Retirement Living: A Beginner’s Guide

This is what you’ve been waiting for; you’ve reached retirement and are ready to start living life on your terms. Naturally, you’ve got big ideas for this next chapter — maybe it’s time to finally take that trip, or learn that second language, or simply enjoy the fruits of a life well-lived. Whatever your vision for the perfect retirement looks like, you’re bound to have some questions on how to make it a reality. Let us help by exploring your senior living options and the benefits of retirement communities.  

Make Sure You’re Ready for Retirement Living

  Senior living communities have a lot to offer both residents and their families. However, it’s still a big decision that shouldn’t be rushed into without full consideration of all your retirement options. Once you’ve seen what’s out there, you’ll be more knowledgeable and better equipped to choose the option that’s right for you and your family. Don’t worry if you find yourself asking, “What is independent living and are we ready for it?” That’s just the first of many questions that you’ll have throughout this process. You shouldn’t be surprised if, once you start exploring the best retirement communities in your area, you ask yourself another question: “Why did we wait so long?” The signs that you’re ready for modern senior living will quickly become clear when you consider things like:   
  • Feeling as if your current home is now too big, too cluttered and too much work for you to handle at your age
  • No longer wishing to cook for yourself every day, and enjoying the convenience of chef-prepared meals instead
  • Wanting to enjoy a steady schedule of experiences like fun social events, group fitness classes, exciting outings and great meals with new friends
  • A desire to explore all the sights and highlights that your city and community has to offer, with good friends by your side
  • Finding that everyday tasks are becoming a little tougher than they used to be, and you’re worried about future health problems that could arise
  If any of these statements apply to you, then you’re likely ready to start considering an independent living community.   

Debunking Retirement Living Myths

  A major reason why some people wait so long to consider senior living communities is what they think they’ll find upon starting their search. For many, retirement communities are synonymous with nursing homes. In truth, they’re wildly different. Even though a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) like Viamonte provides a full continuum of healthcare services to those in need, there’s so much more to enjoy than just age-related support. As your search gets underway, focus on the positives that you’ll soon get to enjoy every day, rather than getting hung up on the many common myths and misconceptions that abound when it comes to retirement communities, things like: 
“They’re only for old people.”
Visit a CCRC and you’re bound to find residents as young as 55 enjoying full, active and engaging lifestyles. Independent living lets residents be as independent as they want. 
“It’s far more expensive than staying in my own home.”
The cost of senior living is not as prohibitive as many people think. In fact, it’s often comparable — or even less — than trying to pay for the same healthcare services while staying in your own home. 
“I don’t need to move until I really need the help.”
It’s never too early to enjoy independent living. Not only do you get to experience a carefree, low-maintenance lifestyle, but you’re doing so while still healthy and in control of your choices. This makes the transition to a higher level of healthcare easier, should you ever need to do so. Common myths like these are easy to come by, however what’s even easier to find are the truths about modern senior living. It only takes one visit to the right independent living community to find the lifestyle that will fit your future.  

What to Look for When Looking into Retirement Living 

  At the end of the day, everyone’s individual decisions will come down to personal preference and comfort level. Still, there are several universal factors that you should consider to help make your search a little easier.  

Location

  They say, “location, location, location,” for a reason. Moving into an independent living community doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to the people and places you already know and love. Instead, a community like Viamonte can actually enhance your local lifestyle. Favorite Bay Area attractions like The Gardens at Heather Farm, the Broadway Plaza, the Ruth Bancroft Garden, or Lesher Center for the Arts are all nearby and ready for you to enjoy.  

Healthcare

  If you’re considering an independent living community, then you likely don’t need to worry about healthcare just yet. Still, it’s important and comforting to understand the care options that are available in the communities you’re considering. Viamonte residents enjoy complete peace of mind knowing that higher levels of care like Assisted Living and Memory Care are available within the community, if they’re ever needed.  

Lifestyle

  How do you envision spending your days in retirement? Maybe you just want to enjoy a quiet and relaxing setting, surrounded by nature and like-minded people. Or, you plan to make every day an adventure, staying active with group or solo exercises, exploring new interests and enjoying available amenities. And don’t forget about the food. Gourmet dining options are one of the most popular parts of senior living communities, so be sure to take a good look at the menus and visit the dining venues.  

