A recent article in The Globe and Mail opened with the following observation: “There comes a time when many older Canadians realize that their home is too much of a burden and it makes sense to downsize into something more manageable.

For some retired people, that means looking into retirement living communities – also known as active adult or adult lifestyle communities – with amenities and services and a chance to be among other seniors who share their outlook and interests.”

It’s an issue most of us have contemplated, either for ourselves or on behalf of aging parents. And as The Globe and Mail piece pointed out, not only is the selection process enormously tricky, it poses the same three questions confronted by first-time home buyers:

  1. What can I afford?
  2. What are the amenities and services available?
  3. What are the neighbours like?

The story investigated the real-life example of Donna Weddell, a Burnaby, B.C. native who lost her husband a couple of years ago.

Fortunately, Ms. Weddell was assisted in her search by her sister and her daughter, so the process was considerably less stressful than if she had been forced to go through it alone.

Among the many features typically offered by retirement living facilities, the following are regarded as the most important:

  1. Dining services, including the availability of nutritious meals
  2. Housekeeping and laundry services
  3. Home maintenance and repairs
  4. Transportation
  5. The availability of social activities, fitness classes and outings

Finally, Ms. Weddell found what she was looking for in the form of a “boutique-style” retirement residence in Burnaby whose list of amenities included “on-site chauffeur and maintenance staff as well as the social contact that she was missing as a widow.”

Ms. Weddell was quoted in the story as making the following key points that influenced her final decision: “I didn’t want to be in a big high-rise or interact with neighbours that were younger than I was or rowdier than I was,” she observed. “This seemed like a very good fit: I would get the socialization. I meet new people in like circumstances, and everything is provided for me.”

Fortunately, Ms. Weddell had the financial resources to afford a two-bedroom suite – one room of which she uses to pursue her quilting and knitting hobbies. She has a balcony with a view of north Vancouver, exercises frequently in the building gym and has “joined the quilting group and learned to knit with other residents.”

All the More Reason to Plan Ahead for Retirement

One interesting aspect of The Globe and Mail story was a reference to an organization called Assisted Transitions, a self-styled “retirement lifestyle & elder care consulting service.”

The company specializes in matching the right retirement living community with the specific interests and needs of each client. In other words, Assisted Transitions takes the hassle out of making a retirement home decision – for a fee, of course.

The development of this kind of service has been driven in large part by, as The Globe and Mail story reports, “the huge baby boomer demographic who are wealthier than any age cohort before them.”

Assisted Transitions was founded by Kathryn J. Tinnerman, a 65-year-old entrepreneur who spotted the need for such a service several years ago. She has subsequently developed it into a thriving enterprise.

“If people are active, they can have great retirements, but it does all boil down to money,” Ms. Tinnerman was quoted as saying.

While this judgment may seem harsh, it’s true. Financial resources are the benchmark against which many retirements are based.

At Everything Retirement we wish that this were not the case but, inevitably, it is.

We believe that to ensure a more financially sound retirement, planning should start early. If you’d like to get that ball rolling, you may wish to consult with one of our partners at Coastal Community Credit Union, Coastal Community Private Wealth Group, or Interior Savings to discover how they can help you be better prepared when the day comes.