Things to consider when choosing a senior living option

Many people of retirement age still associate senior living communities with ‘jelly and custard’ nursing homes and a lack of freedom and independence.

Luckily, retirement and senior living communities have come a long way from this antiquated misconception – with communities designed to meet the lifestyle needs of modern older people.

Premium healthcare, community events, stylish décor and even gourmet meals now often feature in senior living offerings.

However, a crucial question remains: What factors should you take into account when deciding which senior living option is right for you?


The cost of senior living options range from entry-level to premium, but even these premium options are often more affordable than one would originally assume. One such affordable financing option favoured by an increasing number of upmarket retirement developments is life rights.

Life rights are a way of buying the right to live in a home in a senior living community. This gives the holder of the right the security of tenure for the rest of their life. With no bond, insurance, special levies, taxes, or maintenance costs to pay, an up-market senior living option may be more affordable than home ownership.

Senior communities usually offer a choice of units, homes and apartments to suit each individual’s financial situation. Upon selling their home and choosing to hold life rights, people often find that they can enjoy a more prosperous lifestyle than anticipated.


Senior living doesn’t have to mean being in an ‘old age home’. Many senior living communities are aware that retired people don’t want to give up their independence, they simply want a structure that is beneficial to their needs and preferred lifestyles.

Retirement neighbourhoods can use technology, expert service providers, and a wealth of options for living, eating, enjoying exercise and entertainment to ensure that residents are independent and happy.


Senior living communities lessen isolation, provide security, community and care. Especially during COVID-19 restrictions, older people have faced intense isolation.

Living in a senior community can help residents create relationships with peers, carers, and service providers, and feel less alone.

Disaster protection

In areas like Cape Town, protection from disasters such as the Table Mountain Fire are vitally important.

People should make sure to choose a living option that has taken measures to prevent these threats and protect their residents.

Facilities should reduce the risk of financial risk by being properly insured. Protective measures may include planting fire-resistant trees and shrubs, and creating a buffer zone with fleshy-leaved ground covers, large aloes, and hedging plants.

Health benefits

Enjoying leisure activities with friends, such as playing bridge or participating in a book club, has been found to protect cognitive skills. Physical activity, such as walking and hiking, gardening or doing yoga, is one of the most important things you can do for your health.

Senior living communities also reduce the instances of falls, one of the leading causes of injury and death.

The likelihood of a fall going unnoticed in a senior community is low, well-lit and clutter-free living areas prevent falls, and exercise and physical therapy can reduce their instances and severity.

Customisable experience

Many of today’s senior living communities don’t only offer a one-size-fits-all experience. Residents can often choose the type of home and the exact level of service and care they need. These can be adjusted as time goes on.

There are also care services discreetly available for when they’re needed, and hospitality services, as well as a variety of activities to choose from.


Whether or not a person can bring their pet along can be a deciding factor for some people. Many senior living communities allow pets, or in other cases, certain types of pets such as one small dog. Some facilities may offer care for pets if residents cannot care for their pets alone.

Medical care

Before choosing a senior living community, a person should be physically and cognitively assessed by a qualified nurse at the living facility. They should also confirm the community’s procedures in the event of an emergency, their disaster preparedness, and which hospitals will be used for admission if necessary.

This will help ensure a person receives the right level of care and can avoid revisions to their routines after they move in.

Services and amenities

The available services and amenities may play a large role in the type of lifestyle a person can enjoy. Hospitality, dining, exercise and wellness and medication management are typical offerings.

Amenities like gyms or swimming pools, dining areas, libraries and hair salons can help a person maintain their preferred routines, or even pursue a healthier lifestyle.

The best advice that I can give is to ensure the facility you choose is in line with the type of life you want to live.