While a majority of seniors hope to be able to age in place, some retirees are starting to realize the many benefits of trading in their homes for 55+ communities. 55+ communities offer the benefits of having your own home combined with some perks specific to seniors that you wouldn’t get in just any community.
What is a 55+ Community?
The name communicates most of what you need to know. A 55+ community is a retirement community that’s limited to residents over the age of 55. The rules for different 55+ communities vary. In some, the 55+ rule is strictly followed, while others offer a little bit of leeway for spouses that are younger or younger family members that may want to live with you. Some bump the number up higher and only allow people who are 60, 62, or 65 or older to move in.
What they all have in common is an emphasis on seniors. The houses or apartments are built to be senior friendly. The amenities the communities include are chosen with seniors in mind. And any resident that considers a 55+ community can, of course, expect their neighbors to predominantly include other seniors.
The Benefits of a 55+ Community
If you’re one of the 87% of seniors intent on staying in your current home as you age, you may wonder what the appeal of a 55+ community is. If you think ahead to the issues you’re likely to encounter in the future, you may realize 55+ communities offer much more than what your current home can provide.
- Houses and apartments designed with seniors in mind
Seniors that stay in the house they bought when they were younger usually have to make a number of home modifications to make their homes safe for aging in place, some of them pretty costly. Homes in 55+ retirement communities are built with the physical needs and concerns common to seniors top of mind.
You don’t have to modify anything if the home is already built to your needs, you can expect to stay there safely and comfortably for years to come.
- A social community of your peers
One of the biggest challenges that seniors who live alone face isn’t one most families know to expect: it’s loneliness. And the dangers of senior loneliness are serious. If you don’t have family nearby and many of your friends are hard to get to without a car – which might not be an issue now, but it will be at some point – then living alone puts you at real risk.
One of the biggest benefits that 55+ communities offer is the community part. You have a built-in network of peers right there in the neighborhood. You’re likely to make friends easily and keep them in all the years you live there.
- Safety and security
Many families worry about their loved ones living alone as they age. Sometimes the decision to move to assisted living is as much about that fear as any day-to-day needs a senior has. 55+ communities help address that fear. When you know your loved one lives around other seniors that know them and all keep an eye out for each other, a lot of the worries evaporate.
Some 55+ communities offer extra features to enhance the safety of residents. You may find one that’s a gated community or one that has security guards on staff once you start browsing your options. If security’s a top priority to you, you should be able to find communities that make it a priority as well.
- Great amenities
While the specific amenities offered vary for every 55+ community, you can generally expect there to be some good ones. Common amenities offered at 55+ communities include pools, fitness centers, chef-prepared meals, community gardens, or even golf courses.
55+ communities are designed to make sure that you never have to go far to keep yourself busy and entertained, and many of the amenities commonly provided also serve to bring people together and further the sense of community in the neighborhood.
- Community activities and events
In addition to all those amenities, many 55+ communities also organize regular activities and events for residents. That could mean fitness classes, cooking classes, crafts, trips to the local museum, or movie nights. The activities make it easy for retirees to try new things and stay active throughout their senior years.
- Fewer maintenance concerns
Think about all those pesky maintenance issues you have to deal with at your house. Mowing the lawn. Dealing with plumbing problems. Raking leaves. Replacing the hot water heater. If just reading those sentences caused you a little bit of stress, just think of how nice it would be to hand those responsibilities over to someone else.
At a lot of 55+ communities, you can. In many cases, the community takes charge of caring for the shared spaces and the landscaping, and they often have people on staff to handle other home maintenance issues to save you some of the trouble. Of course, how much each community will handle on their own depends on the rules of the community itself, so be sure to ask for details when you’re trying to decide on a 55+ community.
- Located close to hospitals
As one more feature to offer peace of mind, most 55+ communities are strategically built close to a hospital. If a resident gets hurt or suffers a heart attack or stroke, they can get help fast. For a lot of illnesses and injuries, getting to the hospital quickly can make a huge difference in how well seniors fare after the fact, so knowing there’s a hospital nearby is an important value add when considering a 55+ community.
How to Find the Right 55+ Community for You
If you’re liking the idea of all a 55+ community has to offer, then the next step is looking into the homes available in your area, or in an area you’re open to moving to. Review all the details you can find on each and make visits to those that look the most promising to see if they’re a good fit.
You can find details and reviews on some 55+ communities by searching the independent living options in the areas of your choice. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to do determine if a particular 55+ community is right for you.