|55+ Lifestyle communities offer convenience,
affordability, security, and peace of mind.
The Considerations of Entering a Lifestyle Community or Contemplating Buying One in the Process of Being Built: Living in Places Such as 55-Plus Condos.
The past two decades have seen a rise in the number of 55-plus senior lifestyle and independent living communities in existence. This trend is expected to grow as Baby Boomers retire and search for the most hassle-free way to live. Lifestyle communities offer convenience, affordability, security, and peace of mind. They allow seniors to enjoy freedom and independence, but eliminate many of the responsibilities of traditional home ownership. They also ensure seniors are close to social activities and get to stay active as they age, even if their mobility or health is not what it once was.
If you are considering a lifestyle community for residents 55 and old, what should you know?
Not All Retirement Communities are the Same
Many lifestyle communities only allow people over the age of 55 in the facility, but this does not mean everyone there is in his or her 50s. Living in a community could mean sharing space and social time with people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, something that might not be appealing to those only in their 50s. According to the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), 70 percent of independent living residents were female and the median age was 80.6, with most residents moving in between the ages of 75 to 84.
Another thing to consider is just because you are surrounded by people your own age does not mean you are automatically going to be friends with everyone. Before you choose a community, get an idea for the age range of residents and how the facility organizes activities. This can give you an indication of whether or not you will feel comfortable and fit in as a resident.
Some retirement communities make it a priority to keep residents as healthy and happy as possible with access to plenty of organized activities, but this is not always the case. Ask yourself, “Is this a place where I can feel young while I’m growing old?” If your preference is to lead an active senior lifestyle, look for a community that makes access to social activities easy and plentiful.
Financial considerations are also a factor. Before committing to a senior community, be sure you understand all of the fees involved and what those fees include. Also determine how various payments are made to the community. It is important to have an attorney familiar with retirement and senior living look over any documents before you make a commitment. Fees paid to a senior living community association could be put toward the following:
- Home maintenance and repair
- Gardening and landscaping
- Pools and spas, including maintenance and repairs
- Fire and theft insurance
- Golf, tennis, and other sports recreation
- Snow plow, trash, and other local services
- Cable television access
- Home utilities
- Security services
- Costs of retrofitting to accommodate aging
- Commuting costs to activities
- Home and facility security
Some to-be-built communities ask that residents make financial commitments prior to their development. If you are interested in a planned community that is not yet fully operational, collect all the details available and discuss the opportunity with your family and attorney. It is common for communities to ask for a commitment in advance, but it is important you understand any risks involved.
Planning for the Future
Finally, determine how much assistance a community provides for your future needs. At 55 or 65, you might be just as active as you were in your 30s and 40s (some people are even more active!). However, there will likely come a time that you will need support and assistance with day to day activities. Does the community provide this support? Are there facilities on premises that make it safe and convenient to visit the doctor or dentist, grocery shop, or participate in social activities? If your goal is to make a long-term commitment to a community, you need to be sure it offers what you need now and in the coming years.
Investing in a home within a lifestyle community is a great way to create a secure future. These communities often provide everything you could want during your golden years, including fun perks and opportunities to remain active. However, not every senior community is right for every person. Understanding what a community offers is essential to choosing the one that is right for you.