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85 years old … and counting

By Jennie L. Phipps · Bankrate.com
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Posted: 11 am ET

Retirement-blog-senior-danceBoomers are about 15 years away from being the typical client at a Front Porch active adult retirement community, says Mary Miller, chief financial officer of this nonprofit group of more than a dozen retirement facilities, which run the gamut from independent living to conventional nursing home and dementia care.

Front Porch is preparing for the onslaught of boomers, but in the meantime, Miller says boomers can learn certain things from members of the Greatest Generation, who are currently her primary customers. She points to these three essentials:

Plan for both the early and later years of retirement. "Most of our residents are in their early 80s and they tend to be planners," Miller says. That has made it possible for many of them to transition comfortably from a stage of retirement when they spent time and energy on travel, dining out, socializing and even working, to a more sedentary stage of life where health concerns demand more of their attention, she says.

Get smart money-management help. The financial slowdown over the past five years has left some Front Porch residents worried that they might not have enough money, Miller says. "The returns on fixed-income investments have been at historically low levels -- 1 percent or less in many cases -- and our residents tend to be heavily invested in fixed income. They see these low returns and they get scared," she says. While Front Porch doesn't provide direct financial advice, Miller has observed that those residents who were able to get help reallocating their investments felt better about their resulting financial situations.

Remain open to new things. While the idea of spending your later years in a retirement home has a bad reputation among some people, for others group living can be more pleasant than living alone. Don't just dismiss the possibility out of hand. Miller says Front Porch is already planning ways that will make its communities more appealing to boomers, whom she perceives as having more varied interests than today's residents. She also foresees an increasing need for flexible ways for residents to pay. Big upfront payments combined with small monthly payments can work best for residents with big nest eggs, while residents without a pot of money may prefer a monthly pay-as-you-go plan.

Learn about retirement communities with university ties.

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