Determining when you may want to consider moving to a senior living community is a very complicated decision process. Many people wait for a crisis to occur before considering such a move. Others are far more proactive and move before something happens.

Planning requires that you look ‘realistically’ into the crystal ball.

Try to imagine your life in 5 to 10 years from now. Looking in the crystal ball, you need to think about a scenario when you may not drive anymore or if your health starts to change, how will you manage? Try to create a mental image of what the situation will be like for a year if you or your spouse passes away or requires care. It is important that you are realistic, so you thoroughly think through this process.

Who’s going to change the light bulbs?

It’s human nature for people to elect to “stick it out” in their own homes. This then creates a tremendous burden on their family and friends. There is a great deal of loneliness and isolation that occurs and a level of vulnerability of abuse from outsiders. Access to services is limited, plus simple chores like driving to the grocery store or picking up your prescription medication becomes a major challenge. Home maintenance and repairs become major issues and the potential for exploitation from unscrupulous vendors can be problematic.

It is always better to be five years too early than five minutes too late.

Many senior living communities have medical acceptance criteria to be considered for residency. This is a very important factor to consider. People who wait for a crisis to occur or have progressive medical conditions often find out that the community or communities they were considering have no openings when they suddenly need to move.

If you are a couple, you need to look after each other and protect one another in case one of you requires care. More importantly, you need to make sure the healthy spouse has their future care plan in place. Unfortunately, many people fail to consider this scenario and the healthy spouse ends up in a dire situation (medically, socially, and financially) after the non-healthy spouse passes away.

Senior living communities are not nursing homes.

At the root of the timing question is the misconception that senior living communities are nursing homes and by moving to a retirement community, you will be losing your independence. Senior living communities offer a wide spectrum of services and amenities, including dining, social activities, fitness & wellness programs so residents can keep active and healthy longer.

Am I ready to consider a move to a retirement community?

Many folks that ultimately move to a senior community will say that prior to their move they were not ready. If you talk with them after they move however, nearly 100% will say that it was the best decision they ever made and wished they would have made it sooner.

So…when is the right time?

There are different time frames to consider. When to you want to start your research, when do you see yourself narrowing down your choices and when do you want to move? By doing your research early, you may find that community you are considering has a waiting list or is planning to expand, or is under construction.

If you have a long-term plan to move, try to figure out what needs to occur between now and this date in the future to make you ready.

Select, don’t settle.

By selecting a senior living community before your health changes, you can choose the place that best fits your needs and lifestyle. The longer you wait, the less selection you will have. If you are considering a new community, you often can pick your desired location and floor plan.

Bottom line? Don’t wait for something to occur. Plan for your tomorrows today!