Retirement Homes: A luxury or a practical long term solution

Mr. Sharma is a senior citizen and a seasoned banker, just got retired from a leading nationalised bank. Both his sons are educated, working in IT companies, and travelling across the globe on onsite projects. Having discharged their responsibility of educating and marrying their children, he and his wife now feel alone and are intent to spending their sunset years in a secure and peaceful environment, and in the company of like minded senior citizens.

Enter retirement homes.  

Retiremnt homes

Concept of a retirement home

With the advent of globalisation and a rising mobility of employees, increasing life expectancy & slowly disappearing joint family system, there is a marked trend whereby children move out of the nests and settle in bigger cities or out of India and parents are left with a choice to either travel with their children wherever they go or stay alone in the native place, for the rest of their sunset years. While with the advent of various telecommunications options, staying in touch has become lot easier, at the same time, decreasing physical capabilities to do day to day work and rising crimes are forcing senior citizens to evaluate assisted living as an option.

Do you really need a retirement home?

After living for decades in the same house or vicinity, it is very natural to get attached to it. But at the same time, if you realise and acknowledge your limitation and necessity in terms of assisted living and companionship, then a shift to retirement homes can come with a short term emotional pain but can prove to be a better option in the long term.

When you are evaluating the need to move to a retirement home, a few questions will help you better decide:

  • Will you be able to maintain your current home without any hassles?
  • Do you feel secure living alone? Are there security checks around your place like CCTV, intercom, 24 hours security etc.?
  • Do you feel comfortable moving in and out of the house, driving etc.?
  • In case of an emergency, are decent medical facilities available & someone is there who you can call for help?
  • How is the present health of yourself and spouse? By what degree is it likely to worsen over time?

First, you need to discuss this option frankly with your children and your friends, then do a due diligence on the facilities offered by various providers, speak to residents and only if you are convinced, take the final decision.  

Planning to move into a retirement home: Consider these points

So, you have finally made up your mind to make your retirement home as your Unlike a few years ago, there is a lot more choice available when you go out shopping for a retirement home. Apart from private developers like Aashiana Housing, Anandam, Dignity Lifestyle and Age Ventures, there are well known names like LIC Housing Finance and Tata Housing have also set up retirement communities in various cities. While there may be some features here and there, every good retirement home generally come with the following basic features:

  • 24 hour staff (dedicated staff for household chores like cleaning, dishes etc.)
  • Emergency facilities like CCTV, security guard, security alarm, intercom facility, etc.
  • Activity centre like tennis, swimming, gym, spa, library/ reading room, etc.
  • Bonding activities like a common dining area, celebration of festivals, birthdays, anniversaries etc.

If you go on the website of individual providers, each provider promises its own set of features. Hence, be prepared to spend good time doing comparison shopping. But before moving out, first list down your expectations from a retirement home and break those needs into “must have” and “good to have” ones. After that, it’s time to screen the properties for the “must have” parameters and eliminate properties that do not meet your critical needs. For the remaining ones, you can shortlisted them and move forward. It is highly recommended to visit the place for a first hand view and which can also help you get an independent feedback from the actual residents as to whether the facilities promised on paper do exist and working properly.

Apart from features and benefits, buying a retirement home involves a financial commitment and a decision on  which is the best amongst the various available options (outright buy/ deferred buy/ long term lease/ monthly rentals) – at this stage, you need to have a clear understanding of the various terms and conditions and since you might have to also liquidate some of your retirement corpus to meet this commitment, you must involve a trusted financial planner at this point who will provide you with the right guidance and advice on this issue.

Making it easy

Moving into a retirement home is not easy for any senior couple. It is in these times that as children, friends and even trusted financial advisors, we need to make the transition as smooth as possible through a proper hand-holding, support and reassurance, knowing that this is the right solution for the long term well being of the couple. As for Mr. Sharma and his wife, it took some time for them to adjust with new surroundings, and make friends with the other residents, but the retirement home has proved to be the best gift by their children. Now, in a span of few months, Mr. Sharma has reconnected with his lost passion for tennis while his wife has developed long lasting friendships with other ladies sharing the similar interest for gardening and cooking. As for their children, wherever they are in the world, they can rest assured of the overall well being of their parents.