Is Moving to a Retirement Home Good?
Do you know what earth balling a tree is?
Earth balling a tree is the digging it out from the earth, in a circular shape, leaving most of its root system undisturbed and intact, and moving it to a predetermined place.
In more ways than one, earth balling a tree is very similar to moving to a retirement home.
First: It is done with good intentions;
Second: It requires uprooting an entire root system;
Third: Both are done after very careful consideration, evaluation and consultation to make sure the activity satisfies all the parties involved.
Moving to a retirement home requires no less amount of careful consideration, consultation, and evaluation because it can have very grave and irreversible repercussions.
According to the AARP, 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes. Of these, about 5% are thinking of moving to a retirement home (U.S. Bureau of Census), while another 5%, into nursing homes.
Someday, some of those in the 90% bracket will ask themselves, “Is moving to a retirement home good?”
Unfortunately, they could never have a good definitive answer unless they are prevailed upon by their children. In which case, they just have to learn to live with it.
But if the choice is for them to make, they must be given some guidance to arrive at a good decision, avoid costly mistakes and a lifetime of regrets.
This four-point guide can do that. This will guide them to do just that.
1. Is it good (or bad)?
Good or bad is all a matter or perception. What is good for one, may be bad for another.
Find out for yourself by doing an ocular inspection. Before you do, make a checklist of the things you expect from the retirement home and prepare to ask questions from its administrator and residents.
It will give you a good idea what you are going into. Don’t expect to have everything. That is asking too much. Settle for its degree of conformance to your expectations. Besides, you can adjust to its shortfalls after a while.
Never be sold by its beautiful website or sweet-talking sales reps.
Even if it is highly recommended by family, friends or acquaintances, you must still check it out to have a good feel of what could possibly be your home the rest of your retirement days.
2. Can I afford it?
Retirement homes come in all shapes, sizes, and costs. And they are everywhere.
For example, in Iowa, a retirement home costs an average of $2,247.00 a month, while in Florida, $2,545.00. Hawaii is good if your monthly income is as large as its waves.
Depending on the location, these costs may cover everything, or just for basic services. Be sure to check any hidden or incidental expenses.
Some may ask several months advance, while you can move in in others. They may come fully-furnished, or bare.
For safety reasons, a lot are gated, which means additional fees for security services.
Will you buy a unit, or rent?
Some retirees, those with half-a-million dollars to spare, buy retirement condos. If you are in the same league, you may buy one, too.
While buying or leasing have inherent advantages and disadvantages, over the long haul, retirement experts suggest that leasing is better than buying.
Either way, they also suggest, make sure no more than a third of your monthly income goes to house maintenance expenses. Spending beyond that is going to compromise your quality of life.
3. What services will I get?
Retirement homes, unlike assisted living facilities, are not obliged to provide health services to its residents. If they do, there is a cap to the amount. Check this out to make sure you will be on the safe side.
Another cost item to consider is the frequency of incremental increases, like meal and service fees, a retirement home charges its residents. The Advocacy Center for the Elderly suggests that you should know this to avoid future unpleasant surprises.
4. Do I need a lawyer:
Of course, you do – a good one, too.
Wading through the fine prints of a contract may be too much for you, especially if you failing eyesight, declining cognitive functions and totally ignorant of the intricacies of a contract.
Lawyers are trained to go through legalistic language and the seemingly alien points of a contract. Your lawyer can make sure you get what is promised, i.e., payment details, housing and care needs, meal frequency and quality, housekeeping, etc.
However, be sure he is not only good as a lawyer but of his character as a person, as well. Some lawyers have been involved in elderly financial exploitation.
I live in a culture of strong familial ties and social support where moving to a retirement home is very rare; even unheard of. In fact, it is frowned upon as a sign of elderly disrespect or abandonment.
I cannot say the same of elderly people in other cultures where such ties and support are not as strong as mine. Some of them will face the possibility of moving to a retirement home in the later parts of their retirement life.
When that time comes, they will have to make that decision. It is not an easy one to make because, by and large, once made, there is no turning back and the consequences, if any, are irreversible.
So think well, and think good.
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