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istock_000015142940xsmallIt’s not always easy to make a decision about when to make the move to a retirement community. It can be easy to ignore signs that you need additional help, or to recognize when a loved one is aging. That’s why it’s important to assess you or a loved one’s situation honestly, while looking at all the many factors involved. You’ll want to be sure that you or your loved one understands how such a move will affect your retirement plan financially, how it will meet your medical needs, and how it can positively affect your social life and sense of independence.

The first piece you should plan for is how moving to a retirement community will affect your financial plan for retirement. You may not have anticipated a rapid health decline, accident, or a prolonged illness, for example, that has made assisted living or memory care necessary earlier than you thought. You may also be pleasantly surprised, however, to find that selling off assets like a house or moving to a part of the country with a lower cost of living have a positive impact on your finances. While many people assume living in a retirement community is an expensive proposition, it can actually even out when you look at the whole picture of assets, medical expenses, in-home care, transportation, etc.

You should also be honest with yourself about the level of care that you need. While many choose to move to a retirement community before it’s a medical necessity, and choose communities that can transition with them as they age, some wait until they already need assisted living or memory care. This can sometimes make it harder to admit that you have trouble remembering to take medication, or struggle to prepare meals. It’s not easy to see yourself or a loved one struggling with daily tasks, or to admit that it’s time for a big change. However, the beauty of retirement communities is just how much they can transform lives for the better once you make the leap.

Finally, you should consider how you enjoy spending your time, and what you’d like your lifestyle to be. Consider the activities you participate in, and how you enjoy socializing. A retirement community can make it easier to see friends and loved ones, and to avoid the isolation of living alone. If you have struggled with feelings of loneliness or have had a hard time going out because of issues with hygiene or mobility, a senior living community could be just what you need to get more out of life.

The most important thing to remember when considering senior care is to see the communities you are considering for what they are, and to check your preconceived notions at the door. We all have internalized ideas about aging and retirement homes that may affect the way we make decisions regarding senior care and how we see aging. The best thing you can do for yourself or a loved one is to try to view each factor objectively, while being honest about your needs and means. This will help you make great choices that will make the most of your retirement savings while improving your quality of life.