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Nearly half of Fort Myers, Florida, residents are 65 or older. Seniors move here to enjoy the lush waterfront views, year-round warmth, and active cultural life. But over time, many seniors find that their homes or condos become a burden instead of a luxury. If you’re contemplating a move to assisted living in Fort Myers, whether for yourself or someone you love, here’s how to choose the perfect community.

Survey Your Lifestyle

Ninety percent of seniors say they want to age in their homes. Most cite their need for independence and an active lifestyle as motivating factors. Yet for many seniors, living at home actually becomes a barrier to independence.

If you can no longer drive, you may become dependent on others to go to doctors’ appointments, socialize, and take in Fort Myers’s fine dining. Even if you’re able to drive, nighttime driving can become a burden, and the costs of insurance and gasoline may be an impediment to doing all you wish.

Seniors with health concerns may be anxious about enjoying their homes and gardens, particularly if they’ve fallen before. Your friends and family may be increasingly concerned about your well-being, and you may wonder if you’ve made the right decision.

The good news is that senior living communities offer more socialization opportunities than you will ever have living in your home. You’ll also have access to classes, fine dining, and transportation that can preserve your independence. The right community can support you to continue growing and evolving during an exciting next chapter.

So take an honest look at your lifestyle. Is it bringing you satisfaction? If not, which changes would yield a happier life? Contemplating what a better life looks like can help you begin exploring senior living options.

List Your Needs First

Your next-door neighbor might love her knitting circle. Maybe you’re more interested in yoga, gourmet meals, or exploring genealogy. You’re not like your friends, neighbors, or family. So don’t choose a senior living community that adopts a one-size-fits-all approach.

Before you begin researching your options, know what you need. No matter how great a community is, it’s not right for you if it can’t address these needs. Some questions that can help you identify your needs include:

  • What activities do I hope to enjoy after I move?
  • What is the most frustrating thing about my life right now? Is there a living arrangement that could resolve the issue?
  • When I picture myself relaxed and happy, what do my surroundings look like?
  • When have I been happiest? What was my life like then? How can I recreate that scenario as much as possible?
  • What would make me truly excited to move to a new place? Fewer expenses? Gorgeous accommodations? Gourmet meals? Plenty of activities?
  • What sorts of people do I like to spend time with?
  • How social am I? Do I prefer an active, bustling community or occasional long walks with a close friend?
  • How much assistance do I need right now? Do I have any reason to believe that assistance level might change over time?

Take a Tour

The right community for you is one that meets your needs and personality. To truly know that a Fort Myers assisted living community is a good fit, you need to visit the community and picture yourself there. How do you feel? Is moving here something you could look forward to?

As you take a tour, ask for clear, specific information about what you can expect from community life. Ask to view a unit for the quoted price, and inquire about additional amenities and pricing for those. Ask also about food, assistance levels, class offerings, and transportation into Fort Myers. This will eventually be your community. So you should feel comfortable asking questions.

Some other strategies that can help you determine whether you’ve found the right community include:

  • Talk to residents. They should be excited about their lives and eager to tell you about the community. Consider whether these are people you might want as neighbors. Every community has its own culture. Make sure the community culture is a good fit for your personality.
  • Talk to the staff—not just the person giving the tour. These are the people whom you’ll rely on in the coming years. Do they seem friendly and eager to help?
  • Eat a meal at the community. Don’t just rely on assurances that the meals are nutritious and delicious. See whether they appeal to your palate and nutritional needs! Bonus tip: Eating a meal in the community gives you a helpful window into community life. Do people come to a community center to eat, or mostly retire to their homes? There’s no right answer, but one approach might feel more comfortable to you than another.
  • Keep an eye on details. Visit a restroom to see if it’s clean. Walk around outside to see how well maintained the property is. Little details tell you a lot about how well the community is maintained. Consider also whether the community is accessible. Are there wheelchair ramps and grab bars? Or are there areas you won’t be able to access if you have a mobility issue?

Get Serious About Finances

The decision to move to assisted living affects more than just your lifestyle and health. It can also affect your financial plans. Get a clear cost breakdown from the community, and make sure you understand the specific price of any add-ons you might want. Then compare this price package to your monthly budget. You may find that assisted living actually offers some financial savings. Even when it doesn’t, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and some other benefit programs may fund all or a portion of the cost. A fulfilling next chapter may be more affordable than you think.

Barrington Terrace of Fort Myers offers luxurious living with the support you need. Our seniors enjoy an engaged, active lifestyle, beautiful homes, and the security of knowing help is always available. We can’t wait to meet you. Give us a call today!

Teresa Keating, RN

About the Author: Teresa Keating, RN

Teresa is a registered nurse with 30 years’ experience working with the senior population in England, Tennessee and Florida. Originally from Weymouth, Dorset, England she has been involved in all areas of healthcare in a post-acute care setting including hospitals, rehabilitation and home health. Her experience includes being a business owner, marketing director and a director of nursing. Teresa is married to Gary for over 20 years and has two children.