New LifeStyles - Northern New England

Fall/Winter 2014

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2 UNDERSTANDING YOUR OPTIONS One of the most challenging and important decisions you can make is to choose where and how you want to live in retirement. Consider what you might require for future health care needs, the proximity of your family, and then assess your choices. Today there are more options than ever, and it is important to take the time to understand what those options are. The following five tips are helpful to keep in mind. DEFINE YOUR NEEDS Are you independent and able to life safely on your own? Are you interested in a lifestyle that lets you spend less time managing your house, and more time traveling or getting involved in new interests and activities? If so, joining a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) might be right for you, where you can live independently, but have the promise of care, if and when you need it, right in the same community. Do you need help with daily activities, such as medication management, bathing, dressing, etc? If so, then Assisted Living communities will offer you the medical and care support so that you can enjoy your time, knowing that you have the peace of mind that comes with nursing care. KICK THE TIRES Identify a number of communities that fit your needs, and ask for information, or check their websites. Narrow down a few to visit, and schedule ample time for a tour of the apartments, common areas and grounds. Do they look well-maintained and fresh? What is the staff to resident ratio? Are people friendly and do the residents seen happy? Make sure to have a meal in the dining room, preferably with residents. If possible, visit each community two or three times so that you get a better glimpse of the culture. RUN THE NUMBERS Make sure to examine the contract closely, to understand what the monthly fee covers, and what is additional, so you understand your costs – including how costs change when you shift between Independent, Assisted, or Skilled Nursing levels of care. Compare this to your actual current monthly costs, including your taxes, utilities, lawn/plowing/cleaning service costs, etc. Ask the facility to project out what your spending would be throughout your lifetime, and review that with your financial advisor. INVOLVE KEY PEOPLE Once you have narrowed the list of organizations, or earlier on in the process, bring your family or friends with you to see the community, to get their input and see if they have questions you haven't considered. Ask your financial planner or attorney to review the contract and financing. VERIFY THEIR REPUTATION This is a big decision, so you will want to know a lot about the organization you are choosing. Is the company a not-for-profit, or a for-profit? Is it locally managed or part of a large organization? Request the organization's last 3 – 4 years of audited financials, yearly increases, and occupancy percentages, to understand their financial track record. Review the members of their board of trustees, and management. Ask for any accreditation information on the organization. Most importantly, ask current residents for their opinion. By picking up this guide, you have already started doing your homework – give yourself time, ask the questions, and involve trusted advisors, and you will be on your way to making an informed decision. Cathleen Toomey is Vice President of Marketing for RiverWoods, a nationally- accredited not-for-profit Continuing Care Retirement Community in Exeter, New Hampshire. Founded by residents for residents in 1994, RiverWoods is an independent community with three distinct campuses, on 200 wooded acres, offering independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing within each campus, so residents enabling residents to transition as their needs change, without leaving the community.

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