The decision to move into a specialist retirement housing development can be a difficult one for many people to make. They may fear loss of independence, loss of privacy or may consider that it is just not for them. Alternatively, some people may be relieved that they no longer have the burden of maintaining their former home – in most retirement developments this is now done for you.
Here at Mature Times we are constantly contacted by people regarding retirement living options and from our experience there are the three key questions that people ask. The first of these is ‘will I be happy living in a community? The second question surrounds what care and support is available and the final question relates to the cost and whether people will be able to afford to live there. So let’s look at these issues.
One of the benefits of specialist retirement properties is that you are moving into a community of like-minded people all of a similar age. This can be of great comfort if you live alone as you have a ready-made community on your doorstop – many of these developments will have a programme of social events that are organised throughout the week.
Consequently, you need never feel lonely or isolated from society and you can join in with as much or as little as you like. Furthermore, if you are feeling unwell, or need help from time to time, there are always people on hand that can assist you – for those currently living alone often this is not the case.
However, let’s not kid ourselves – if you have lived in your own home for a number of years the move to retirement property can take some getting used to and living alongside others isn’t for everyone. If this is a concern for you, why not look at those developments that will allow you to go and stay for a few days, so you can get a taster for what it’s like – this is often the best way to decide whether it will be right for you.
Care and assistance
As we get older it is inevitable that we will all need varying degrees of care and assistance, so check what help is available should you be in this position sometime in the future. Some schemes will have ‘extra care’ on site and an element of this may be included within your rent or service charge – others may have no help at all.
If the latter is the case then, if you do need help and assistance, you will have to bring this in yourself and will therefore have to take into consideration the cost of doing this. However, it is fair to say that for most people, buying in care in this way is probably a cheaper and better option than making the move to a care home.
And finally – can I afford to live in such a property? Most schemes will be on a leasehold basis – therefore, even if you buy your property outright, you will not own the freehold – you will have a lease that allows you to occupy the property for a set number of years – 999 year leases are generally the norm.
What this means is that you will pay a service charge on a monthly basis to the owner of the freehold of the property.
However, in return for payment of this service charge, the freeholder will be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the building, the communal areas and the grounds. To many people this is a big attraction, as they don’t have to worry about the cost and upkeep themselves.
The other thing to consider is your own personal financial situation. Do you claim all the benefits that you are entitled to? Just because you might own your own home doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t certain benefits that you may be able to claim.
The big one that most people don’t consider is Attendance Allowance – so always check out your entitlements – after all they are just that – and if you qualify then you should receive them.
By Aidan Sawley