With changing times come new challenges. And new challenges require us to break the old rules and mindset and think differently.
It is now time that older Indians seriously start considering moving into retirement communities. With children and family spread around the world and infrastructure and general support being poor, the thought of moving into a retirement community should not be anathema to us anymore. However, finding a good retirement community that not only meets your needs today but will be able to take care of you as you age is not easy. Here are 5 things you need to consider when reviewing a retirement community:
Find a retirement community that is in your home state – this will eliminate a lot of language and cultural issues. Look for homes that are not too remote, have temperate climate through out the year (warmer better than cooler as you age, so if you have to decide between a place that gets hot in summer versus one that gets cold in winter, go with the former), have good hospitals and medical facilities nearby, in proximity to a city and well connected by road, rail and air.
2. Real estate vs. real service
Many real estate companies position their new properties as retirement communities as a way of finding new customers. These companies are neither geared to build apartments that are suitable for senior citizens not are they capable of running retirement homes efficiently. Once you have bought your home, they will leave you to fend for yourself.
When looking for a retirement community choose an organization that has a track record in running retirement homes. Find out what plans they have in terms of continued operations. Preferably choose one that is already operational so that you can see them in action before committing. The services that they offer should include general maintenance, house keeping, laundry services, food and kitchen services, medical attention and services, and completed assisted living services (even if you don’t need many of these services yet).
3. Privacy and activities
Where budgets allow, always choose homes that balance your privacy and social activity nicely. Neither secluded apartments nor dormitory style accommodation is suitable. Ideally singles should have studio apartments and couple should have a 1 or 2-bedroom apartment with a functional kitchen. This way, you can choose solitude when you want.
Additionally, the retirement community should provide sufficient social activity so that residents can be active, make new friends and enjoy each others’ company. In later years, loneliness is the biggest enemy.
4. Price point and models
Many retirement communities provide options to outright purchase apartments, lease long and short term as well as rental options. Each of these have their pros and cons and you should consider each of these options carefully before deciding what is right for you. Also remember, there is one other cost component which is the monthly maintenance cost. Depending on the services you take on, this could be anywhere between Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 1,00,000. Typical services include general maintenance, house keeping, laundry services, kitchen services, medical assistance and complete assisted living and there is cost associated with each of these services.
It is actually quite amazing how many different services we need to lead a normal life. And since you are likely to be in a gated community, it is important that all these services are available to you when you need them. More of the services a retirement community provides, the better for you. A typical list of services provided should include all or most of the following:
In the apartment
Studio Apartment/One Bedroom Apartment/Two Bedroom Apartment
Emergency Call System
Private Dining Room
TV and Media Room
24 Hour Staffing
Full-Time Activity Director
Personal Transportation Provided
Three Meals Daily
Transportation to Medical Appointments
Physical therapy, Occupational therapy, and Speech therapy
Guest/visitor stay facilities
On top of it all, you should have all the freedom you deserve. You should be able to order and eat what you want (within your own dietary limitations), have access to non-vegetarian dishes (if you are non-veg), have the ability to travel out without restrictions, leave on extended vacations if you so wish (while your apartment is taken care of), have access to a bar/alcohol if you wish, have people visit you without restriction and so on.
Moving into a retirement community is the second best thing to having your family around you all the time. Retirement communities can help you lead a productive and active life and your children will know you have access to all the care that you need.