Costs

  When you start comparing prices at senior living communities, don’t let sticker shock slow you down. Consider how much you think you can afford and explore all of your most cost-effective options, while also taking a close look at how much you currently spend to maintain your own home, in addition to any current healthcare costs. Ask about any additional charges for extra services and amenities, and make sure you know what is included and what’s not to avoid going over budget. To learn more about specifics at a community like Viamonte, check out our blog on Understanding Your Financial Options  

COVID-19 Safety 

  As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to evolve, it’s important to consider community safety measures. The health and wellbeing of both residents and staff should be an ever-present priority throughout the community. Obviously, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to how a community responds to these unique times, but you should be acutely aware of the best practices that are in place at every community you visit.  

Getting Ready to Make the Move

  One of the final hurdles that people face when considering senior living communities is the nerve-racking nature of being “the new kid.” Moving to a new place is an adjustment, but it’s one that’s made easier in a community of like-minded people who are all enjoying the full benefits of retirement. These years offer the opportunity to explore old passions and new hobbies alike, allowing you to engage with a diverse network of people who share your same interests. Thanks to a thoughtful calendar of activities, residents have the opportunity to get to know one another. When nothing formal is scheduled, there are still plenty of opportunities to socialize by the fireside lounge, in the art studio, on the bocce court and more. You’ll quickly find that those nerves were for naught, and that learning to feel comfortable in your new community is easier than you could have imagined.   Moving also means selling your home and figuring out what to do with all of the things that have made your house a home over the years. Don’t let downsizing intimidate you; freeing up space to allow for a better flow of energy can be liberating. The reason for this is bigger than just getting rid of some household items. You’re in fact making room for health, freedom and more time spent with loved ones. Downsizing and making the move doesn’t have to be a scary experience. It’s been reported that the majority of residents currently living in a CCRC believe they’re happier overall after downsizing to a smaller personal residence because the lifestyle they now enjoy beyond their door is so much richer.    If you’re ready to start your search for a senior living community to call home, consider Viamonte at Walnut Creek — a community where you can feel confident in your decision to enter life’s next exciting phase. Here, residents enjoy the active and inspiring lifestyle they desire, with fine dining, world-class fitness and incredible amenities. Located within The Orchards, Viamonte keeps you close to all the retail and dining there is to love in Walnut Creek, along with the incomparable resources of the Bay Area.    Learn more about what you can expect at Viamonte by contacting us at 925-621-6600. We are happy to answer any questions you may have, and to arrange for you to visit our Preview Center and model home. Visit our website to learn more about your options.

How to Feel at Home in a Life Plan Community

In most cases, a home is where you feel comfortable and safe. It’s where you relax or invite friends and family over to share great memories. But as you get older, a home can become a worrisome obligation — and it can start to feel less and less like the comforting place you once knew it to be.  By joining a senior living community, especially a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), you can remove the stresses of maintaining a house that can become a major burden in your retirement years. Instead, by moving to a Life Plan CCRC such as Viamonte at Walnut Creek, you can preserve all the touches of home that you love while gaining the new benefits of amenities, services, community, and care that will take your retirement from “stressful” to downright joyful. To learn more about how easy it is to feel at home in a senior living community — and why it’s a better option for many retirees than staying in their current home — read on.

The Challenges of Aging in Place

Staying in your current home (a.k.a. “aging in place”) can pose a number of difficulties, especially if your health or life circumstances change over time. For one thing, home maintenance and repairs can become more costly and tedious, and more difficult to do yourself if your mobility ever becomes compromised. Additionally, aging in place means you are likely to become more isolated from your surrounding community, especially during a time of sheltering in place and social distancing. This can result in reduced access to healthcare services, more difficulty getting around your home or neighborhood, and a more limited social life. (What’s more, studies have shown that decreased social interaction and mental stimulation can result in poorer health outcomes.) On the other hand, moving to a senior living community eases these difficulties and gives you the benefits of a fulfilling lifestyle with comprehensive perks that enable you to be healthier, happier, and more active.

