While making a big decision such as choosing a retirement community might be stress provoking, there is no need to worry! You’ve got this, as you’ve likely done something like it before.

Think about that time in your life when a younger you was searching for, then attending your dream college. Many of us remember those times as exciting, fun, scary, overwhelming … and as some of the best days of our lives. That’s a mixed bag of emotions that looks and feels a lot like how you might feel as you consider making a move to Woodlands.

Many parallels can be drawn between searching for a college and looking for a retirement community. Both are significant decisions with their own set of challenges. Both journeys require careful consideration, research and understanding of your individual needs. Both experiences are also opportunities for growth, self-discovery and finding the perfect fit. Could Woodlands end up being your dream college?

How Will You Decide?

First, one must consider how a decision will be made. Are you approaching a search with a checklist, or will the decision be made based on other factors, such as how a particular community feels to you?

The Ben Franklin approach to decision-making involves simply listing pros and cons and reflecting on them. Sounds easy enough, but if it was, we wouldn’t struggle so much with knowing whether the choice we make is the “right” one.

The problem with a pros and cons list is that every item on the list doesn’t hold the same importance. This is where how you feel about something will impact the weight that it has in your decision. As you review your list, some items will be “deal breakers” and others will be “must haves.” Make sure to identify those items on the list that are most important to you, as that will help you narrow the choices. If you decide to make a visit to Woodlands, bring your list along so that your questions can be answered by Juliette who is very educated in helping you make the best decision.

Get the “Feeling”

A personal tour or visit is important for both a college and a retirement community search. What better way to see if it’s a good fit? Colleges offer prospective students the opportunity to experience the day-to-day life, talk to students, attend a class and have a meal. Retirement communities offer a similar opportunity.

When researching a retirement community, you should try it on for size. Get the full immersive experience to see how it feels. Woodlands offers a wealth of opportunities to grow and learn and meet new and interesting people. Do the activities look like ones you would enjoy? Do the educational offerings interest you? Does the fitness program offer what you want? Juliette can help you discover how full your life at Woodlands can be.

Think about it: At what other times of your life do you really get to make what’s important to you a priority? Your children are grown, you are your own boss and you are free to make your own decisions. It can be fun—no curfews this time around!

Evaluate the Cost

Another common thread between a college and a retirement community is that they both are a significant financial commitment. Although colleges can be paid for in a variety of ways, retirement communities are self-funded. In other words, you don’t borrow money to finance your retirement. On the plus side, now that you are ready to consider a move, you likely will be selling a residence and can use the equity to fund some of the costs of retirement living.

Freeing yourself from the hassles of home maintenance is often a “must have” on many people’s list. The cost of future healthcare is also a consideration. Health insurance, long-term care insurance policies and Medicare only go so far in paying for all the potential expenses. If healthcare costs concern you, then narrow your search to communities that have a built-in plan to contain costs and preserve your assets, such as what Woodlands, a LifeCare Community, offers.

It’s important to understand the details of fees and what they include, as well as what is not included. Also, be sure to look ahead at potential cost increases in the coming years. Like colleges, most retirement communities can give you an idea of what to expect by reviewing the average fee increases over the past few years.

A Big Commitment

Often when faced with big decisions, our inclination is to put off dealing with it as much as possible. The importance we place on making the “right” decision can create a lot of stress, which is something we naturally try to avoid.

At a relatively young age, we are tasked with choosing a life path through our choice of college and field of study. For older adults seeking the perfect fit for their retirement years, the choices and perceived risks may seem equally daunting. Yet, despite the challenges of making a commitment, the reward has big payoffs, such as peace of mind or access to a more purposeful, engaged life.

Family members’ input is important to both the college and retirement community decisions. Yet, while young adults may resist that help when looking for a college, older adults often seek their children’s advice when evaluating retirement communities. The key to the retirement community decision, though, is to make the decision while it is still yours to make.

A Different Lifestyle

When children head off to college, they must learn to do many things on their own. Everyday tasks like doing laundry, cleaning the apartment and preparing some meals become the student’s responsibility. Retirement communities offer the opposite: They give older adults a chance to free themselves from those very same tasks so that time is available to pursue their interests and passions—things that, for many people, had to be put aside while raising a family and earning a living.

It’s Okay to Be Nervous!

Once a decision has been made about a college or a retirement community, it’s natural to feel some trepidation. College students and older adults both are accustomed to their current living situation, so fear of change can be an obstacle for both. You will have many questions without immediate answers. Who will I have dinner with? Will I like my neighbors? Will I fit in?

Just like colleges, retirement communities offer a wealth of supportive services designed to ease the transition. You’ll have the chance to meet fellow residents, try out dining venues, attend events and review the handbook, enabling you to familiarize yourself with the community. For most people, within a few weeks of moving in their new residence feels like home, and they’ve started making new friends. Be ready to jump in and have some fun!

Next Steps

Searching for the right retirement community is a worthy pursuit. While it can take a good bit of research and consideration, the search for retirement living can ensure that well-being and happiness is secured for a lifetime. Forge your path to a successful retirement by contacting Juliette at 304-697-1620 today and register for your “freshman orientation” at Woodlands on September 21! Come ask questions, meet residents and picture the sense of community that can be yours. Your future self will be happy you did!

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