Facing the question “what retirement community suits me best?” can carry with it tremendous stress for people who are in their later years. Deciding on the best community for you is made more complicated by the seemingly endless number of options that are available. With the right amount of research and knowledge it can be less stressful. Here are some tips to help ease the process.

First, make sure the geography is right for you. Are you near the things and places that are important to you, whether it is your friends or family or activities you engage yourself with in the community? Your location is critical as proximity to what you love to do will make a big difference in how satisfied you will be with your choice.

Second, choose a community that offers services and amenities that you will need and utilize. When examining this aspect, it’s important to think ahead about what your changing needs will be over the next five years. If general transportation for shopping and recreation as well as medical visits are critical for you then be sure to choose a place that offers both instead of just one. Housekeeping and an errand service might be appealing if it is offered. I think it makes tremendous sense to make a written list of the communities you are considering and what they offer so that it is much easier to look at. Otherwise the variables float around in your mind and it seems impossible to make a decision.

Third, look to see what kinds of social and recreational activities they offer. It is important to see what they offer to see how your time will be spent over the next couple of years. Social activities with other residents may seem to be of no interest to some or of great importance to others. Taking an honest look at this aspect is important and it’s a fact that isolation is the number one debilitating factor for people as they age. Engagement with others keeps you sharp.

“Asking the right questions is the first step to finding the right residence for you,” says Sylvia Watts, national director at Revera, the leading North American provider of living situations for people 50 and above.

There are a tremendous number of choices when it comes to retirement living from simply apartments that cater to seniors to communities that over the full gamut of services from meals to personal care. Starting out with a clear idea of what you need over the next five years or so is the best way to begin your search. After you know what you want, the choice becomes a whole lot easier.