Retiring in Comfort
Finding the Right Active-Adult Community
by Susan Flowers
Whether you're retired and looking for a change of scenery,downsizing your current home now that your adult children have moved out, or you just want to be closer to your grandkids, picking up and moving to a new city presents unique challenges for seniors and active adults (commonly defined as those 55 and older). For instance, should you consider a retirement community? Do you want an apartment residence in town or a more spacious spread in the suburbs?
Not to worry. The metro Atlanta area offers a wealth of options, depending on your priorities. Determing those is often the best first step.
So what are the most important factors? If you're like most retirees, empty-nesters or relocating seniors, the right location has everything to do with family.
"Our typical person moving from out of town has children or grandchildren living within five to seven miles," says Mitch Block, director of sales and marketing for the Orchards Group, a developer of communities for active adults. "That’s true of someone who moves here 95 percent of the time."
When proximity to relatives is your top priority, your range of choices is simplified by that ideal five- to seven-mile radius. If not, you’ve got a little more freedom. Where to start? If you’re looking for the comfort and security of an active-adult or retirement development, you’ll need to decide on the type and size of community you prefer.
Which One is Right for You?
The metro area features a number of large retirement communities that take care of just about every need, almost like a cruise ship on land. The Winnwood Retirement Community in Marietta, for example, offers both independent and assisted living, with planned activities, a 9-acre garden and private dining rooms for big gatherings, among other amenities. Winnwood’s Teem Residence evokes the feeling of a luxury hotel, with housekeeping, a fitness center, daily Continental breakfast and dinner, a 24-hour concierge and a business center. There’s even a complimentary shuttle bus for transportation to doctor’s appointments.
Of course, you may prefer to live in a house rather than an apartment building. Residents of Orchards Group developments, for instance, "are looking for a smaller community. They don’t have to have yoga at 11 and bridge at 2," says Mitch Block. Instead, homeowners organize their own activities and can socialize at their own pace.
Large retirement complexes and smaller single family home communities both have great advantages. "It’s really a function of what the buyer wants in their lifestyle," says Block. Not that Orchards Group properties don’t have plenty to do. Residents can enjoy everything from an outdoor pool to bocce ball. Some communities offer the best of both worlds. Park Springs, a DeKalb County community surrounded by Stone Mountain Park, offers five different living options, from condo-style villas to houses, as well as such features as a fitness center with a lap pool, therapy pool and hot tub. The development also boasts a clubhouse with its own library, beauty salon, barber shop, market and on-site banking by Georgia’s Own Credit Union.
Services and Amenities
Once you’ve narrowed down a list of communities, it’s time to start weighing the services each offers, starting with access to medical care. Decatur Christian Towers, a 14-story apartment community for seniors, is located in close proximity to both DeKalb Medical Center and Emory University’s medical services.
Josie Selassie, public relations and events coordinator, says residents can live independently and come and go as they please, secure in the knowledge that support is available to help them age in place and that rehab and other needs can be met quickly and conveniently.
Park Springs offers on-site options for those who require assisted living or more in-depth care, including a full-time geriatrician and a clinic with a full-time nurse practitioner.
"The real benefit for an active retiree," says Marketing Director Kevin Isakson, "is that no matter what changes occur or what health needs may arise, they'll have all the support they need." You'll also want to look at the proximity to grocery shopping, malls and other recreational activities. If you prefer to let someone else do most of the cooking, a setting such as Atria Buckhead or Atria Johnson Ferry, which offer daily meals in a restaurant setting and more than 200 activities a month, could be to your liking.
Debra BenDor, executive director at Atria Johnson Ferry, suggests dropping in unannounced to sample meals for a clue as to what to expect. "Food is an important part of life, so make sure you sample at least two meals in the community you are considering to ensure quality and taste," she advises. "A good rule of thumb I tell people is to visit communities at different times of the day unannounced. Staff is always ready for scheduled visits, but showing up unannounced will give you a true look into community life and give you the best indication of whether or not a community is the right fit for you."
Some communities also offer help in planning your move. Decatur Christian Towers, for instance, provides a service coordinator who can provide advice on moving, assistance in finding doctors, arrangements for local transportation and more.
Other Things to Consider
What are some other ways to ensure that you're making the right choice? Isakson suggests inspecting the stability of the owners and management of a community. "You want to look at how financially stable they are," he says. "You want to make sure that the community is well-managed and is on stable financial footing. Who owns the community, and how active are they? Who's the manager, and how experienced are they?"
Less tangible qualities are important as well, says BenDor. "The feeling you get when visiting should be a good indicator of the quality of life," she says. "Are the residents engaged?"
Is the staff warm and acknowledging? When seeking a new retirement community, it's most important to look for a place where you feel at home. The other residents, staff and employees will become like family, so a caring community with a lively atmosphere should be the first thing on your radar.
"Consideration of the care levels offered, aesthetics of the building and food quality are all very important as well," she continues.
"Remember that when you retire, you are looking for convenience and options to make life easier. Make sure you're considering ease of upkeep and maintenance with an apartment size that won't get overwhelming."
Whether your choice is a subdivision populated with other active adults or a sprawling apartment development, doing your homework and asking the right questions will ensure that you make the best decision. Enjoy your new home in Atlanta!
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Atria Senior Living
Johnson Ferry: 770-958-0570
Decatur Christian Towers
The Orchards Group
Park Springs Communities
Winnwood Retirement Community
RELOCATING TO A NEW CITY
Moving is one of the most stressful events in a person's life.But with a little preparation, your move to a new city doesn't have to be that way. Whether you're relocating for work or just need a change of scenery, here are a few tips to help you keep your sanity
Make a List
There are so many things to do when moving to a new city that it can be difficult to keep track of them all. Sit down and write out a checklist of everything you need to take care of, from logistical issues down to the smallest personal detail: Has your company hired a mover, or do you need to find one? Do you have everything you need to enroll your child in his or her new school? How are you going to transport the family pet?
Get the Lay of the Land
Buy a travel guide and bookmark online resources to help you get to know your new home. Once you're there, take some time to walk around your new neighborhood. Spend a weekend driving to and from work and familiarizing yourself with major roads, highways and local landmarks.
Do Your Homework
If you're moving with your family, make sure to educate yourself on the area's schools, as well as the best neighborhoods for kids. You should also learn which services (water, electricity, sanitation) are provided by the city. Lastly, don't forget to look into nearby parks, restaurants, theaters and other amenities for ways to spend your downtime.
These relocation tips were provided by the City of East Point. The staff at East Point's Economic Development Department is available to provide information and help answer your relocation questions. For more information, call 404-270-7057 or visit www.eastpointcity.org.