Independent living communities for seniors are popping up all over the globe as the demand by seniors for alternate living arrangements is increasing. Gone are the days when a “traditional” nursing home would be the only option for seniors. So that you will be prepared for the current investment boom in retirement living, this article will attempt to answer the questions: “What do I need to know about independent living senior communities?” and “How do I find retirement communities?”
The best retirement communities are the ones that meet your needs best. More and more are designed as active adult retirement communities because people are retiring younger and more physically active than ever before. Did you know—in general, the age requirement for “seniors” in some of these communities is as young as 55 years of age. You may find yourself ready to downsize or move on to the next phase of life.
Selecting the right senior living community is an important decision that involves more than simply choosing a floor plan — it’s about lifestyle. In addition to meeting your social, cultural, educational and recreational requirements, you may also want to ensure that there is a continuum of care in place to meet your needs if and when they change. Whatever your motivation, here are a few things to consider as you explore your retirement living options.
TYPES OF SENIOR HOUSING
- Senior Independent Living Communities. These are designed for active seniors who do not require any assistance with day to day activities, however there may be a 24-hour, on-site attendant or staff person available. These communities may be comprised of single-family homes, townhomes, apartments, mobile homes or motor homes. You may be able to rent or purchase these units. Be sure you check to see if there are age restrictions. Some of these communities will offer amenities such as a clubhouse, gym, social activities and such services as housekeeping, yard maintenance, transportation, laundry service and security.
- Leisure or Lifestyle Oriented Communities. If you are looking for like-minded people to surround yourself with in retirement, this may be the option for you. Here’s a sampling of what you might find: RV-only parks, faith-based communities, golf and tennis resort communities, boating communities, artist communities, gay and lesbian-only, singles only.
- Senior Living Apartments. These apartments can be relatively inexpensive and are maintenance-free. These independent living apartments for seniors offer a place to live along with amenities including community dining, housekeeping, transportation and 24-hour emergency services. You’ll generally find three levels: affordable, market and luxury. Affordable apartments are generally income-based and subsidized at federal, state or local level. Market apartments are competitively priced about 15% lower than a regular apartment. The Luxury option will offer upscale amenities, larger apartments, to sometimes include security and on-site pharmacies.
- Continuum Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs). These are senior living communities where residents “age in place.” CCRCs offer services you’d find in independent living, assisted living and nursing homes so as your needs change the services are there to meet your needs. You’ll generally sign a contract depending on your needs, and these are among the most expensive options for retirees. You’ll be charged an entrance fee with a monthly fee in addition. These communities offer greater piece of mind to both the residents and their families.
- Assisted Living Communities. This option provides a level of independence for seniors but with some assistance for activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing, bathing, etc. This type of community is generally found in facilities housing 25-120 apartment units. These apartments can be multi-room, single rooms or even full apartments. Generally there is one person per room/apartment, but they can be shared, i.e. a married couple or friends. While the units may have kitchenettes, up to three meals a day may be eaten on a common dining area. Paid staff are on hand to help as necessary with personal needs. You are likely to find amenities including 24-hour security, housekeeping, medication management, laundry service, exercise programs, social activities and transportation. There may be different levels of care, including care for dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. Memory care units are generally in a locked, secure building.
HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?
The costs will vary depending on the community you live and the old supply and demand model does have some effect here. In general, you might expect the ranges as follows:
- Independent Living Communities – between $1,500 to $10,000 per month
- Assisted living – a median rate for private one-bedroom apartment is $2,575 a month
- CCRC entrance fees can be in the neighborhood of $250,000, and monthly fees can range from $1,300 to $5,400
Thankfully, long-term care insurance is now available to help cover the costs of nursing home care, an assisted-living facility or at-home assistance, if you are no longer able to take care of yourself
ARE THERE RESTRICTIONS?
When you are looking into your options, be sure to be careful about possible restrictions that may exist within your chosen community. Many communities have policies for things that have become problematic for them in the past, and so policies going forward have been established. For instance, you might ask if there are rules and restrictions regarding the following:
- Pets allowed vs. no pets allowed
- Parking spaces available for visitors
- Dining hours for meals
- Smoking or Non-smoking areas
- What are the social activities, and how well attended are they
- What is the transportation schedule, is it set or can you request a certain date and time
As you can see, there is a wide range of lifestyle options from active retirement communities to skilled care, all for your senior living choice. No matter where you are in your senior years, there’s a senior living community out there that’s right for you. Retirement living communities are for people who want to maintain their independence, expand their horizons, and make their own decisions. Residents enjoy life more — not less.
If you are no longer able to live in your home, or you are interested in downsizing and reducing the need to maintain a home, then the information in this article may be helpful to you. Use this information to help you begin your investigation into the different options that are available in your community.
If your community does not have good options for senior living retirement communities available to you, here is a good resource to check. You might also like to check out FORBE’S 25 BEST PLACES TO RETIRE IN 2015.