3 Reasons for early entry to a retirement village

By Harper Banks

Your parents may envision their golden years on the porch of your childhood home. But it’s good to remind them about the additional costs of getting older, and the implications for the home they occupy.

We have a look at three benefits of joining a retirement village sooner rather than later, and we consider why your parents, or any older relatives, may be reluctant to take this step.

Tip: Start preparing for your retirement years today – open a retirement fund.

The financial benefits of moving to a senior residence

According to Barry Kaganson, CEO of Auria Senior Living, there are three clear benefits when imminent retirees move into a senior living community.

  1. Their biggest expense is de-risked

Owning a home always comes with expenses. Most retirees are no longer servicing a home loan, but there can still be significant costs attached to insurance, maintenance, and repairs – not to mention the hassle factor.

If your parents move to a “life rights” community, this will ensure they have a home for the remainder of their lives, and they won’t sit with unpredictable costs that can wreak havoc on a limited budget.

  1. On-site services and healthcare are more affordable

One of the benefits of moving to a senior living community is the fact that so many services can be accessed on-site. A variety of healthcare providers, such as doctors, physiotherapists, and biokineticists are generally available within each community.

Tailored fitness and wellness programmes are also available, along with lifestyle services, such as hairdressers and coffee shops, and various entertainment and dining options.

Aside from these services being quick and easy to reach, residents are able to benefit from economies of scale. In other words, their costs can be kept reasonable and predictable because of the combined demand for services.

  1. Greater savings are possible with an earlier move

Your parents need to plan for, and time their move, carefully, if they wish to guarantee a spot in their preferred community.

Once in their village of choice, their living costs will be fixed, resulting in greater savings and financial certainty.  

Why imminent retirees may be reluctant to move  

According to Kaganson, there is an understandable reluctance to realistically picture how the retirement stage of our lives may look. “There is also an unfortunate lack of information in the market about the options available,” he says.

“For most, the notion of a nursing home or old age home is simply not something they want to contemplate. It is, however, an outdated model of living.”  

Kaganson explains that you don’t need to be retired to live in a senior living community, nor do you need to be at a stage where you need care.

“You simply need to be a person who wants to grow older in a hassle-free, managed environment with a vibrant social life and hospitality services, where you know that comprehensive care is available, should you need it,” he says.

In the absence of helpful information about the alternatives, people tend to fall into five broad categories when they make decisions about their senior years.

  1. I’m not going anywhere

This group doesn’t even want to contemplate the idea of moving. Perhaps they currently have a good quality of life and don’t believe they need to worry about it changing in the near future. They may hope that they will live happily in their existing homes until the end.

While this isn’t completely out of the realm of possibility, it’s fairly unlikely. Other options need to be considered.

  1. I’ll outsource everything I need

This group realises that they will probably need a degree of assistance with certain things as they get older. However, they reason that when that time comes, they will get someone to come to their current home.  

While this can work well for servicing the garden or getting the house cleaned, it may be less effective for managing health needs.

If your parents are advocates of this route, they need to find out which home healthcare services are available in their area and look carefully into cost, reliability, and competence.

  1. I’ll move in with my children

This has traditionally been a good option in many societies, and it can work well for certain families. However, this may not play out quite as planned. 

You may not have the space to accommodate your parents, or the time to help them or keep them company, as you may lead a busy life with a family of your own.  

  1. I’ll wait until I need to move

Your parents may not see the need to move until circumstances dictate. The situation may be easy enough if, for example, their house is now too big for them. But it may also be difficult, such as would be the case with a growing health crisis.

Dire scenarios in particular are best avoided because they inevitably mean that the options will be limited. A sudden scramble to find the right environment – a suitable location, at the right price, with the appropriate care – will seldom yield optimal results.

  1. I’ll plan to move to a retirement community

This is by far the best option. Retirement villages are plentiful in South Africa. However, they are not all created equal.

The best option is known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). This offers a continuum of care ranging from completely independent living to as much assistance as a person needs.

Gold-standard CCRC's offer superb quality of life by providing the correct balance of factors. This includes a safe environment, elegantly designed hospitality services, good health and wellness programmes, social contact, meaningful activities, and access to medical assistance, all with the support of professional staff and carers.

Make sure you’re ready for your own retirement – start saving for your golden years today.

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