The Comforts of Carefree Senior Living

Living at a Life Plan CCRC, you’ll enjoy top-class features, amenities, and services, all designed to make your retirement experience as enjoyable and meaningful as possible. Life Plan communities often combine on-campus health services (and what’s referred to as a full continuum of care) with beautiful, modern residences — many of which you can customize to fit your own preferences — and such perks as chef-curated dining options; housekeeping, laundry, and home maintenance; security and concierge services; transportation and parking; landscaping; and more.  These special communities tend to feature multiple dining areas, outside gathering spaces, fitness and wellness centers, spas and beauty salons, art and hobby areas, entertainment venues, and a host of other options for personal enrichment and social activity. It’s also common for communities to offer engaging programming such as continuing education courses, card and table games, book and movie clubs, and other activities. And all of this programming takes place in a controlled environment with safety precautions and social distancing measures in place if necessary. More than that, these active senior living communities cover all the little details that make you feel at home — thanks to warm, professional staffers and community leaders who ensure that residents’ needs are met and that day-to-day life at the community reflects the residents’ priorities and values.

Community Life and Care

One of the main reasons why residents love CCRC living so much is the deep-rooted sense of community that is noticeably pervasive at these senior living communities. Life Plan CCRCs attract like-minded individuals who often come from the surrounding local area, are interested in making new and lasting friendships, and are engaged socially with the goal of leading active, healthy lives. Contrasted with the isolated lifestyle of aging in place, life in a CCRC affords you the opportunity to retire among neighbors and friends who welcome you into a true community where people care about each other and help each other thrive.  The other key component of CCRC life — especially at Life Plan CCRCs like Viamonte — is the continuum of care briefly mentioned above. Under this continuing care, residents benefit from Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care services; this enables residents to get the healthcare they need, on campus, even if their healthcare needs change over time. What’s more, Life Plan CCRCs usually include the costs of care in the existing monthly costs and move-in fees of the community, so there are no hidden fees or skyrocketing costs (which are a risk of aging in place or life in non-CCRC retirement communities).

Making it Feel like Home

Even with all of the advantages, adjusting to life in a new community can take some getting used to. Here are some tips to make the transition easier, so that you feel at home from the start.
    • Form your community beforehand. Whether the community is still being built or you are waiting for your move-in date, there are plenty of ways to be connected with your future neighbors before you even arrive. Most communities offer virtual events for future residents to get to know each other. If not, ask the staff to connect you to some of them. You may be surprised at how eager people will be to meet you!
 
  • Choose the programs that bring you joy. Don’t wait until you’ve settled in to start participating in the programs and activities available. Right from the start, take advantage of the opportunity to be in your comfort zone doing something you love — it will make meeting new people that much easier! 
  • Bring your ideas. Take some time before you move in to decide which programs you want to be involved in. If there’s something you’d love to do that isn’t currently being offered, just ask! Most communities rely on their residents to suggest activities and programming that they’d like to participate in–and they’re willing to be creative when large gatherings are prohibited.
  • Bring your favorite things! While it makes sense to do some downsizing before making a move to senior living, be sure to bring the household items that make you feel right at home. 
 

Life at Viamonte

When Viamonte at Walnut Creek opens to the public later in 2020, it will bring a bold new vision in retirement living to California’s Bay Area. Anchored with a walkable neighborhood of shops and restaurants (with the peaks of Mount Diablo as a stunning backdrop), Viamonte will give residents the kind of active, engaged retirement lifestyle they want and deserve — not to mention the peace of mind that they will receive the care and wellness services they need, no matter what their personal health journeys entail.  One of Viamonte’s primary goals is to help residents feel so much peace of mind that they are drastically more comfortable at Viamonte than they would be aging in place in their current homes. Because of the quality of life at Viamonte and the burgeoning community that will flourish at Walnut Creek, Viamonte will provide California retirees with a new and better kind of home and neighborhood. To learn more about Viamonte and how you can join this special community, visit https://viamonteliving.org/ or call 925-621-6600.