Planning for your retirement involves a whole lot of careful thought. One of the things you need to think about during this retirement planning process is whether you’re going to move to a retirement community. But there’s a lot of confusion over what, exactly, a retirement community is. Well, no longer — here’s our short, handy guide on retirement communities and how to choose one that’s right for your needs.
A Place to Live Your Best Life
In a nutshell, a retirement community is a residential neighborhood of retirement-age adults who, by and large, can take care of themselves. Unlike a nursing home, which is a hospital-like setting that is designed to provide care to seniors with specific medical needs, retirement communities often resemble the kinds of suburban housing developments and gated communities that you can find anywhere, inclusive of the types of maintenance and upkeep services these places provide.
While retirement communities resemble such housing developments, they also have some important differences. A typical retirement community will have rules that residents need to be close to retirement age before being eligible to move in, for one. Also, these communities often share amenities that go beyond landscaping; for example, in communities that offer continuity of care, older residents or those who have specific medical requirements often have access to assisted living or home health services as needed.
All in all, a retirement community is a place to live your best life once you’ve retired. You’re surrounded by like-minded individuals of your generation, living in a place where you don’t have to worry about things like maintaining your property or keeping up with the Joneses. All you need to do is kick back, relax, and enjoy yourself, secure in the knowledge that you’re in good hands.
Choosing the Best Retirement Community for You
Not even identical twins are completely the same. We’re all individuals, and we all have individual needs when it comes to what we’re looking for in a place to live during our retirement. As a result, there are as many different types of retirement communities as there are people retiring. That’s why it’s important to select a retirement community with care; you want to make sure you’re spending your golden years in a locale that’s perfect for you and your personal needs.
In many cases, you might not need to relocate to a retirement community at all. If you live near a rich support system of friends and family and your current home is ideal for your needs, there may be no need to move at all. However, if you’re an empty-nester rattling around a house that’s too big and expensive for you to maintain easily on a retirement income, or if your family lives in far-flung locations, or if you’re just sick of raking leaves and shoveling snow — the comfort, safety, and security of a retirement community might be just the thing.
Click here to read a guide to touring and choosing a retirement community.
Types of Retirement Communities
Unsure of the type of retirement community you might be interested in? Don’t worry – no matter what type of community you choose, retirement communities of all stripes provide opportunities to live in an environment that will keep you safe and comfortable, and often surprisingly similar to what you might be paying to maintain a traditional residence. What follows a list of some of the most common types of retirement communities, what makes them different from the others, and what you can expect as a resident of one of these communities.
Click here to learn about the different types of retirement communities and how to answer the question does a CCRC make sense for you?
Independent Living Communities
The most common type of retirement community, these communities are often relegated to those 55 years or older. Most often seen in the form of apartment buildings, independent living communities can also consist of condos or even semi-detached and fully detached homes.
While there’s often no health care or assisted daily living services with these communities, they typically include amenities such as a pool or spa, access to a gym or exercise room, or a clubhouse or activity center. In fact, the only difference between an independent living community and your typical gated community is the age requirement!
Click here to read What is the Average Cost of an Independent Living Community?
Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living communities usually take the form of condo or apartment-style living arrangements and are often ideal for seniors or retirees who have specific physical or medical needs. These communities have full medical staff, similar to a nursing home, but offer much more independence and privacy than a skilled nursing environment would normally provide.
Skilled Nursing Communities
A skilled nursing community is appropriate for individuals who need assistance performing daily tasks. This is vastly different from an independent or assisted living community. Individuals who qualify for skilled nursing typically require assistance with meals and personal hygiene. These communities employ registered nurses and doctors, are capable of providing residents with care 24 hours a day, and typically provide physical, occupational, and speech therapy.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
A combination of independent, assisted living, and skilled nursing communities, a continuing care retirement community (CCCR) adapts to your needs as you age. These retirement communities can accommodate a wide range of needs; if you’re hale and healthy, they can act as an independent living community. If, as you grow older, you find yourself needing assisted living or even ’round-the-clock or skilled nursing care, these communities can provide that as well, all within the same campus, surrounded by the same friends. This makes them a popular option with forward-thinking retirees who want to feel confident that no matter what happens, they’ll have access to the right care when and where they need it.
Interested in learning more about your retirement community options? Click here to read about alternatives to nursing homes.
Alternative Retirement Communities
There are a number of alternatives to these types of more traditional retirement communities. Some quite popular choices include:
- Mobile home or RV communities for retirees who enjoy taking their home with them
- Lifestyle-oriented communities where residents all share certain interests, hobbies, or other orientations
- Part-time communities, such as a community located in a warmer climate for “snowbirds” or retirees who live in northern states, to spend winters in more comfortable areas of the country
The Last Word on Choosing Retirement Communities
Planning for your retirement means thinking about your living arrangements. If you’re not going to live at home, a retirement community can be an excellent choice. Whatever your interests or needs may be, there’s likely to be a retirement community for you. Whether you’re an active adult who enjoys seeing the world, a homebody who just wants to enjoy retirement in peace and quiet, or someone with specific care needs of any type, choosing the retirement community that’s best for you has never been easier.
For more information on retirement, read these articles by Acts Retirement-Life Communities: