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7 Tips for Choosing a Retirement Community

Free resource from ACTS Retirement-Life Communities helps consumers ask the right questions and sort through the maze of senior housing options.

West Point, PA (Vocus) May 18, 2009 -- Preparing for a comfortable and enjoyable retirement requires much planning. There are many factors to consider, including present and future needs, personal preferences, and financial situation. For those contemplating a move to a retirement community, there are more choices available than ever before. ACTS Retirement-Life Communities (, a not-for-profit aging services organization, offers the following tips for individuals researching a retirement community for themselves or a loved one:

1.   Check the background of the community: Find out when and how it was
established, who owns and operates it, and who manages the community. What is the track record of management? Is it not-for-profit (which may provide a tax benefit) or for-profit? Is it accredited for meeting high standards in services, operations and financial stability? Visit

2.   Consider future health needs: Many senior communities offer an attractive lifestyle but do not provide medical services, making another move a possibility down the line. Be sure to find out if health care is available, what levels of care are provided at any community you are considering and how much it will cost.

3.   Get detailed information about fees: Find out what all fees do and do not include. Some refundable fee contracts do not protect you from the increasing costs of medical care (such as assisted living and skilled nursing care) if ever needed. Ask if monthly fees are subject to increase and under what conditions. Find out the average fee increase percentage over the past five years.

4.   Meet with residents & tour the community: Ask to speak with several residents to see how they like living at the community. Stay for lunch or dinner so you can sample the food and the service. Notice if the community is clean, well maintained, and secure. Is there adequate parking?

5.   Use a services and amenities checklist: Get a complete information packet including application for admission, fee schedules, floor plans and resident contracts. Compare each community's pricing to amenities, programs and services offered. Consider closely the cost associated with staying in your current residence (maintenance, utilities, property taxes, insurance, etc.) versus moving.

6.   Ask about recreational and social activities: Find out what kind of social, cultural and educational activities are available. Is there an activities director on staff to plan entertainment, events, and trips? Is transportation available? Is there an on-site fitness center and programs for wellness?

7.   Consider location and find out if there is a waiting list: Is the community near family, friends, doctor's office, place of worship, and shopping? Is there a waiting list? If so, how does it work? Is a deposit required?

For more tips visit and download A Consumer's Guide to Retirement Living, a free 20-page booklet that explains the range of retirement living options that are available along with checklists and worksheets to help seniors gather information as they begin to explore retirement living options.


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