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Categories > Retirement > Planning for retirement

The comforts of home: Three options to preserve independence and gain security
Retirement communities
Assisted-living homes
Continuing-care retirement communities


How to choose
How to choose

The most important part of choosing a housing option is matching your needs with a facility’s services. Make sure you know what services you are looking for before you contact a facility. Here are some questions to ask during your tour:

  • Can furniture and other personal items be brought from home?
  • What exactly is included in the fee?
  • Are any recreational activities scheduled?
  • Are Medicare and Medicaid accepted?
  • What’s the visiting schedule?

Also, see if you can talk to current residents and find out how satisfied they are with the establishment.

Sometimes people reach a point where they can’t do the things they used to do— like drive a car, clean the house, climb the stairs or prepare meals. When that happens, several housing options can help meet people’s changing needs while fostering independence and offering support.

If you or someone you live with is struggling with activities that were once routine or has trouble coping with a chronic illness, a seniors-only residence may be the answer.

Retirement communities

Margaret and her husband, Pete, lived in their two-story home for 50 years. But Margaret’s worsening arthritis made it harder for her to carry groceries, and household maintenance was becoming a burden for Pete. So the couple, avid golfers and bridge players, decided to move to a retirement community.

A retirement development is perfect for active adults, like Margaret and Pete, who desire a community environment where meals are shared and outings to shopping centers, museums and other attractions are scheduled. Although these communities don’t focus on healthcare, they may offer health services in a comprehensive package that also includes security and housekeeping.

Assisted-living homes

The social aspects of a retirement community appealed to Eve, a widow in her 70s. But she suffered from high blood pressure and diabetes that were often out of control (mostly because she often forgot to take her medication). She required more attentive healthcare than retirement communities provide, so Eve chose an assisted-living home.

Also known as personal-care homes, assisted-living facilities are similar to retirement developments. But in addition to the shared meals and housekeeping, assisted-living facilities also provide personal services, such as help managing medications, bathing, grooming and dressing. Some assisted-living homes are actual houses that care for a handful of seniors while others house many adults in an institutional setting.

Continuing-care retirement communities

A lifelong bachelor, Harold was beginning to worry about his future. Newly diagnosed with heart failure, he knew there would be times when he might not be able to care for himself. As it was, he tired easily and wasn’t as vigorous as he once was.

A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) turned out to be a good fit for Harold. CCRCs combine three levels of care—independent living, assisted living and nursing-home care—in a single setting. So the facility was well equipped to handle Harold’s changing needs. But what appealed to him most was that the CCRC offered the warmth and services of a retirement community in addition to the security of long-term healthcare. Now Harold feels safe and well-cared for in his new home.