Choose a retirement community suited to your needs


There's a common perception that retirement is a relaxing time, free from the worries of work and raising a family. While some seniors sail into retirement, others experience stress around the family move, especially as they research transitional living options.

Money management, health issues, and the loss of friends or loved ones can also take their toll, which is why stress management remains an important goal.

For some, the best choice for a more stress-free retirement is a move to a less complicated living situation in a community created especially for seniors.

Amenities, activities, programs and services are different from one place to another, so research is a good idea. Seniors considering a move should think about the things of most importance to them.

For many, meals are at the top of the list. Is there a dining room, a cafeteria, a different menu every day?

A good diet can also provide the nutrition a person needs to maintain overall health. Some seniors, empty nesters, and smaller families sometimes decide to retire from meal planning and simply eat the same foods for multiple days to avoid wasting leftovers. Living in a community can improve the variety in a person's diet. Ask about the dining situation, whether you prefer to dine in a large room with others or take meals in your own space.

Exercise goes hand-in-hand with nutrition as a major factor in maintaining good health. Senior communities can provide advantages here too, including indoor exercise spaces and safe, well-maintained equipment.

Ask about fitness centers, classes and other services that are available at the community. Are coaches or trainers available to discuss an exercise regimen suited to the individual? Is there a swimming pool onsite or nearby?

One significant lifestyle change that addresses many stressors for seniors is downsizing. Homes of all sizes can be expensive to maintain, upkeep becomes more physically demanding, and staying in a home after the loss of a loved one can affect the lifestyle of a surviving spouse.

Retirement communities can offer living spaces of different sizes, suitable for many lifestyles, for singles and couples. Ask about layout options, move-in assistance and housekeeping services.

Ultimately, companionship and interaction with others are powerful tools in combatting stress and maintaining good health. Ask about group and individual activities, both onsite and in the greater community, as well as rules about companion animals.

Visit each community you are considering and talk with residents and staff members. Chances are good that if they are happy there, you will be happy too.

J.R. Jimenez is the community manager for Okatie Pines, a new senior community in Okatie.

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