When is right time to move to a senior retirement community?

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What age qualifies one as being defined as a "senior" citizen? Is it 65, the year that triggers Medicare benefits? Is it another number, say 70, 80 or 90? Or are you considered elderly if you lack mobility, are consistently forgetful or have compromising physical health issues?

Most people focus on the number, which can be misleading. Today, 65 is not old, but back in the 1930s it was considered ancient. Today, people are living longer for many reasons, so the age definition of "senior" needs to change with the times.

Have you ever heard Satchel Paige's rhetorical question, "How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?" Well, how old do you think you would be today? Remember, there's no wrong answer.

We are all "aging" in some fashion along the continuum of the circle of life. With retirement typically associated with age 65 (Social Security benefits are available at 62), those with the financial resources can relocate to a desired climate or destination (such as Sun City Hilton Head) and enjoy all the social and recreational outlets available, while downsizing to a smaller home at a lesser cost.

Let's fast-forward 10 to 15 years into the future. "Father Time" has made an impression (not necessarily your choice) on your good looks and overall physicality. Priorities start changing.

Preparing meals at home has evolved into frequent stops at the local fast-food drive-through. House cleaning and yard maintenance have lost their luster - not to mention the heat in the summer - and the idea of actually saving money on property taxes and homeowners insurance is starting to make sense.

A few more years pass and you're starting your eighth decade. The word "convenience" keeps creeping into daily conversations. The objective is to continue to live life to the fullest and enjoy each day doing what you want to do, not what you have to do.

The goal: find the community that best fits your personality and lifestyle. It's time to start researching the different senior retirement living options available. Make sure you understand what health services are offered and at what cost.

Ultimately, the timing of a move to a senior retirement community is a function of being psychologically and emotionally ready. For most it's not an easy decision, but for a very large percentage of those who make the move, the day-to-day living experience is truly something special at any age.

Joe Agee is the marketing and sales director for The Seabrook of Hilton Head. www.TheSeabrook.org

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