Am I Ready to Move?
friends may offer well-meaning advice, but in the end, seniors need to
decide when and where to move, says RenŤe Anderson, president and CEO
of St. Johnís on the Lake in Milwaukee. "Otherwise they wonít
director of operations for Cedar Community in West Bend, says heís
never encountered a resident who regretted the decision to move.
"The comment I always hear is ĎI wish I would have done this
Even if you donít
feel ready, Adele Lund, director of business and community relations
with the Laureate Group in Waukesha, says itís best to start your
research early. "Donít wait for a crisis."
2. Is the
Community in Good Standing?
Do your due
diligence before moving. Know who owns and manages the community, and
how long itís been in existence. Anderson suggests asking for a copy
of the facilityís financial statements to ensure the economic health
of the organization.
stability is important," Williams says. "Youíre making a
long-term investment and you want to make sure the organization is
it Going to Cost?
Have a thorough
understanding of your contract before you commit. Learn what monthly
fees do and donít include. If you need to transfer to a higher level
of care, how will that impact monthly fees? If the retirement
community charges an entry fee, make sure you understand why and what
portion, if any, will be refunded, and when.
In short, find
out what youíre getting for your money, Williams says.
4. What is
There to Do?
Seek out a
retirement community that will keep you engaged. Ask about social,
educational and wellness activities. Does the staff plan outings to
venues beyond the facility grounds?
you enrich your life since youíll have more free time?"
cautions seniors not to limit recreational activities to their current
interests. "Consider taking up a new hobby," he says.
"Make sure the organization offers plenty of opportunities."
the Surrounding Community Like?
seniors, geography plays a major role in choosing a retirement
community, Lund says. According to one national study, seniors
typically move within one to three miles of their former residence.
caught up with wanting to stay in an area where theyíre
comfortable," Williams says.
While you may
prefer to be near family and friends, or favorite hangouts, Anderson
points out that as seniors age, their mobility often is more limited.
"Consider how youíll access activities in the outside
community," she says. "How will you get to the theater, the
pharmacy or the grocery store? Is transportation provided?"
6. What Are
the People Like?
How do you know
youíll fit in? Start with a tour. "Observe who you encounter
during your tour," Williams says. "Do employees smile and
greet you? Do residents seem friendly?"
communities allow prospective residents to "try before they
trial stays so you can see what itís really like," says Biller
Bauerband, director of marketing and sales for Newcastle Place,
Mequon. "You can take a meal, try an activity and meet other
7. What if My
Health Needs Change?
hard for active seniors to envision a time when theyíll need more
intensive medical care, itís an important consideration. "Are
you OK with multiple moves as your health needs change?" asks
Bauerband. "Or do you want to move one time?"
If itís the
latter, continuing care retirement communities are the only type of
senior community that offers independent living, assisted living and
skilled nursing care on a single campus.
all areas of a community," Anderson says. "You may never
need those services, but if you do, you want to make sure youíll be
comfortable and receive quality care." m
Recently Ruth Witt heard another resident at Cedar Community in
West Bend complain that there were too many things on the
retirement communityís activity calendar.
activity coordinator told her she could pick and choose,"
says Witt. "But my friend said that was the problem. She
didnít want to choose."
activities is one of Wittís few worries since she moved to
Cedar Community 18 months ago. A lifelong Milwaukee resident,
Witt became familiar with the West Bend retirement community
while visiting another resident. When her husband passed away in
2011, Witt realized taking care of a house was too much.
didnít want to stay in the house by myself," she says.
"Now I donít have to worry about the furnace or the
air-conditioner or the sump pump."
her sons living out of state, geography didnít factor into
Wittís decision on where to live. Although she currently has
an apartment in Cedar Communityís independent living sector,
Witt likes that continuing phases of care are available on site.
no family nearby to keep an eye on me," she says.
"Here, thereís always help close by."
settling in at Cedar Community was an easy transition, Witt
admits that learning her way around West Bend took some time.
"I got lost a few times at first, but then I got my map out
and really studied it," she says.
moving to Cedar Community, Witt hasnít wasted any time getting
involved. She takes part in a book club, volunteers for the
library and serves as a floor representative. This summer, sheíll
also tend half a garden ó a 20-by-10-foot plot that she shares
with another resident.
was born and raised with a German work ethic," she says.
"I have to be active. I canít just sit in the sun."
Lois Pittman began to seriously consider moving to a retirement
community after her husband, Noy, broke his hip in 2011.
time, the Brookfield couple still lived in the two-story home
where they had raised nine children. But as they aged in place,
they found it harder to keep up with routine home maintenance.
hired people to plow and mow the lawn, but it was too much for
us," says Lois, who is 86.
who recently turned 90, confined to a walker and unable to climb
stairs, the decision to move became much easier.
I first approached my husband, I didnít think he would agree
to it at all," says Lois. But Noy knew because of his
health it was the right thing to do.
moved to Heritage Place, an independent living community in
Brookfield, last June and they couldnít be happier.
was a very easy transition ó even for my husband," says
Lois. "We felt at home immediately."
seniors, the Pittmans chose Heritage Place because they were
already familiar with the surrounding community and it was close
to their children.
of our daughters live within two blocks of us, and another is
just two miles down the road," says Lois.
a large family nearby, the Pittmans entertain visitors nearly
every day. As a result, they donít often take part in the
social activities Heritage Place offers, but Lois appreciates
the amenity nonetheless.
youíre an active person, there is something to do here every
day," she says.
Lois and Noy appreciate most is their carefree lifestyle.
have no worries other than ourselves and our health," says