Those who know my parents, who have always been active types, know that the word “retire” was never part of their vocabulary. So you can imagine my utter shock when they brought up the subject of retiring.
Of course, for them “retiring” meant leaving their full-time jobs so that they would have more time to do other things, such as reading, golf, traveling, doting on the grandkids and volunteer work. However, because they would no longer be able to rely on their incomes, this meant other changes were in store.
Downsizing – A Definite ‘Yes’
My parents realized that, with a fixed income, they would need to downsize. You have to understand that my parents still lived in the house where I was raised. The thought of them moving was not only hard on them but on my siblings and me as well.
While my parents have always enjoyed life to the fullest, they also are very practical people. So they admitted to themselves that the upkeep and costs of a four-bedroom house simply did not make sense for them anymore. My parents decided to start the process of downsizing or rightsizing as my mother liked to call it. Click here for tips about rightsizing your life.
Location, location, location
They had always toyed with the idea of moving to a warmer climate, such as Florida, where they could enjoy their pastimes all year round. My mother also had an ulterior motive: She figured her children and grandchildren would visit more often if they were in a desirable location such as Florida.
Florida also has a relatively lower cost of living compared to other states. Plus, Florida has no state income tax, which means Social Security retirement benefits, pension income and income from IRAs or a 401(k) are all untaxed.
If you’re a golfer like my dad, you’ll appreciate that Florida is one of the states with the most golf courses per capita.
Oh and did I mention that my Aunt Ruth (on my mother’s side) lives in South Florida? Well, I’m not sure if this was seen as a plus or minus on my dad’s part.
As you probably have guessed, my parents are very social people. They have a great group of close friends, and they socialize regularly with them. The thought of moving to a place where they wouldn’t know a soul did not appeal to them, to say the least. That’s when I suggested moving to a retirement community. They’d have a built-in network of new friends, from folks they’d meet in the neighborhood, to those at the pool and in daily activities.
I truly expected them to blow off the idea entirely. But when they didn’t immediately respond with opposing views, I took it as a sign that they might actually be considering it. Click here for seven ways living in a retirement community benefits senior health.
Amen to amenities!
Like many, one of the first things that came to mind for my parents when they heard the phrase “retirement communities” is boredom. They were afraid they’d have nothing in common with the other residents, who likely had limited mobility and/or mental clarity.
We looked at several websites for retirement communities, and I could see that they were pleasantly surprised. Many of the communities truly offered something for everyone, from fitness centers to game rooms to arts and crafts.
My mother took me aside in private to confide in me, half-joking she was worried that spending too much time with my father post-retirement would lead to divorce. She told me she was relieved when she saw all the activities that retirement communities offer. “Your dad can be on the golf course while I’m playing tennis!”
Seeing is believing
Skeptics at heart, my parents doubted the photos of vibrant, active residents they saw online and in printed brochures. I decided to call their bluff. “Let’s go visit some facilities so you can see for yourself,” I suggested.
And that’s how we ended up on the road, visiting Acts Life-Retirement Communities in Florida. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you their jaws dropped once they saw the grounds and all the goings-on. To be honest, I’m not sure even my parents could keep up with all the activities offered!
What was icing on the cake for my parents, however, was the peace of mind they knew they would get with lifetime care, including health care plus assisted living and skilled nursing if they ended up needing it. Not to mention the peace of mind it gave my siblings and me. Acts Retirement is a continuing care retirement community that offers what’s known as a life care contract. Unlike a fee for service retirement community, where costs could sky rocket if my parents need assisted living or skilled nursing care when you join an Acts community, you’re prepaying your future health care needs in today’s dollars (and not worrying about inflation). Monthly costs will remain consistent should my parents need a higher level of care, and never rise solely based on needing a higher level of care. Click here to learn more about Continuing Care Retirement Communities.
Now all that’s left is helping them clean out five decades of junk — er, memories — from their home. I think I’ll be ready to retire after that!