Guide to retirement living

Retirement livingPic: Getty

Most of us would like to think that we can enjoy our latter years in the peace and comfort of our own homes. However, health problems can mean that we need extra care and security as we get older.

There is accommodation available for older people, depending on their care needs and ability to live independent lives, so if you are considering your options, or those of a loved one, these are some of the options.

Sheltered housing
Often referred to as retirement housing, this allows residents to live in their own home, but with the added security and assistance of an on-site manager. Specifically designed as housing for older people, most developments range from 20 or 30 properties right up to 300 or more, and the majority are built close to shopping facilities and public transport.

In general, residents can choose to rent or buy, with one, two and three-bedroom properties often available. There are even some developments that include bungalows. While these developments give residents the independence of living in their own home, the manager or warden is there to provide support and advice, and many sheltered housing schemes include social events organised by the manager, including coffee mornings, bingo, entertainment and outings.

Assisted or extra-care living
For those that would like their independence but require a little extra help with day-to-day life, assisted living provides an excellent compromise. It enables those people who have started to struggle to live at home to retain their independence while getting the supervision and assistance they need.

In most cases, that means that the development will usually provide a housekeeping and laundry service, and have meals prepared, whether they prefer to eat in the restaurant or in their own apartment. It is possible to rent or buy a property within the scheme, but utility costs are often included, which means there are no worries about unexpected bills landing on the doorstep.

For those that require a little extra care, there is usually an on-site domiciliary care team that can provide additional help and support. Some schemes include facilities such as a shop, gym or hobby room, allowing residents to continue or take up new activities, and as with sheltered housing, social activities are usually on offer.

Whichever option suits best, it is always a good idea to visit the accommodation in advance of moving in. The local authority or social services department should be able to point you in the right direction, though there are private schemes available as well.

As well as the aesthetics and atmosphere of the place, it's important to check details of the health and safety standards, wheelchair and walking frame access, and its proximity to shopping facilities or family. And it is absolutely essential that you know exactly what you are getting for your service charge, so do be sure to read, or have a family member check through the details.

Have you or a loved one recently moved into retirement accommodation? What advice would you give on finding the right scheme? Leave your comments below...