When Is the Right Time to Start Looking for Retirement Living Options?

When Is the Right Time to Start Looking for Retirement Living Options?

There is never a wrong time to start looking for retirement living options for you or a loved one. It is never too early to do your research. The sooner you begin your search, the more time you have to fully research your options.

It is important to think about what level of care you need to look at. The next part of this series will address determining the best level of care. Generally you will be looking for independent living, assisted living, or nursing care.

Broadly speaking, independent living is for those who are just looking to give up the burdens of home ownership and may just want to make their lives simpler. They may want to have more companionship, security and peace of mind.

Assisted living is for those who need assistance with their personal care, such as bathing, dressing and grooming, and may be in need of medication management. Someone may need help with these activities of daily living due to physical limitations or cognitive impairments. For those who have more advanced cognitive impairments, they may be in need of a memory care assisted living facility, where there are more specialized programs for those with memory loss or with issues like wandering.

Those in need of 24-hour medical and personal care would be best cared for at a skilled nursing facility. The staff there is equipped to handle more complex medical issues and provide 24-hour skilled care.

Be aware that many communities and facilities have waiting lists, so don’t wait until there is a crisis to start looking. By looking at options early, you will be able to have what you need to make an informed decision and it will allow you to have choices, rather than having to take what happens to be available.

As suggested in part 1 of this series, begin researching as soon as possible, make calls and talk to people. If you are looking at independent living, there are many options from a senior apartment or patio home to places that offer services, like meals, housekeeping, transportation and activities. Even if you are aren’t looking to make a move for a few years, arm yourself now with the information you need to make that decision.

Time may not be on your side when looking for assisted living or skilled nursing. You or your loved one may be in the hospital or in a subacute rehab and assisted living or skilled nursing care is needed upon discharge. Enlist the help of the social worker or discharge planner to let you know what level of care you or your loved one needs and if you haven’t done your research yet, ask them to help point you in the right direction. Remember, just because you hear that someplace has a waiting list, it doesn’t mean your shouldn’t contact them. They just may unexpectedly have something available, so just call.

If you think, “I’ll just wait until something happens before I make a move,” you may want to rethink that. Usually when something happens, it becomes a crisis situation and your options are limited. Move when you are in control of the decision.

When choosing a full-service retirement community like The GreenFields, you can move into independent living when you have the ability to make the choice, and it isn’t made for you. Then, as your needs change, you have priority access to the other levels of care on the campus.

Tips to Remember:

  • Be proactive, do your research early.
  • If in the hospital or rehab, enlist the help of the social worker or discharge planner.
  • Even if a community has a waiting list, still call for information.
  • Don’t wait for a crisis; make a decision while it is still your decision to make.

The GreenFields Continuing Care Community is located on Broadway in Lancaster, offering independent living apartments at GreenField Manor and assisted living apartments at GreenField Court. The GreenField Health & Rehabilitation Center provides skilled nursing care, inpatient rehabilitation services and outpatient therapy. GreenField Terrace provides memory care and enhanced assisted living. To learn more about what GreenFields has to offer, please call the Senior Living Department at (716) 684-8400.

Hear this topic as presented on WBEN radio.


The GreenFields resident



5959 Broadway
Lancaster, NY 14086

The Niagara Lutheran Health System does not discriminate in the admittance of residents or the hiring of employees relative to age, race, creed, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, sexual preference gender, gender identity, blindness, handicap, sponsor, marital status, or religion.

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