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Exciting Options for Senior Living

As the state with the largest land area east of the Mississippi River, Georgia boasts a temperate climate, a rich history, and a wide variety of cultures. To the north, the state is dominated by rocky mountain ranges and verdant hills. The middle of the state offers rich farmland with plenty of crops and lots of livestock. And to the south, Georgia is home to wetlands and lush beaches. If you’re considering retirement in Georgia, you have more options than you might realize.

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Whether you choose the busy shops and delicious restaurants of a suburb such as Marietta, the bustling city life of Atlanta, or a quietly expanding farm area such as Canton, there is something for everyone in this huge state. Here’s how to choose the perfect senior living community for your needs.

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About Georgia

Much of Georgia was burned to the ground during the Civil War in General Sherman’s infamous March to the Sea. Sherman burned all of the buildings in Atlanta and in the middle of the state, but stopped the burning in Savannah. The result is a decidedly divided state. North of Savannah, everything is new. But once you hit Savannah, you’ll see old buildings and plenty of historic relics.

Georgia isn’t a monolith with a single culture, climate, or environment. It boasts several distinct regions, including:

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The Blue Ridge Mountains

The rural Blue Ridge Mountains at the northeast end of the state. Here you’ll find hiking, camping, and lush mountain living.

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The Appalachian Plateau

The Appalachian Plateau on the northwest end of the state. This is the bottom of the Appalachian Mountains and is a rocky, picturesque region that is sparsely populated.

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The Ridge and Valley

The Ridge and Valley of the rural northwest region of the state.

Piedmont

The Piedmont

The Piedmont in the central region of the state. This includes Atlanta and its many suburbs, including Marietta, Stone Mountain, and Lithonia. This region is known for its museums and cultural life, and as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement.

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The Coastal Plains

The Coastal Plains of Southern Georgia. The upper coastal plains includes many rural farming areas, as well as marshes and wetlands. The lower coastal plains includes Savannah and the barrier islands. Georgia’s barrier islands are full of wildlife and greenery. Cumberland Island boasts an abundance of wildlife, including wild horses.  

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Georgia is home to more than a million seniors

More than the total population of some states. With so many seniors, there are plenty of opportunities to meet new friends, start meaningful organizations, and even find love. Yet Georgia is a large state, and seniors are often isolated from one another. According to the America’s Health Rankings 2018 survey, Georgia is one of the worst states for senior loneliness and isolation—ranked 39th of all states.

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However, Georgia’s seniors are taking many steps toward good health.

The same report found that Georgia seniors tend to see their doctor and dentist regularly, and that the state has a low rate of excessive senior drinking. This points to a positive health outlook. To reduce the risk of loneliness, many of Georgia’s seniors might benefit from the friendly, community-oriented environment of a senior living community. Georgia boasts some of the best senior living options in the nation.

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Health Care Options

As the home of Atlanta’s sprawling metropolis, Georgia has grown steadily to accommodate its residents’ health care needs. Emory University Hospital one of the nation's top-ranked hospitals in many areas, including adult specialties and adult procedures. The hospital has also given birth to numerous satellite clinics, including the nationally respected Memory Clinic, which specializes in Alzheimer’s, dementia, and unusual cognitive conditions.

Seniors who live in the suburbs, on the coast, or in more rural regions of the state often travel to Emory for care. But there are many excellent hospitals closer to home, too. Those include:

Wellstar Kennestone Hospital

Wellstar Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, which is ranked fifth in the state. Kennestone boasts a wide range of clinics and a huge range of specialists, including in geriatric medicine.

Northside Hospital Healthcare System

Northside Hospital Healthcare System is a network of medical facilities in the Metro Atlanta, Georgia, region, comprising three acute-care hospitals and more than 150 outpatient facilities to provide a full range of medical services.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center

Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, the third-ranked hospital in the state of Georgia, which has an excellent cardiovascular surgery department and a strong roster of oncologists.

Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center

Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center in Athens, which consistently ranks highly for patient satisfaction.

