The Good Life
What are Retirement Communities?
Retirement communities are often also called independent living communities, because they are designed for seniors who are able to live independently, with no need for daily personal or medical care. They are generally mid-to large-sized campus-style communities that offer a wide variety of activities and conveniences for residents.
If this sounds similar to an active adult or 55+ community, that is because retirement and active adult communities share some core commonalities. These often include providing exterior home and lawn maintenance, planned social activities, communal spaces and outdoor amenities such as tennis courts, golf courses or swimming pools. The benefits of living in a retirement community are generally the same as living in other types of senior housing: more opportunities for social engagement, more free time to spend pursuing hobbies and low-maintenance living. Retirement communities take low-maintenance living to an even higher level than active adult communities, because the following are often included, with other services available a la carte:
• Meals – 3x/day, served in a dining room
• Linen and laundry service
• Interior home maintenance
• Scheduled transportation to shopping, medical appointments and other errands
• 24-hr staff and onsite-healthcare in case of emergency
As in most types of senior housing, the size and style of home varies from community to community, from studio apartments to large villas, often with many styles available within the same campus. While the homes may differ in size, most will have features that are designed with seniors in mind, such as:
• One-level living
• Wide doorways
• Walk-in showers
• Low thresholds
• Emergency call systems
And while every community is unique, many will offer the same types of amenities and benefits to residents, all aimed at allowing them to live easier, more engaged and fulfilling lives. Most retirement communities provide an even broader range of amenities than those found in active adult communities, including:
• Daily scheduled activities, fitness classes or crafts
• On-site salons, libraries and chapels
• Game rooms
• Community meeting spaces such as club houses and bistros
• Private dining rooms for special family meals
• Community excursions
Some independent living communities are located within larger campuses that also offer assisted living, skilled nursing and memory care services; these campuses are called Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs). They offer a full range of senior care to residents as they age and their health needs change. CCRCs allow residents to age in place, and stay within the same overall community, as they move from one level of care to the next. A CCRC is especially helpful if one spouse has different care needs than the other. Even if one spouse is in a higher-level care facility, couples are still close enough to see each other every day and are able to enjoy the same amenities and activities.
Use our US map above to begin your search for the best retirement communities for you or your loved one.