How to Find the Right Senior Living Option? Prioritize.

Prioritizing Your Future
When you think about your future and your changing needs as you age, what options come to mind? Staying in your current home and hoping for the best? Leaning on family members for help if you need it? Moving to a senior living community? If so, what kind – and where?

The 2017 Aging in Cities Survey, commissioned by Welltower Inc, asked millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers in major cities across North America to think about what’s important to them now and how they see their living preferences changing as they move into their 80s and beyond. And while the survey focused on people living in a large city, the results can be useful if you’re wondering how to plan for your future or where to retire.

Thinking through some of these questions now can help you determine what’s important so you can make the most informed decision about how and where to spend your retirement years.

What About Future Care?
People are living longer, and health needs tend to increase as we age. In fact, 70% of people age 65+ will need some type of long-term care at some point. So it stands to reason that high-quality health care is by far the highest priority for all adults surveyed. It beat out the other categories by 20 percentage points. Yet 37% of respondents are worried about not being able to get the care they need. Dementia care is a concern for 66%, and many say their cities need more options for getting it.

The survey didn’t address health care priorities as related to senior living communities. But one reason many seniors choose a senior living community is because they know they’ll have priority access to a full range of services if they ever need it. They don’t have to worry about finding care in a crisis, and they know how much that care will cost.

Ask Yourself

  • How confident are you that you’ll have access to high-quality health care when you’re 80+?
  • Do you know what your long-term care options are in your area?
  • Do you know how much long-term care will cost? (For some cost comparisons, see Can I Afford Senior Housing?)

Where Do You Want to Live?
When asked about where they see themselves living as older adults, 69% percent of all surveyed adults – and 80% of the Baby Boomers – say they want to stay in their current home or neighborhood when they’re older. They love the richness of city life, citing entertainment, cultural and outdoor recreation options, as well as the chance to meet and socialize with other people as reasons for its appeal.

While some expressed a preference for staying in their own homes, 81% of all respondents say they’re open to the idea of living in an urban senior living community.

Today’s senior living communities offer the same options that respondents find appealing, so it’s not surprising that there’s growing interest in this particular retirement living choice.

Ask Yourself

  • Where do you see yourself living when you’re 80+ years old? In a city, suburban or rural setting? In the same house/neighborhood, or are you open to relocating?
  • What kinds of activities and entertainment are important to you? How accessible will they be for you in a few years if you stay where you are?
  • Is it important to meet and socialize with other people as you age? What opportunities will you have to do so in the near future if you stay where you are?

How Will You Stay Connected?
Relationships matter, not only to your social well-being, but to your overall health. Social circles can shrink as you age, and that can have serious consequences for older adults.

Survey respondents are mindful of the need to be connected to others. Eight out of 10 say it will be important to make new friends when they’re 80+. And 7 out of 10 say the ability to meet new people is a key factor in deciding where to live.

They’re also thinking about ways to avoid loneliness as they age. What are they looking for?

  • A variety of activities and events
  • Places to gather with friends, family, grandchildren
  • Social and cultural activities

Ask Yourself

  • How socially connected am I now? Do I interact with friends and family more than just once or twice a week?
  • If I stay where I am, what opportunities will I have to make new friends?
  • Will I have easy access to social and cultural activities or events that keep me connected to others?

A smart plan for your future starts with figuring out what matters most. Make a list of what your priorities are – then you can take the necessary steps toward building the retirement life you really want.

See the full Aging in Cities infographic here.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
2017 Aging in Cities Survey, Welltower