One of the nicest things about retirement is that, finally, you and your spouse have all the time in the world to spend together. Many couples have all sorts of great plans and dreams for what they want to happen when they have reached this point in their lives. At the same time, couples need to start thinking about their future as they age and what steps will need to take place in order to live happy, healthy lives. Mary Ellen Thieroff, Marketing Director of Royal Oaks, an established Life Plan Community in Sun City, AZ, says that making the move to senior living is a smart move for retired couples – and the sooner, the better.

“The idea that senior living is for old people is completely outdated,” she says. “These days, senior living is for – well – living! When senior couples choose to move into a community while they are still active and independent, they get the best of all worlds: the freedom and amenities to live the life they want now, while also having additional services and health care that can come into play if and when it’s needed.”

While some couples are ready to move into senior living as soon as they retire their work badge, others may not want to move until it’s technically necessary. This can cause a bit of a bump in the road if one spouse is still healthy and active while the other one needs more care.

Mary Ellen encourages couples to think about situations such as the above well before it becomes an issue, because it will greatly assist them in their future. “It’s never too early or too late to have the conversation about moving into senior living,” she says. “The more you research your options and determine what you want now and in the future, the easier it will be to make the transition – and it will be a lot more enjoyable, too.”

It should come as no surprise that couples who move into senior living community can often deepen their relationship, even as health issues spring up. “Staying close to our spouse and nurturing those bonds helps ensure a high quality of life as we age,” Mary Ellen says. “Moving into senior living can help relationships because it takes a lot of work and pressure off the couple. In a senior living community, residents enjoy maintenance-free living as well as benefit from services and amenities that maintain physical, mental and emotional well-being. Knowing that you’re in a place where your needs will always be met, no matter what, can reduce stress a great deal and allow you and your loved one to focus on what’s important: enjoying every day.”

If you and your spouse are considering moving into a senior living community, here are some tips to consider to make the move as enjoyable, smooth and rewarding as possible.

Tip 1: Think about your needs (and wants) now and in the future.

The best senior living solution is one that meets your needs now and in the future. What that looks like, however, is completely dependent on the person. Before starting any type of search – or, perhaps we should say, before you make a decision as to where to live – sit down with your spouse to discuss your goals, wants and needs. What does retirement look like for you now? Five years from now? 10 years from now? Understanding the lifestyle you want to live now and in the future can help you narrow down your options to help you make a decision. Being proactive in this way allows you to really think through what you want as well as allows you to make an informed, rational decision instead of making one because you “have to” when issues arise.

Tip 2: Determine how to handle future health care needs.

No one really likes to think about health issues that might arise in the future, but it’s something that senior couples should discuss sooner rather than later. This can help you determine what sort of senior living experience you might want. Some senior living communities offer a full range of services from independent living to supportive living and memory care, while others may only offer one or two types of lifestyles. A Life Plan Community (formerly known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community) may be a good option for spouses who require (or who anticipate needing) different levels of care at the same time. This can be incredibly beneficial because it allows spouses to remain together, even if additional care is needed, because services can flex as required.

Tip 3: Start downsizing now.

Whether you’re planning on moving in the next 60 days or the next 6 years, there’s no time like the present to start downsizing your belongings. Moving into senior living means downsizing, which means that you and your spouse may need to sort through a lot of stuff in order to make sure you have just what you need for your new life. Starting the downsizing process before it’s “necessary” can make it a fun experience instead of something stressful and unenjoyable. If possible, take your time – don’t expect you’re going to go through everything in one weekend. (It is good, however, to have an ultimate end date like “the end of summer” or “before the end of the year” so that your deadline doesn’t run away from you.

Tip 4: Update your financial plan.

It’s always a good idea to revisit your financial plan at least once a year, even if your circumstances haven’t changed. Moving to a senior living community, though, may require you to do some shifting of resources as well as allocating assets in different arenas. Will you need to sell a family home to move into the community? What sort of financial contract does the community require? Make sure that your financial planner knows about your plans so that he or she can help you maximize your assets to the fullest.

Tip 5: Embrace possibilities – as couples and as individuals.

Even though a couple is a unit, each person is also their own individual. While you’re looking at your needs as a “couple,” be sure to focus also on your “individual” wants and needs. Research what amenities, activities and options are available at your different senior living communities to make sure it’s a great place to live for both you and your spouse. And, of course, be sure to enter into the situation with an open mind. Senior living is a great opportunity to meet new people, try new things and life a completely different life than before. Embrace the change and the possibility and you may be amazed and surprised at what you find.

A vibrant oasis in the heart of Arizona.

If you love the idea of living in a community that sees the world a little differently – welcome home to Royal Oaks. Come discover the extraordinary when you reach beyond the familiar. You’ll have the time of your life in our Life Plan Community, exploring the almost endless possibilities.

Conveniently located near Phoenix in Sun City, Arizona, our upscale senior living community is an oasis of 50+ lush acres featuring a myriad of plants, trees and rose gardens. We are a nonprofit community that offers a full continuum of senior living services and care to older adults, including independent living, assisted living, memory support and complete supportive living. Continual improvements to the campus have resulted in state-of-the-art communal and private areas. Our main building bustles like Grand Central Station, complete with all the amenities of a small city.

With state-of-the-art technology, beautiful residences and engaging programs and amenities, Royal Oaks was designed with a focus on the future and all its potential. We invite you to visit our vibrant retirement community near Phoenix and get a taste for the good life.

Call 623-377-7663 today to schedule a personal tour.