Expert Interview: Retirement Living Facilities

Not all retirement facilities are created equal. And every retiree has unique needs if they wish to enjoy their retirement.

retirement home

Food service might not be at the top of your list, but it is a big contributor to your quality of life.

From special diets to activities to healthcare, we talked to Charlotte Clarke of Ontario’s Luther Village On The Park to find out about retirement living facilities.

What are some things a new retiree should keep in mind when deciding whether to purchase or rent their accommodations in a retirement facility?

There are a number of factors for a new retiree to keep in mind to help them find the most ideal retirement facility.

  • Whether or not you’ve already owned a home, or have sufficient funds to support a purchase. If you don’t want to make a purchase, Life Lease is a nice compromise between owning and renting. It is the right to occupy the home without actual ownership. Life Lease eliminates all of the hassles of a real estate transaction while keeping all of the benefits of ownership, including equity sharing.
  • Your care needs – Do you want a few extra support services, which can be brought in while in Life Lease accommodation, or the full range of support available in an assisted living rental?
  • Whether you want to make a financial investment and gain in property value, or are seeking to be free from longer-term financial commitments.
  • With ownership, an individual needs to be a bit more forward-thinking in their planning. Relocating and additional moves are not as easy when you own rather than rent, in which you can give notice and within 30 days be free of your commitment.
  • Owning can have up-front associated costs, such as closing costs, lawyer fees, etc. These are avoided with Life Lease, but in general are associated with other types of purchasing.
  • With ownership, you can often benefit financially over time as the investment continues to gain value in the market.

How is the food at retirement facilities? How might a new retiree go about finding a retirement facility with the best food?

Word-of-mouth advice is one of the most powerful and useful sources of information, so new retirees should consult with their facility to assess their options. They can also arrange a tour to try the food, or request a copy of the menu cycle.

One thing to keep in mind when considering the food at retirement facilities is that sodium is a concern for many older adults, so the food can sometimes seem kind of bland. At Luther Village on the Park, our chefs strive to liven up the recipes with other spices. We feature two meal choices as well as options for diabetics and people with food allergies. We use fresh and local ingredients when possible.

We also have meetings six times a year to determine how things are going in the Dining Room and respond to resident feedback.

Can you give an example of some of the different activities that happen at retirement facilities?

There can be a lot of different kinds of activities at retirement living facilities, including fitness workouts, movies, day trips, arts, crafts, woodworking, sports, lectures, and dinners. Activities can be conducted onsite or off.

Onsite activities help to bolster a facility feel by bringing activities to the retirees’ doorsteps.

Luther Village on the Park has many active residents who organize a lot of their own activities and committees, including gardening, library, and sports.

What are some issues people with health issues might keep in mind when finding the right accommodations in a retirement facility?

Retirees with physical limitations should consider not only whether or not the building is physically accessible, but also if the communication is easy to see or hear. Retirees should also investigate the proximity to other local attractions like shopping malls, pharmacies, theaters, etc.

One of the most important considerations is if the staff has a person-centered care approach, meaning each resident is treated with dignity and care and their input is requested and honored in their healthcare choices. They should also consider if there are healthcare services located onsite and nearby (ie, doctors, a wellness centre, hospitals, CCAC, or massage therapy).

Lastly, when investigating a retirement living facility, the retiree should consider if they’ll be able to age in one place. When there is a continuum of services in place, there is a smoother transition if the health status changes.

How much have retirement facilities changed in the last 20 years, either positively or negatively?

As with everything, it probably depends on the facility.

  • On one hand, we’re seeing a lot more active and engaged living facilities. On the other, the average age of retirement facility residents is rising, leading to less active involvement.
  • The continuum of healthcare is another change, giving retirees more and better options of staying in one retirement facility.
  • There’s been an increasing focus on higher-end facilities, so we’re seeing a lot more beautiful grounds and world-class services.
  • Due to the increased average age of residents, there is a greater emphasis placed on high class healthcare.
  • The rising costs of both healthcare and services are causing the average cost to increase.

What are some of the top misconceptions about living in a retirement facility that you’d like to address?

  • The first one, of course, is that retirement living is boring and isolating. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Retirement communities allow for socializing and activities every day, easily and accessibly.
  • People are sometimes concerned they will become limited to living in the retirement community. There are many ways to continue to engage in the wider community. Many residents who live in retirement communities continue to join outside committees, travel, etc.
  • There are concerns that it is expensive. It is important to add up all the costs of living within and without a facility when making a comparison, since retirement living is more of an all-inclusive model which includes rent, food, activities, nursing, etc.

What are some mental and emotional incentives for a new retiree to consider moving into a retirement facility?

Mental:

  • Peace of mind and a reduction of stress from many former responsibilities being taken care of
  • Enjoying life and not having to spend all their time cooking and cleaning
  • With eating better also comes better nutrition, so that they feel better overall.
  • Social engagement is one of the best things for one’s health. This is what people have access to in a retirement home.

Emotional:

  • Peaceful, stable, attractive environment
  • Security, companionship, engagement

Retirement answers

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