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Living Magazines retirement home

What to look for in your retirement home.

By the time you’re thinking about retiring you will probably have done quite a bit of home hunting, but thinking  about a retirement home is a different matter.

So how to choose?

You could choose a retirement village or development. Here, there will be other people of retirement age, there may  be a warden on hand for emergencies, and the added bonus of activities and facilities on site.

A retirement home or apartment might offer you independent living, and lower running costs, but with fewer added-on facilities.

Things to think about…

Facilities: If you retire in your late 60s you could have at least another 20 years to enjoy. Your mobility may become affected, so having facilities and activities on tap is useful – including beauty salons and hairdressers, cafes and even  gyms. There may be activities such as yoga and wine tasting, and even an allotment or gardens to tend.

Care on tap: Some offer a warden service, others might have someone on call but off-site. You may get round-the-clock care, while others have a programme of variable care, which can increase as and when you require it. You may
find developments with an element of nursing care and even facilities for dementia sufferers.

Getting out and about: A lovely rural location sounds idyllic, but if you can’t get yourself out and about, you’ll be  stuck there. Being close to a nearby town for doctors or hospital appointments may become a more pressing need as you age. Some developments offer a shuttle service into town. Service charges: Most of these developments have a  service charge, so do take that into account when working out your finances. This charge will cover maintenance, as  well as activities, on-site care, grounds maintenance and so on. Be sure you are clear about exactly what it includes.

Selling on: Should you need to go into a nursing home, or when you die, it’s likely you will want your family to sell  your home and divide the proceeds as you wish. Be aware that there can be extra charges when this happens – it is often called a deferred management charge. Robert Stringer points out that ‘most of these homes are leasehold, and when you sell there can be a lot of paperwork – more than when selling a normal property’. Talking of which, do
ensure you update your Will when you move into your retirement home.

Planning ahead

Robert Stringer, of Stringer Mann Chartered Financial Planners in Berkhamsted, is a member of the Society of Later  Life Advisers (SOLLA). He advises that you start considering your retirement accommodation sooner rather than
later – it may even be something you look ahead to when you are in your 20s and 30s.

Living Magazines Pensioner swimmerBut certainly, he says: ‘We often say to people in their 50s and 60s, you need to keep enough money for care. When  you are selling your home to buy a retirement home, you should leave enough for service charges and care. Care can cost as much as £1,000 a week, even if it is in your own home. It’s always important to work out what your next step  will be. At 80 you may still be quite active, travelling away on holiday etc. By the age of 85 your needs may have
changed considerably.

‘People will often come to us too late – when a parent has had a fall or has dementia – to try to work out what the  next step will be. Planning is important – make sure you have Powers of Attorney in place too.

‘We also always advise that you ensure you are getting the help you need. If you have a medical need then care is free  at the point of delivery – so Continuing Healthcare Assessments are vital. There are benefits such as attendance  allowance and registered nursing care contributions too.

‘The most important thing is to get expert advice as early as possible.’

Stringer Mann Chartered Financial Planners is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James’s Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the group’s wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the group’s website www.sjp.co.uk/products.