Surviving Spouse Corner: Selecting a Retirement Community

By Patricia Farnsworth, Surviving Spouse Advisory Committee member

Planning for the retirement years is a really important task. The options are numerous, and because the retired population is growing, the choices are becoming more numerous every year. This is wonderful in some ways but can make the decisions more complicated.

Making these decisions — and perhaps moving into a retirement community — can be accomplished more easily when a retiree is in good health and still able to make wise decisions. Choosing which belongings should be moved and which should be given away can be a hard task. Selecting the new residence and downsizing take careful consideration and sometimes difficult decisions.


Older adults who choose an independent-living community often do so for reasons of convenience and socialization. Active, independent seniors who safely can manage their personal-care needs and their medications are candidates for the independent-living units of the facilities. They might also want to maintain an active lifestyle, including travel and other activities.


There is so much to consider when making this decision. Climate, cost, amenities offered, volunteer opportunities, church activities, whether it’s pet-friendly, and any special needs are only a few. Perhaps the decision should be influenced by proximity to family members, particularly children. Having children within easy visiting distance can be a great advantage, especially when their help is needed. Selecting a retirement facility that offers the opportunity to lead an active, independent lifestyle is important for those who have participated in many activities before moving to their new home.


A continuing-care retirement community (CCRC) offers a full continuum of senior care, from independent living to assisted living and skilled nursing. Many also offer home care, memory care, and hospice services. Typically CCRCs are the choice of seniors eager to remain independent and active while lining up a plan for their future, too. A life plan community can be a good long-term solution for seniors who want a comprehensive senior-care community with a variety of options for now and for the future.

Many communities offer a large number of amenities: fitness and aquatic centers, wellness clinics, various dining venues, activity programs, housekeeping services, maintenance and landscaping, transportation to scheduled events, and spiritual services.

One should seek a community that has a reputation for delivering excellent service and performance while making sure each resident’s life is touched in a meaningful way. Finding the best match is a challenge to be undertaken as early as possible.