As in all states, seniors in Georgia are eligible to choose among the state’s Medicare programs.

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Senior Resources

Georgia’s Division of Aging Services boasts a number of resources for seniors and the people who love them. The agency has designed a unique blueprint for managing the state’s burgeoning dementia problem. You can read the full report and learn more about Georgia-specific senior resources here.

Much to the chagrin of caregivers and loved ones, elder abuse and neglect continues to be a problem in Georgia, like in most other states. Nationwide, about 10 percent of elders face some form of abuse. Georgia’s Adult Protective Services takes elder abuse seriously. Not only does it investigate allegations; it also offers numerous resources to seniors and their caregivers. To anonymously report abuse, click here.

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Things to Do in Georgia

Stereotypes about the South abound. Many people unfamiliar with Georgia believe there’s Atlanta, and then there’s everything else—and that “everything else” is nothing but a bunch of farms.

Although farms are abundant in Georgia, so too is so much else. It’s a bustling hub of art and culture. Its music scene gave birth to international stars as diverse as Alan Jackson, Little Richard, and Outkast. Georgia is also home to a vibrant film and television industry, with many analysts calling it the Hollywood of the South.

So no matter what you’re interested in, there’s something to do in Georgia. Here are some of the best options:

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Shopping

Shopping options in Georgia are virtually limitless, with interesting choices for every price point scattered across the state. Some of the best options include:

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  • Factory outlets such as North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville and Tanger Outlets in Locust Grove.

  • Town squares across the state, which boast local artists and interesting boutiques. Check out the toy stores and children’s boutiques on the Marietta Square. Explore art, antiques, and clothing on the Roswell Square. Comb through vintage offerings, handmade art, and hipster-inspired fashions in Little Five Points. Or enjoy an eclectic variety of art, toys, and even pet gifts on the Decatur Square.

  • Georgia’s malls are the stuff of legends. Enjoy upscale shopping at Phipps Plaza. Or enjoy designer shops, discount houses, and fine dining all under one roof at Lenox Square. It’s hard to beat Town Center in Kennesaw if you’re looking for a cozy, safe, walkable suburban mall. Or if you want a little bit of everything, head up to the Mall of Georgia.

  • Some of the best shopping in Georgia is seasonal. As the home to hundreds of festivals and markets, Georgia boasts a rotating roster of independent artisans and craft dealers. Some of the best festivals include the Inman Park Festival in the spring, the Indie Craft Experience in the winter, the Country Living Fair in the fall, and the Piedmont Park Festival in the summer. Love reading? Then you can’t miss the Decatur Book Festival Labor Day weekend.

  • When fall rolls around join in on apple picking in north Georgia. Hillcrest Orchard and Farm is family-owned and operated, and filled with fun for the everyone. Pick your own apples during the Apple Pickin’ Jubilee each weekend. BJ Reece Orchards is one of the only orchards that offer U-Pick during the week. They also have their petting farm open during the week as well.

Dining

Dining

Atlanta’s restaurant scene is among the best and most competitive in the nation. But it’s not just Atlanta that offers amazing restaurants. Georgia is a highly diverse state, so a wide range of ethnic foods, vegetarian and vegan options, and old-fashioned southern fare are available throughout the state. Here are some of the best options for quality dining:

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  • Buckhead is one of Atlanta's key restaurant districts, boasting everything from fine dining to laid-back cafes. Check out the Atlanta Fish Market for world-class seafood year-round.

  • Marietta is home to a wide range of chain restaurants and familiar comfort foods. It’s also home to the world-renowned Marietta Diner, with its 10-page menu, iconic lights, and homestyle pies.

  • Decatur, an artsy suburb of grown-up hippies and young creatives, is home to a wide range of restaurants. Check out Raging Burrito for quality Tex-Mex, Leon’s Full Service for a trendy seasonal menu, or Parker’s on Ponce for elegant fine dining.

  • Enjoy delicious wines and upscale bar food at Peachtree City’s Grinds and Wines. Or enjoy the best of Peachtree City’s seafood scene at the Georgia Shrimp Co.

