Not all seniors want or are able to remain in the same house, especially after the loss of a spouse. While some do choose to stay and “age in place” alone, others opt to head to a community near an adult child.
Many older folks want to remain independent and choose a small, single-family home while others choose to try out an apartment. They often have specific issues and needs — the same issues and needs baby boomers will face in a short few years.
After living so many years in the same place, these decisions are huge. Some don’t know where to start, and neither do their adult children.
In an effort to provide information to help transition parents, here are some seemingly “older” questions to consider that might be as far away as tomorrow. The first, of course, is: Can you find mom or dad a home that will replace the present home at the same price?
What types of housing is available in the areas you are considering? What are the costs for small, detached, single-family homes? What type of maintenance is required for quality rental homes? Do apartments and condominiums have suggested age restrictions? Does the condominium association permit subletting a bedroom? Are there special security provisions for owners who choose to live elsewhere part of the year?
What level of emergency service is already in place? What is planned for the future? Are competent doctors, nurses and clinic specialists available and accessible? If not, how close are they in terms of miles and time? Where is the nearest “full-service” hospital, and what are its latest technologies and specializations? Is there a high-standard, long-term-care facility in the community? Are pharmacies and emergency clinics available at all times? Are local hospitals fully or underutilized? Would projected growth cause an overload that might jeopardize other citizens’ health services? Is special care for the handicapped available? Are visiting nurses or in-home services easy to arrange?
What is the truthful definition of local climate? What are the average temperatures in summer and winter? What are the wind conditions (how will it affect golf shots?) and how much rain falls in specific months? When does the snow arrive, how long does it stay and is it a limiting factor on the movement of persons and vehicles? What is the humidity? Is the area affected by dust, pollens or industrial discharges?
Is the community adequately policed? What is the response time for police or fire calls? Does it boast a low crime rate? Are there specific records of house break-ins, assaults, purse snatchings and car theft? Does the community have a 911 or similar response in place for police, fire or medical services now? What is the future probability of such a service online?
Government and Tax
What local taxes exist in addition to federal and state taxes? Are there any special tax exemptions for seniors? What are property tax valuations? Are city and county offices staffed by helpful people to provide quick answers? Are special taxes or levies likely? What has been the history of such taxes?
What recreational opportunities exist for mature people? What sports — besides golf and tennis — are emphasized? What kinds of opportunities are available for fishing and hunting and what does licensing cost? Are there nice parks, walks and scenic views that are safe at all times of the day? Are there distinctive geological features in the area?
How many months a year is it possible to play golf? Are the green fees expensive or affordable? Is membership in a club available? Does the club restrict the number of rounds a guest can play? Does the club membership offer other benefits such as social events?
Are organized events such as ballroom or square dancing available? Do clubs, hobby groups and church organizations welcome newcomers and visitors?
Is there a local symphony and nearby theatres with live stage productions? Is it easy for newcomers to participate in historical or art museums, bridge clubs, churches, lodges and special interest clubs? What is the predominant entertainment outside the home? What types of films do the movie theatres present? Is there a special time for seniors?
Are there local bus, train, taxis and van services available? How long a drive, and how many miles, to a major airport? Are flights reasonably priced? What are the conditions of local roads and highways? Are there freeways, or limited access, linking the community to any major urban centers?
Moving is a big deal for an older consumer. Do your best to help your folks, family and friends with the research.