10 things to look for in a retirement home for your parents

Choosing where to retire shouldn’t be a decision you take lightly.
Camera IconChoosing where to retire shouldn’t be a decision you take lightly. Credit: Choosing where to retire shouldn’t be a decision you take lightly./Getty Images/iStockphoto

All the kids have long left the nest, and now when you visit your parent’s house there seems to be more rooms collecting dust than people living in it. Could this be a sign it’s time for your parents to downsize?

Retirement villages in the past have been stereotyped as a last resort for old people, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Living in a retirement village provides a sense of security and a vibrant community for those who may want to live a more relaxed, low maintenance life, but still enjoy an independent and active lifestyle.

Like any significant changes in life, choosing where to retire shouldn’t be a decision you take lightly. If your parents are thinking about making the move to a retirement village, here are 10 things to consider, to help them find their ideal place to retire.

1. Choose a location that suits their lifestyle

What kind of amenities are nearby and easily accessible? As your parents get older, are they close to health services, shopping centres and public transport? In terms of the property itself, how much maintenance will they be required to do, or is it all managed by someone else? Does the size and layout of the house match their needs?

2. What kind of care is available?

While your parents may be in perfect health right now, it’s important to think about what their future health needs may be. A retirement village is not a nursing home, but home care services can be arranged if required.

3. Get on top of the contract and service fees

Do your due diligence upfront so your parents know exactly what kind of contract they’re signing. Service fees are standard in retirement living as they cover the day to day operational costs. Find out what kind of service fees are involved – particularly if they’re going to live in a serviced apartment, and how often they will need to pay the fees. It’s important to know what your parents can afford, so they don’t get hit with any surprises once they’ve signed on the dotted line.

4. What kind of recreational activities are offered?

What do your parents like to do in their spare time? Does the retirement village cater for their hobbies? Find out what kind of amenities are onsite such as a gym or pool and see if they run any fitness classes or activities. From a social perspective, is there someone who organises outings and excursions so that residents within the community can get together and enjoy each other’s company.

5. What level of security is in place?

Living in a retirement village is probably one of the safest places you could live in. But it pays to know what kind of security measures are in place for your own peace of mind and so your parents will feel safe. Is there plenty of security lighting around the house and village boundary, are there security gates and cameras, or a monitored reception?

6. What’s the policy on visitors?

Find out if there are any restrictions on visitors. How many people can visit at a time, are you allowed to stay at the house when you visit, or do you need to be out by a certain time?

7. Are pets allowed?

Can your parents’ furry friend move in too? Some retirement villages have strict policies around pets, so make sure you do your homework to find a property that is pet friendly.

8. Is it ready to live in?

If your parents are looking to move into an established house, does it need any renovations? And if so, to what extent can you make changes to the property? Are there any building approvals you need to be aware of before you take on any DIY projects around the house?

9. Meet your potential neighbours

The best way for your parents to get a feel for the place they want to retire, is to visit and meet some of the residents firsthand. What do others have to say about living there? Take a tour of the community. Is it clean and well maintained? What are the employees that work there like? Does it seem like the kind of place where they could fit right in with likeminded people?

10. Investigate exit fees

While your parents may not intend to leave anytime soon, their circumstances may change in the future. Make sure they’re aware of any potential exit fees which may be hidden within the terms and conditions they sign. Ensure they fully understand the ramifications of an early exit before they agree to anything.

If your parents are looking to downsize and live their retirement to the fullest, Bethanie offers a variety of lifestyle villages and serviced apartments in Perth for over 55s, where they can be part of a community among friends. Visit the website for locations and to find out more.

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