  • Visit downtown Canton for a surprisingly diverse restaurant scene. Check out the Riverstone Corner Bistro for delicious bistro-style food. Or enjoy a delicious steak at the Union Hill Grill.

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Arts and Culture

Atlanta is home to hundreds of museums, play houses, symphonies, ballet companies, and other artistic and performing arts hubs. Some of the best include:

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History and Activism

As the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the home of Jimmy Carter, Georgia has a long and rich history of activism. Check out the following history centers:

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Travel

Georgia is full of great options for day trips, long weekends, and family pilgrimages. Some of the best options include:

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  • Visiting the historic exhibits and shops in Savannah. Savannah is just a quick car ride away from Tybee Island, a quiet and lovely beach town. As home to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Savannah is a great stop for burgeoning artists.

  • Visiting the wildlife preserves and coastal wetlands at Cumberland, Jekyll, or one of Georgia’s other barrier islands. If you arrive at the right time, you might see sea turtles laying eggs.

  • Visiting the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains. Try camping by the water. Or take a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway and spend the evening at a sleepy bed and breakfast.

  • Visiting Stone Mountain Park. Built around the world’s largest granite mound, there’s something here for everyone—from camping and fishing to water sports and historic sites.

  • Visiting the sacred Etowah Indian Mounds. This Native American burial ground showcases the history of Georgia and tells the often-forgotten tale of Georgia’s indigenous peoples.

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Time With the Grandkids 

Georgia is a decidedly kid-friendly state, with something to do in every town and at every time of year. Some of the best options include:

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  • Southeastern Railway Museum. This train-themed museum features permanent train exhibits, train rides, and an ever-changing roster of seasonal events, such as breakfast with Santa.

  • Children’s Museum of Atlanta. This hands-on museum features performances, interactive exhibits, and art stations for all ages.

  • Center for Puppetry Arts. This performing arts center features puppetry that appeals to kids and complex stories that can capture the attention even of puppet-skeptical adults.

  • Little Shop of Stories, Decatur children’s bookstore. This shop offers adult-friendly books, too, as well as regular storytime and numerous kid-friendly events.

  • Legoland Discovery Center. For little builders and Lego lovers, this museum and activity center is a slice of paradise.
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Sports

No matter where you live in Georgia or which sports you love, chances are there’s a sporting event you’ll enjoy nearby. Some of Georgia’s sports teams include:

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Team sports are big business throughout Georgia. Many high school football teams are highly competitive, with entire communities coming out to support them. College sports are also popular, with the rivalry between Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia dominating many conversations in the fall.

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Travel & Getting Around

Travel and transportation options in Georgia vary a lot depending on where you live. Seniors in Atlanta have ready access to MARTA, a bus and rail system that serves most areas inside the I-285 perimeter, as well as some suburbs. Seniors living in suburbs such as Marietta may be able to take a bus to MARTA. CobbLinc, for example, connects Marietta seniors to the MARTA system. ATLTransit offers additional transit options, as well as a comprehensive guide to travel within the Atlanta rail and bus system.

Seniors living in rural areas have less access to public transit, though there are some options. Seniors living in Canton and other areas of Cherokee county can access the Cherokee Area Transportation System (CATS). The Athens Transit System, which is similar to MARTA, includes buses and rails and exclusively serves Athens and Clarke County.

Georgia’s Aging and Disability Resource Center can connect seniors to other transportation options, including private drivers, publicly funded buses, and services that may be covered by insurance.

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Types of Senior Living in Georgia

So what are your senior living options in Georgia? Senior living comes in many flavors, and the right option for you depends on your needs and health goals. The most popular options include:

Home Health Care

Home Health Care

Home health care is assistance and care you receive in your home. It includes a broad continuum of services. Seniors with relatively few needs might get help preparing meals or bathing a few times a week. Those with more intensive needs and the means to pay for them might opt for 24/7 in-home nursing care. Home health care is a great option for seniors who are happy in their homes and have family nearby, but who need a little extra help.

