When choosing a retirement facility, it’s important to look beyond the marketing and do your own research. Marketwatch.com recently shared “10 Things Retirement Communities Won’t Tell You” (August 10, 2014). Here are a few:


  1. There are many kinds of communities, from active adult to continuing-care. Make sure you recognize the differences and understand which is best for you and your situation.
  2. Not all communities have doctors (or even nurses) on site.
  3. Fancy décor may not be representative of the day-to-day experience. Visiting at different times of day and eating a meal at the facility will help you to see what life is really like for residents.
  4. Salespeople (and contracts) don’t always mention rising costs.
  5. Assisted-living facilities could ask a resident to leave if they believe his or her “needs can’t be met.”


TIAA-CREF offers more detailed tips that can assist you in finding the right retirement facility for you or your loved one.


Perhaps the most important step is to determine the level of care you or your loved one currently needs—and will need in the future. When evaluating a facility, it is important that you consider the availability of medical services and staff, the ratio of staff to residents, the security and safety of the facility, and any past complaints that may have been filed against the facility.


Next, arrange for a facility visit. This step is crucial for looking past the glossy brochures and actually experiencing what it would be like to live there. Observe the maintenance and upkeep of the facility and grounds. Also, take note of the activities and meals available for residents. What is the quality of life? Are residents able to make their own decisions and live an independent, private life?


Finally, given all the emotions tied up in this decision, it helps to stay focused. Having the right resources can help ease the burden.


Are you considering a retirement facility for your or a loved one? What factors are important to you?