Don't Wait Too Long to Find a Retirement Community

By Nancy Nolan, Director of Marketing & PR (ret.)

Foulkeways at Gwynedd

Gwynedd, PA 19436



edited 4/2/20

As the Marketing Director at Foulkeways at Gwynedd, one of the most prestigious Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) on the East Coast, the one comment I heard over and over when talking with new residents was, "Why didn't I make this move years earlier"?

We discovered that the very residents who most resisted downsizing to a retirement community, readily perceived how small their worlds had become once they settled into their new homes. Looking back, they realize that the inevitable loss of family and friends due to illness or retirement, declining health issues and a growing sense of isolation and loneliness shrink the very environment that once supported their personal growth and happiness.

Deciding to move to a retirement community is never an easy decision, but postponing the decision can be a costly mistake. Retirement decisions should always be made sooner, rather than later, while the largest number of options are still available. Waiting until declining health conditions limit the number of options available removes decision-making criteria from "best-case-scenarios" to "whatever's-available" during times of need. Waiting until certain health changes, such as ceasing to drive or decreased hearing or mobility support a decision to downsize, can surely be viewed as 'waiting too long.'

Faced with potential isolation and dependence on family, friends and taxis to provide mobility, seniors begin to earnestly research retirement communities -- where transportation is readily available and the close proximity of dining, recreation and social activities decrease the need for assistance. However, instead of selecting a community that best fits their overall needs, seniors who wait too long are often forced to consider a community based on apartment availability rather than overall compatibility.

Many of the prospects we see in a typical week are folks in their mid to late 80's, who are facing declining health issues, and are seeking immediate entry into our community. Foulkeways, like many other retirement communities, has a 'waiting list' of entrants, who are first in-line as apartments and cottages become available. New prospects must work their way to the front of the line. It is never a good idea to wait until your need is immediate. Rather, be proactive and do your homework while the number of communities available to you are the greatest.

Although outdated images of old folks homes continued to fade, a large number of seniors fail to consider the positive aspects of a move to a retirement community, sooner rather than later! Medical studies show that actively engaged mature adults express the greatest sense of fulfillment and experience the highest degree of health benefits when they have the ability to make new friends, learn new skills, pursue life-long hobbies and express creativity in whatever form they choose.

These keys to longevity are truly everyman's fountain of youth. Facing life's unavoidable losses, without the support of a community skilled in providing an environment steeped in caring can also be quite difficult. To thrive in the "second half of their lives," seniors need access to activities that encourage play, creativity, growth and camaraderie. For the newly widowed and the long-time single alike, it is especially important to feel that someone is watching out for their welfare and well-being. A desirable retirement community can provide just such a support system!

Entry requirements vary from community to community. Availability varies from community to community, but peace of mind can be enhanced by choosing a retirement community BEFORE the options run out. Hindsight is amazingly sharp. "If only" continues to be a shared regret of the unfortunately large number of seniors who waited too long to make a decision that so greatly impacts the second half of their lives. Don't fall into the trap of complacency. The time to choose the retirement community that will best support your needs is BEFORE the need arises.

See Seven Myths About Retirement Communities

also, What's The REAL Deal With Retirement Communities? Can You Access Their Important Information?