downsizing as retirement apartments come with the benefits of a readymade community and a communal lounge where residents can socialise. However, you will need to check that there are enough facilities for you and it’s also advisable to check how long the warden is on site as it may be that they are only there from 9am – 3pm and not at weekends. Quite often the emergency call system goes through to a call centre and, should it ever be necessary, there is nobody onsite to assist you.

Retirement Village

The majority of Retirement Villages provide a large range of facilities with a wide variety of options to suit your requirements. Some retirement villages offer everything from independent living and assisted living to 24 hour nursing and dementia care whereas others will only provide independent living although all should have carers onsite 24 hours a day.  If you do choose a retirement village which only offers independent living, you need to consider that you may well have to move again should you need care in the future. There is only so much care that can be  provided in your apartment, for example if you need nursing care or specialist dementia care.   

Retirement villages offer an extended range of amenities which can include leisure and spa facilities, hair salons, restaurants and bars and provide a readymade community of like-minded people. The settings are attractive with pleasant and well-tended gardens. This all means that you can enjoy your life as it is and get the care you need should the time come.

As with all types of retirement housing, retirement villages do vary and a useful place to start your search for a reputable operator would be the Associated Retirement Community Operators (ARCO). All members of ARCO will have staff onsite 24 hours a day and have to adhere to the ARCO consumer code which is set to maintain high standards and clear and transparent information throughout the sales process.

Conclusion

Today, there are more possibilities and options than ever before for housing in your retirement with the associated pros and cons. When considering what form of housing would suit you in retirement, whether it be moving in with family, sheltered housing, assisted living, a retirement apartment or a retirement village, it is important to keep the future very much in mind.