How to Plan When Choosing a Retirement Community

By Brian Burger

Our lives are filled with big decisions. For seniors, there’s one decision that’s nearly universal: should I consider moving to a senior living community? Everyone approaches the topic in their own way. Some with the help of friends and family — others through inward reflection. For almost everyone, though, it comes with a lot of wondering where to begin.

Knowing what to look for and what to ask can give seniors and their families the confidence and knowledge they need to make a great decision. Starting the search early allows seniors to make decisions comfortably and on their timeline.

“Those first steps towards exploring senior communities can be intimidating,” said Brian Burger, marketing representative for St. Ann’s Community. “If a person wants to come in just to get information, we absolutely encourage them to and seeing places in person can take away so much of the mystery. It’s a great opportunity to ask your questions.”
So what questions should a person ask when exploring a senior living community? What should you look for during your visit?

One of the most important things to consider is location. Are you near family and friends or shopping and medical services? In many cases, a person can determine whether or not a location is desirable without visiting. Still, it’s important to experience it in person to see what environment it offers, rural, city or somewhere in between. How is it laid out? What is the atmosphere like?

Senior communities come in a variety of configurations. For example, the campus at St. Ann’s Community at Cherry Ridge sprawls across 41 wooded acres, allowing for more activity and independence due to its design. Other communities like St. Ann’s Community at Chapel Oaks are designed so residents can enjoy dining or activities without ever having to go outside. With connections to the club-style community center, you can get to your morning yoga class and leave the winter coat behind.

“The setting was top of mind for St. Ann’s when our Cherry Ridge Campus was being planned,” said Burger. “It’s a unique campus for the area by design. There are woods, ponds and the ability to really enjoy the outdoor spaces and views, all in addition to the other features you’d expect from a senior community.”

Seniors should also look into what extra services a community offers. Examples include transportation, on-site physicians, trips to shopping or entertainment, on- and off-site activities and a wide array of safety features. Independent living communities may offer any or all of these services. Each place is different, so doing some early research is recommended.

“It’s so important to ask what a community can do to help a person stay comfortable and happy without having to sacrifice any independence,” said Burger. “A great example is our transportation services. Many of our residents drive independently, but on a snowy Rochester day, our team of drivers has warm cars, and they’re ready to get people to their destinations safely and stress-free.”

Above all else, a person should consider their own future when choosing a community. Needs can sometimes take unexpected turns, triggering an avalanche of changes and leaving seniors feeling they’ve lost control. When choosing a retirement community, it’s always best to find one that offers a full continuum of care.

A full continuum of care means that a community offers more than independent living options. Should you need help with the daily activities of living or require skilled nursing care, you will have those options on the same campus. Many seniors and their families want to stay in the community they chose even if they can’t stay in the same apartment or cottage they originally selected. And in a continuum of care, established residents will receive priority access to other levels of care as a member of the community.

“It’s a great way to maintain control over all aspects of your future,” said Burger. “When you choose a community like St. Ann’s with our full continuum of care, you’re making a choice about not only your current living arrangement, but you’re also ensuring that more help is available for you in the future should you ever need it.”

For seniors, having a plan in place is one of the most important things they can do. In the Rochester area, there’s no shortage of senior living options to consider. Staying ahead of the game and narrowing down their choices sooner than later allows seniors to make these critical decisions on their own terms.

“It all starts with someone giving us a quick phone call,” said Burger. “We’re always here to help people with these decisions. It doesn’t matter if they’re trying to plan for a move next week, five years from now or if they just have some questions. It’s our job and our pleasure to help.”


Brian Burger is a marketing representative for St. Ann’s Community at Cherry Ridge in Webster. Contact him at bburger@mystanns.com or 585-697-6702 or visit www.stannscommunity.com.Brian Burger is a marketing representative for St. Ann’s Community at Cherry Ridge in Webster. Contact him at bburger@mystanns.com or 585-697-6702 or visit www.stannscommunity.com.