When people think about retirement they might envision themselves on a beach or sleeping in every day, but the reality is retirement takes a lot of planning and planning involves asking the right questions. 

“Most people do not understand that you can’t plan enough because you don’t know what will happen,” says Drew Horter, founder and chief investment strategist of Horter Investments. 

Some of the many questions upcoming retires should consider include how much money is needed to retire, the age they wish to retire and the medical care needed as they age. 

Though these are just a few of the many questions floating around, the fact remains that more and more Americans will be retiring in the next 15 years.

Baby boomers, born between 1946-1964, are beginning to retire, which will cause the number of senior citizens to more than double to 72.1 million by 2030. This will increase the percentage of senior citizens in the United States alone to 19 percent of the total population, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging. 

Because people are living longer, healthier lives, the number of individuals entering the retiree and senior citizen category is expected to increase all over the globe, too. It’s creating quite the scare because some individuals reaching that retirement age aren’t prepared for it. However, future retirees can take charge of their future now.

Horter says that many clients come to Horter Investments in their 50s and that as an investment strategist he can help clients understand their finances, and the assets and the services available to them.

“Most people come in ill-prepared,” he says. He adds that potential retirees should set up a policy or long-term coverage plan in case of unexpected issues, like a sudden depletion of finances or bad investments in the stock market. “People need to be cautious,” Horter says. 

Besides the fear of being able to afford retirement, there is a new issue on the rise—living the lifestyle the retiree is accustomed to. The Americans for Secure Retirement conducted a survey that found that 88 percent of Americans are worried about maintaining a comfortable standard of living during retirement, which is an increase of 15 percent since 2010.

Because today’s retirees are an evolving group with different needs and expectations than past generations, retirement communities are stepping up their game to stay competitive as the first baby boomers enter retirement and are looking at assisted and independent communities to call home.

One of the things retirement communities are seeing is an increase in the number of residents wanting to bring technology with them. “So many residents use social media, like Facebook,” says Lizz Stephens, marketing director at Mason Christian Village. “Almost everyone carries a cell phone.” She adds bringing technology is encouraged because it gives residents a way to keep in contact with friends and loved ones. 

Individuals interested in living in Mason Christian Village’s community are making other requests, too. “Perspective residents are asking to be texted or emailed information regarding our community,” she says, adding that this is different than even a few years ago. 

While these types of technology are more common in the lives of seniors today, Stephens says that it adds a whole new ball game. “Residents can post feedback about retirement communities online, which can be positive or negative,” she says. “Those looking at retirement communities will use that in making their decision.”

Cedar Village Retirement Community is also seeing an increase in the use of technology. Sally Korkin, senior director of community relations and outreach, says she has seen an increase in the number of residents using technology like cell phones and laptops. “Residents will use their laptops to Skype with friends and family members,” she says. 

While technology is being added to different aspects of retirement communities, so are the different care options. Mason Christian Village has slated for this summer the addition of a new private rehab wing complete with Wi-Fi and private suites. “The rehab wing is designed to help our residents and individuals in the community, such as after hospital stays,” says Stephens. 

Cedar Village also has added a therapy/rehab option. The retirement community has a new Aquatic Therapy Center that was funded through a grant from The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati.

“It kind of sets us apart and gives therapy patients different options,” says Korkin. The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati Aquatic Therapy Center offers a three-lane warm-water lap pool and two warm-water treadmill pools with underwater cameras for performance review. These pools are equipped with lift floors that can lower therapy patients up to a depth of five and a half feet. The treadmills will help residents with hip, knee and balance issues, too.

“It’s not for everyone,” she says, “but it gives individuals a big boost terms of accomplishing their goals.” 

Cedar Village also began offering Village Care, a home and community service. “A lot of people want to stay in their homes as long as they can and maintain their independence,” says Korkin. 

Some of the services that are offered through the Village Care program include geriatric assessment, home care, home health, home modification, hospice and telehealth. The telehealth service provides medical alerts, medication adherence and monitoring in the residents’ homes. 

Through the Village Care program, individuals are able to “age in place” and can shift services depending on the level of care needed. 

Evergreen Retirement Community recently finished $4 million in renovations and improvements, affecting the common areas, the pool and parking areas plus remodeled rooms and flooring at the Wellspring Health Care Center. 

While care is very important, so are the activities. Activities are a service that individuals looking at retirement homes focus on because of the increasing desire to stay active despite retiring and entering a retirement community.

At Mason Christian Village residents have opportunities to attend Cincinnati Pops concerts, ballet performances and even take trips with the Village Voyagers. For on-campus activities there are clubs to join, classes to take and a steady level of activities each day. Stephens says that regardless of a resident’s activity or motor skills level, there are fun activities for all at Mason Christian Village. 

Cedar Village Retirement Community has many activities for all residents such as taking residents to different productions at venues like Playhouse in the Park. 

There are programs available, such as Opening Minds Through Art (OMA), which is designed for people with dementia; storytelling through the StoryWeaving program; and the IN2—also known as It’s Never Too Late—which allows residents to use the computer and more. 

Seasons Retirement Community provides different engaging and interactive programs like its Lunch and Learns, visits from area organizations such as the Cincinnati Parks Association, Name That Tune and book groups, in addition to the rest of their activities and events calendar. 

At Evergreen Retirement Community residents are taking trips all over the United States, including trips to Florida and Alaska. Residents are also going for day trips to events downtown, like The Cincinnati Flower and Garden Show at Yeatman’s Cove.

With such a variety of activities, services and care, each retirement community is unique and each wants to provide their residents with the best options. 

“Everybody wants a choice and personalized care,” Stephens says. “They want to be treated as an individual with a plan tailored to them.”