Retirement
After making the decision to live in a retirement community, how do you select the right one that meets your needs? First ask your friends or your doctor for recommendations. In addition, consult this relocation guide, the local Yellow Pages or the Internet by searching under “retirement communities” or “active adult communities.”

Living options may be apartments, townhouses or rooms requiring little or no maintenance. Experts suggest that whichever type of housing is preferred, it’s important to see available apartments. If they have don’t have availability or do not have the type of unit requested, find out about getting on the waiting list and determine the length of the expected wait. When visiting and interviewing at retirement communities, shop around. Make several visits at different times.

Services offered can vary depending on the type and cost of the facility. At many, seniors are responsible for their own finances, transportation, meals and health care. Plus, recreational activities usually are offered, maid service may be provided, some meals may be provided in a common room and the facility may offer transportation to physicians or shopping. People interested in this type of facility should be healthy, able to communicate with independent health-care professionals without the help of on-site staff and must desire an active community environment.

It’s important that a community under consideration be close to your services, such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, grocery stores and favorite shopping places. Identify what amenities are important to you, such as an on-site beauty shop, golf-course membership, transportation for doctors appointments, shopping, cultural events, church and social outings. Review the community’s activity calendar to see what it offers and ask the marketing or activity director about programs. Don’t hesitate to ask the residents how long they have lived at the facility and whether they like it and find out from the managing directors how long they have been in operation and who owns them. Inquire about the quality of the food and the staff. These are all very good questions to ask.

Due to the wide array of choices available to Phoenix seniors, retirement communities are very competitive, which is a plus for consumers because they can shop around to ensure that the right facility matches their lifestyle.

— SENIOR CITIZENS PROPERTY TAX PROGRAMS
Seniors living in Arizona can apply for a number of state and county programs aimed at making the burden of property taxes more manageable, but the programs have strict income and property-type guidelines.

Tax Freeze
Under this program, seniors’ home values and property tax rates remain fixed at the amount they are when the senior applies for the tax break. To qualify, Arizona seniors must be at least 65, have lived there for at least two years and meet income guidelines that differ depending on marital status. Seniors submit the application to the county assessor and can reapply every three years.

Widowers, Widows and Disabled Exemptions
Widowers, widows and disabled elderly people can claim tax exemptions under Arizona’s law. People who have lost their spouse or are disabled are eligible for a property-value reduction of $3,000. The exemption reduces what homeowners have to pay because property tax is a percentage of the property’s value. To qualify, household income must be less than $25,000 if no children under 18 live there and under $30,000 if they do.

Tax Deferral
The Arizona tax deferral program gives seniors over 70 the option to defer taxes on their property until they die, the property is sold or the property produces income. Eligible seniors must be living on the property (and have done so for six years) or in the state for 10 years, own no other property and meet income restrictions.

County Assistance
Some counties offer seniors additional assistance. For example, Maricopa County distributes an Elderly Assistance Fund once a year to elderly people who already have a property tax freeze and live in an organized school district.
Source: eHow.com

LEISURE ACTIVITIES AND TRAVEL
With such a sunny climate, the opportunity for outdoor enjoyment is here for the taking. The Phoenix area has a number of mountains (the Superstitions), rivers and parks for outdoor recreation. In addition, the golfing community is particularly active with hundreds of courses for the choosing. Seniors can join many available clubs and groups that offer opportunities for traveling, arts and crafts, games or social events.

A useful resource from the city of Phoenix is the “Phoenix Senior Living Guide,” which is accessible online at www.aplaceformom.com/senior-guide/phoenix. With a large senior population, Phoenix and surrounding areas have plenty to offer active adults. Seniors can enjoy ballroom dancing, community centers and traveling and much more. Several senior centers are available to Arizona residents over 60 throughout the Phoenix Metro area and offer social and recreational activities, nutritional programming, lunches and education opportunities. Through organizations, such as Volunteer Match, seniors in Phoenix and the surrounding areas match seniors with appropriate volunteer opportunities. The Phoenix area also offers a variety of aging services, such as Phoenix Meals on Wheels and adult protective services. The Phoenix region truly has something for every senior.

   
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