Adult Day Care

Adult Day Care

Adult day care offers care, usually on an as-needed basis, for seniors during the day. Senior caregivers often use this option when they are working, tending to children, or otherwise unable to care for the seniors they love. In most cases, adult day care is for seniors with intensive needs. However, some adult day care programs offer activities and programs for seniors in relatively good health.

Independent Living

Independent Living

Independent living, just as the name implies, allows seniors to live independently in an active senior community. There are usually a wide range of activities such as social events and classes. Many independent living communities also offer transportation, volunteer opportunities, and community outreach. Seniors who are in basically good health often choose independent living when they feel isolated or bored, or when they worry about what might happen to them in the event of a medical emergency.

Assisted Living

Assisted Living

Assisted living offers additional assistance to seniors who need help with daily activities such as bathing or getting dressed. Seniors still retain significant independence and can often participate in a rotating list of community activities. Assisted living is ideal for seniors with serious health issues who hope to remain as independent as possible.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) offer progressive care based on the needs of their residents. Many seniors move into CCRCs when they are independent and healthy. As the senior’s needs change, the community offers more care, including assisted living and sometimes memory care. This is a good option for seniors who hope to age in place but who worry about significant medical needs.

Personal Care

Personal Care

Personal care homes offer care in a small, home-like setting. Seniors usually live with 4-6 other people, and care is tailored to their needs. Because personal care homes are small, they tend not to offer classes or socials, but often provide transportation. Seniors who choose personal care homes often say other residents feel like family.

Skilled Nursing

Skilled Nursing

Skilled nursing communities are for seniors with serious medical issues that require daily or recurring care. For example, a senior with a spinal cord injury might choose skilled nursing to get the care they need. These communities sometimes offer activities and socials, but the focus is on addressing a senior’s immediate health needs.

Assisted Living with Memory Care

Assisted Living with Memory Care

People with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have complex needs. They may struggle with activities of daily living, anxiety, depression, and isolation. Memory or dementia care communities keep these seniors safe while offering fellowship, support, and lots of activities. These communities are ideal for seniors with mild or moderate dementia who need regular supervision but who also need an outlet for their emotions and an antidote to boredom and loneliness.

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Where to Start Your Search for Senior Living

The search for the right senior living community can take some time.

Some great options for getting a recommendation include:

  • Doctors or therapists
  • Senior centers
  • Loved ones
  • Senior publications
  • Social media

Research each community. Read online reviews and blog posts. Call if you have more questions. Then schedule a tour. This is your chance to see what life in the community is really like. Most seniors find that taking a loved one with them helps them digest information better and ask more questions. To get the most out of your tour, schedule it during a meal or other community event.

Ater your tour, try making a list of pros and cons. Narrow down your list and consider visiting your top choices again. Trust your gut, and choose the community that feels right to you. Just make sure you begin the search early enough to allow sufficient time. Seniors who have a chronic or progressive illness, for example, should consider beginning the search before they need care.

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The Cost of Senior Living

In a state as large and diverse as Georgia, senior living communities serve as hubs of community activity, socialization, and more. They bring seniors from distant locations together, offering a wide range of activities and hobbies tailored to the desires of the seniors they serve.

For many seniors, financial barriers are a major concern. At least 10 percent of seniors in Georgia live in poverty. Many more live on a fixed income or rely on small pensions and meager savings. Senior living, however, may be more affordable than you think. It rolls all of the costs of daily living into a single price tag, eliminates your mortgage, and removes unexpected expenses such as flooded basements or electrical issues.

Moreover, Medicaid, some private disability programs, employee assistance programs, long-term care insurance, veteran assistance programs, and some other programs may fund all or a portion of senior living. Some seniors even find they have more money in their pockets—and to spend on their families—after transitioning to a senior community.

For help calculating the costs of senior living, try our senior living calculator.

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The Arbor Company would love to help you find a senior living community that meets your needs.

To learn more or schedule a tour, give us a call. Or better yet, stop in for one of our many social activities! We would love to meet you!

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