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Considering a Retirement Community? The Where, When, Why, and How.

By Brian Tenney, Executive Director, Westminster at Lake Ridge

Brian Tenney, Executive Director, Westminster at Lake Ridge

When should someone start considering a move to a retirement community? Is there a right time?

This is the million-dollar question with more than one correct answer. Many people focus so much on when that they may not take the time to consider the where, why and how. We find that all four are important and should be part of one’s planning.

The Why:

What advice would you give to a family member/friend who wants to start a conversation with their loved one about exploring a move?

Sometimes this can be a tough conversation, and one that many times is started by the adult children. Their parents may ask “why do you think we need to move?” Or perhaps it is a spouse or partner that has been the caregiver and wants to start the conversation. This encompasses more than simply determining if they want to stay at home or move elsewhere. It is important to understand their loved one’s interests beyond the level of care needed to determine the best options available.

The Where:

What is the difference between a continuing care retirement community and an assisted living community?

At a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), residents can transfer between independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing, when they would benefit from more assistance. By remaining in the same community, they retain their friends who can more easily stop by for a visit. The same goes for the staff who already know and have established relationships with the residents who live there. This makes the transition and recovery process easier when temporarily or permanently transferring to another level of care.

An assisted living community commonly consists of one building, usually providing only assistance with day-to-day activities. If someone requires a higher level of care, they would be transferred to a skilled nursing community likely unfamiliar to them.

Whether someone is considering a CCRC or assisted living community, it is important to visit different options as soon as retirement living becomes an option. This provides more time and less stress to comfortably choose the right community for you or your family member.

As a CCRC, what makes Westminster at Lake Ridge different?

Our community has 25 years of experience in serving older adults in Northern Virginia. Most independent living residents are actively involved on campus by joining singing groups, fitness groups, committees, etc., that enhance the residents’ lives. Our culinary team is led by a great Executive Chef who provides an exquisite dining experience to all of our residents by incorporating some of their suggestions and preferences into the menu. As a CCRC, if someone needs skilled nursing services, we can facilitate a seamless transition when appropriate.

The When:

Assisted living has been described as independent living with benefits. Can you talk about what that means and when someone would make that transition?

Individuals in assisted living generally need help with some daily activities. They can still live their lives as they desire and remain involved in what they want to do. However, if they do need support at any point in the day, nursing staff is available to assist.

Transitioning to assisted living can enhance independence, especially for those who benefit from a more supportive environment. Compassionate staff is available 24 hours a day to ensure assistance is available whenever they need it, giving residents the freedom to focus on performing their daily activities as they please.

The How:

How does a CCRC like Westminster at Lake Ridge help with planning, moving and settling into the community?

We provide guidance, support and connections to vetted professional contacts who help with each step of becoming part of our community. Leading up to the move, we invite future residents to various events, dining experiences, and a thorough orientation to become acclimated with current residents and the community itself. Once moved in, new residents are connected with a Westminster at Lake Ridge Sponsor (a more seasoned resident) to help get comfortable, find their way around campus, and get introduced to new friends and neighbors!



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