What Is A Retirement Home And Is It The Right Choice For You?
March 21st, 2023
Thinking ahead to life after retirement is an important next step. The cut and thrust of daily life will begin to slow down, freeing up more time to enjoy hobbies or simply rest and relax. It’s natural to want to find a place you feel completely comfortable in and to think about any practical help you might need as you move into the next phase of life.
There are many options to look at, including retirement homes and eventually care homes, and both come with their own pros and cons. Here we take a look at what a retirement home is, whether it’s the right choice for you, and the alternatives available.
What is a Retirement Home?
A retirement home refers to a living arrangement for people aged 55 or over. Looking after a large family home when older can be burdensome, and the purpose of a retirement home is to provide a comfortable and enjoyable space for seniors to live independently, maintain an active social life, and have easy access to support when needed.
The term retirement home is often used interchangeably. In actual fact, there are a few different types of retirement homes, each with their own benefits and goals.
1. Retirement Villages
A retirement home can also be known as a retirement village. These villages are often purpose-built and have a range of on-site facilities, such as restaurants, health clubs, or hair salons. They offer a more luxurious style of living and have staff on hand to take care of any maintenance, such as home repairs or gardening.
Retirement villages usually consist of several types of accommodation, including houses, bungalows and apartments. They will all be on the same complex with access to the same facilities, but give you a choice of homes to live in. There will be 24-hour on-site support at a retirement village, but this does not extend to any care-related needs. This would be an additional benefit that would need to be arranged and paid for separately.
2. Sheltered Retirement Homes
Sheltered retirement homes are similar to a retirement village in that they have individual living quarters, usually flats and sometimes bungalows, and have communal areas for residents to enjoy. There will also be a 24-hour warden available to manage the sheltered retirement home and take care of any concerns.
Sheltered retirement homes are less luxurious and do not have the bells and whistles of a retirement village. However, they are a more affordable option and, as they don’t have as many on-site facilities, they can encourage seniors to be more independent by visiting areas outside of the complex.
3. Assisted Living
Assisted living offers additional care to a sheltered retirement home, from on-site nursing care to on-call support staff. As with other types of retirement homes, there are still self-contained flats and communal areas, but the focus with assisted living is on seniors who have more specific care needs. Assisted living lets residents live independently and take care of their own general needs, but gives the peace of mind of having care staff nearby at all times. You will usually find that the flats or houses in assisted living complexes are fitted with alarms too, so that residents can easily alert staff in an emergency.
4. Care Homes
Care homes offer an extra layer to assisted living and are for later on in retirement. Not only do they provide safe and homely accommodation, but have dedicated care staff to look after residents’ medical and personal needs. They provide nursing care where necessary, managing medication and treatment plans and helping any seniors who may suffer from degenerative conditions like dementia. Read more about dementia care at New Care homes.
Care home staff can also help to improve the quality of life for seniors with limited mobility, ensuring they get out and are as active as possible, be that socially or physically. Care homes also offer respite care for relatives who need a break from caring for a loved one but want to know they will be properly looked after. Ultimately, care homes are created to provide a safe, happy, and enjoyable environment for seniors, with a 24 hour on-site care team always on hand.
Is The Cost of a Retirement Home Worth It?
As you can see, there are multiple options available when considering a retirement home. This means you can choose the option that better suits your needs or your budget. However, when considering a retirement home, you should also factor in the length of time you will live there. There may come a time when more support and regular care is required, so depending on your age and needs, moving into a care home may be a better option for you.
As retirement homes are intended for independent living, they can be outgrown in a short space of time. The costs associated with buying and selling a retirement home could mean it is not a worthwhile endeavour and ends up costing a significant amount more relative to the time actually spent there.
Advantages of a retirement home include:
- Owning your own home
- Living independently
- Joining a community
- Usually pet friendly
- Space for guests
The primary benefit of retirement homes is that seniors can still live a mostly independent life. This is ideal for those who are still able to manage their day-to-day life effectively and who want to continue looking after themselves. A retirement home may not be an option for seniors who require extra assistance or are looking for company.
It’s also worth noting that retirement home residents still have to pay standard bills such as council tax, water rates and energy costs. In addition, there is nearly always a service charge to cover the costs of maintenance and on-site staff with a retirement home, whereas care home costs are always clear.
Age UK also advises checking for any exit fees or other hidden costs before moving forwards with a purchase or rental of a retirement home or assisted living space. The stress that can come with selling them can be huge – something you don’t have to worry about with a care home.
Is A Retirement Home The Right Choice?
Choosing where to spend the next stage of your life is, of course, a very personal decision. A retirement home, as we’ve noted, does have several advantages. Alongside the costs however, there are also other factors to take into account when thinking about a retirement home:
- Medical care: It’s no secret that as we age we can need more regular medicines and some help with administering these medications. We may also need help with mobility or, in some cases, performing routine tasks. Retirement homes have a pared back approach to medical care, meaning you may not be able to get help when you need it. A care home, on the other hand, offers round-the-clock access to medical help and personal support.
- Reselling: Aside from the obvious cost implications of having to resell a retirement home, there is the added stress that inevitably comes with buying and selling property. It is worthwhile planning ahead for this and deciding if it is something you are happy to take on. The security of a care home arrangement comes without this worry.
- Loneliness: Whilst independence is important to many seniors, retirement homes can sometimes be lonely. The option to stay in the confines of your own four walls does not encourage social activity. A care home environment motivates and enthuses residents to spend time socialising and being involved in activities. Aside from organised events with other residents, seniors also get to spend time with staff and carers and can spend time in communal areas.
- Senior isolation: Retirement homes are purpose built for a single generation. This means there is little intergenerational mixing and conversations can revolve around the same subjects. In other facilities, such as care homes, seniors mix with younger members of staff. They are able to discuss fun and interesting subjects, learn new things and have experiences outside of their age group.
Alternatives to Retirement Homes
Preparing for retirement can be daunting and a retirement home may be the next logical step for any seniors who are still happy to take care of themselves and are socially active. But inevitably, there will come a time when it is harder for an elderly person to look after all of their own needs. Family members may need to take on the responsibility of reselling the retirement home or looking after their loved one.
A care home can be an alternative option at the right stage of life, as it provides sustained support plus help with medical issues and long-term health concerns. It also encourages regular socialisation through a programme of events and is a safe space for seniors to relax knowing everything is taken care of. Cooking, cleaning, and room maintenance are all included with a care home.
On top of the benefits for the residents themselves, a care home gives family members peace of mind that their loved one is being looked after and they will not have to face costly fees or hidden charges associated with retirement homes.
New Care has luxurious care facilities throughout the north-west, as well as in Leeds and Nottingham, and offers care for those seniors who want a sociable community to live in, as well as those with more serious health concerns, such as dementia.
You can find out more about the care offered at New Care Homes and how we balance the need for independence with day-to-day care needs by contacting us and arranging a visit to one of our residencies.