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Cathy DeAngelo

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By Cathy DeAngelo

What with the baby boomer generation aging, more people than ever are reconsidering many factors in their lifestyle … and one of the most important is deciding where to live. We all age and deciding whether and/or where to move when it’s time to downsize is a process that requires thought and planning.

Finding the right retirement community or next step is about asking the right questions. That process starts with a careful consideration of your individual needs and desires. While this exercise can present its challenges, it can also be exciting to imagine a new phase of life that isn’t dictated by a work schedule and an alarm clock.

The best time to begin planning and discuss with your spouse and/or family members is while you’re still working. It takes time to figure out where you’ll want to be. There are many options out there. The more you learn about what’s available and what each has to offer, the easier your decision will be. You don’t want to be pressed to make a choice when you unexpectedly have a need.

For starters, the following are 10 questions to consider:

What kind of retirement lifestyle do I envision?

What is my budget?

What is my current health status?

What do I want to continue to do/what do I not want to do?

What will I not be able to do?

What kinds of activities interest me?

Where do I want to be -— near family, in my familiar community?

City, country, suburbs?

What kind of people do I want to be with?

What amenities would I like?

How much space do I need?

It’s important to be realistic with your answers. For example, if you have health issues now, it’s highly likely that you’re going to have more in 10 years. You have to be honest about the barriers to things you want to do now, and how will you manage those challenges later in life. Look around the house and ask what do I want … and what can I do without?

If you’re considering buying a retirement home, look beyond the real estate to the services that come with it or are nearby, as these services will be important down the road. For example, a 55-plus community that suits your lifestyle at age 60 or 65 may not have the services to support you after age 75 or 80. You’ll want to have access to a range of activities and an easy way to get to them, convenient shopping and health services, as well as have other support systems in place.

Popular options include lifecare retirement communities like Jefferson’s Ferry that enable residents to age in place, with independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities available at one site; assisted living facilities that offer rooms and apartments; independent living senior living communities; condominiums and shared space with family members, to name a few.

Most of us need people to thrive. And not just those to assist us with things we’re no longer able to do, but to engage our interests and be our friends and companions. Having more time to do the things you like and enjoy the company of old and new friends and family is a wonderful gift. The best retirement plan takes into consideration each individual’s specific needs and preferences. Considering these factors ahead of time will make the decision that much less overwhelming. Take the step … and create that plan!

Cathy DeAngelo is the director of sales and marketing at Jefferson’s Ferry Lifecare Retirement Community in South Setauket.