What is an Active Adult Retirement Community?
Apartments, condos, single-family houses, even mobile
homes--retirement communities take many shapes and forms.
Some--often called "active adult" or "55+ retirement
communities"--are almost like resorts; offering an array of leisure
amenities like golf courses and recreation centers.
Others--sometimes called "independent living communities"--provide
services like meals or housekeeping along with activities. Either
way, retirement communities are ideal for those seeking to maintain
privacy and independence while still living an active lifestyle in
the company of peers.
Who Lives in Retirement Communities?
Older adults living in retirement communities are able to care
for themselves, including attending to the needs of everyday life.
Residents come and go as they please, participating in whichever
activities strike their fancy. In many cases, there's little to
distinguish retirement communities from other master-planned
Seniors are drawn to these communities not just for the shared
amenities, but also for the chance to downsize the responsibilities
of traditional home ownership, from yard work to expensive home
repairs. There's also the social aspect: residents live, interact
and play with others in the same phase of life, forging social
bonds that lead to a richer, more satisfying retirement.
At Holiday Retirement, for instance, many residents volunteer in
the organization's award-winning "Seniors Serving Seniors/Seniors Serving
Society" program, tutoring at local schools, working with
animals and fundraising for important causes like Habitat for
Humanity and Outward Bound for Veterans.
The Holiday experts say an engaged retirement leads to a
better all-around quality of life.
Kinds of Active Adult Retirement Communities
Many retirement communities are age-targeted, meaning they're
geared to an older demographic though their amenities and physical
facilities. In age-restricted developments (such as 55+ and 62+
retirement communities), on the other hand,Fair
Housing Act rules specify that the housing must include at
least one person who is age 55 or older in at least 80% of the
occupied units. These rules may pose a problem to younger spouses
after the death of their older spouse, or for grandparents who
suddenly find themselves caring for young children. So it's
important to consider the fine print when selecting a
Where many 55+ or 62+ retirement communities function like
age-restricted gated developments, with seniors enjoying retirement
in their individually owned, individually maintained homes, some
more closely resemble an all-inclusive resort. Residents at Holiday
Retirement and Sunshine Retirement Living facilities pay one
monthly fee to access meals, housekeeping, linen service, live-in
managers, transportation, activities and other centrally located
amenities, all while living in their own units.
It's important to note that active adult retirement communities
do not provide health care or related services (though many are
located near world-class medical facilities). If seniors need
additional services, they'll need to come up with their own
supports. "Residents whose needs change over time are welcome
to use outside, non-affiliated home health care services, which may
allow them to continue enjoying an independent senior lifestyle
within our communities," says Luke Andrews of Holiday
Where Can I Find Retirement Communities?
Once principally located in the Sun Belt states, active adult
retirement communities have spread throughout the country, allowing
seniors to stay close to friends, families and community. College
towns, mountain resorts, even big cities--all have their own
communities geared to seniors who like to attend lectures, visit
museums or even live close to a favorite ski hill.
Questions to keep in mind as you consider an active adult
- Are you ready to leave your longtime home?
- What amenities are most important to you?
- Where do you see yourself living--by the beach, in the desert,
on a busy city street? Is weather a consideration? How close do you
need to live to medical facilities?
- Do you envision yourself needing extra assistance with
activities of daily living, such as getting dressed and bathing? If
so, consider assisted living or continuing care.
- Do you want a community with strict covenants? Thoroughly
research any HOA (Homeowner's Association) to make sure you are
comfortable with all rules governing development, amenities and
Many facilities allow extended visits, including taking meals
and participating in activities. Do your best to take the pulse of
a retirement community before taking this critical step.
Learn more about retirement
living in senior communities and find a retirement