If you are considering retirement communities as part of your eventual retirement plan, choose one that will positively contribute to your quality of life, longevity, and independence. Keep reading to learn more about the different options you have.
In this article:
- Types of Retirement Communities
- Retirement Community Options
- Paying for Retirement Community Living
- How to Find a Retirement Community
Your Guide to Retirement Communities
Retirement Community Definition: A term that covers many varieties of senior housing options for older adults who are generally able to care for themselves.
Types of Retirement Communities
Senior living communities provide the security, amenities, and sense of community yearned for by those in their senior years. The main types of senior citizen housing include:
- Independent living retirement communities
- Assisted living retirement communities
- Nursing retirement homes
- Age-restricted retirement communities
- Lifestyle retirement communities
- Continuing care retirement communities
1. Independent Living
This type of facility for elderlies is also referred to as senior living apartments or 55 and over communities. It is comprised of private apartments dedicated to those who do not need any special medical care or assistance in order to perform their day-to-day activities.
It is a place for active elderlies who want to live on their own. Think of independent living retirement communities as a typical neighborhood offering amenities like gyms, clubhouses, housekeeping, and security.
They consist of private apartments that typically range from studio to two-bedroom units. Usually included are a kitchen or kitchenette, with basic facilities provided like utilities, meals, housekeeping, and scheduled transportation.
2. Assisted Living
This type of senior housing is for those who do not need a high level of care but do need some assistance and supervision with daily activities. Here, seniors are allowed to live in their own homes, such as an apartment, a condominium, or a single-family dwelling.
Moderate care is provided to retirees in this senior living community. It provides the elderly help with getting dressed, preparing meals, bathing, using the toilet, taking medication, and transportation.
This community may also provide tailored care for retirees with diseases like depression, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Those who are in the early stages of memory loss, dementia, and Alzheimer’s can benefit from living here.
Assisted living facilities, however, do not provide most healthcare services directly. They coordinate with dentists, podiatrists, physical therapists, hospice nurses, and counselors so residents will not have to move to a nursing home or an in-patient facility.
According to Investopedia, the MetLife Mature Market Institute survey states the average monthly rate for living in this community was $3,550 a month in 2012. The lowest rate was in Arkansas at $2,355 a month, while the highest was in Washington, D.C. at $5,933 a month.
3. Nursing Homes
This senior living community is ideal for retirees who need extensive medical care, as it is the next-closest thing to hospital care. There are those set up to feel like a residence, and there are others set up to feel more like hospitals.
Many have waiting lists because it can be difficult to get into the nursing home you want when the need arises. When you do, this type of retirement facility provides assistance with everyday activities, such as eating, bathing, getting dressed, and getting around.
Some nursing homes do not accept Medicare patients and only accept certain categories of retirees, like those requiring acute care. Unfortunately, this type of senior community sometimes has a negative reputation for elder abuse.
The Investopedia report further said the annual cost for a private room in 2012 was $90,500, while a semi-private nursing home room was $81,000, according to the MetLife survey. Because this type of retirement community is expensive, you can always consider purchasing long-term care insurance beforehand to fund this option.
4. Age-Restricted Retirement Communities
Age-restricted homes are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and the Housing for Older Persons. While most cater to individuals aged 55 and above, there is a distinction within this type of living community.
There are those called “age-qualified,” which require persons aged 55 or older to occupy at least 80% of the units. Persons under 19 cannot become permanent residents.
Then there are those called “age-targeted,” which are marketed to a certain group without the same age restriction. While these facilities focus on their senior demographic, anyone can live here regardless of age.
5. Lifestyle Retirement Communities
As more and more baby boomers are beginning to retire, retirement communities are in even greater demand. Lifestyle retirement communities provide senior living options based on your lifestyle.
Here are some specialized retirement communities:
- RV retirement parks
- Golf retirement communities
- University and college-based retirement communities
- Faith-based retirement communities
- Luxury apartments
- LGBT retirement communities
- Modular homes communities
- Boating retirement communities
- Singles sharing homes
- Artist retirement communities
6. Continuing Care Retirement Communities
These types of senior communities specialize in providing a long-term home for the elderly. Here, retirees can start out living independently, with the option to transition into a nursing home or assisted living facility if needed and without the need to relocate to a new facility.
The most expensive contract upfront is a life-care contract, or unlimited contract, which has a long-term price. You can opt for a modified contract, which covers specific services for a certain term, but whose price can go up at the end of the term at the same time.
There’s another option, which is the fee-for-service contract. It can be thought of as a pay-as-you-go plan which requires no commitment. In this option, you are required to always pay the current market price.
Retirement Community Options
When choosing a senior independent living facility, consider your location, financial resources, expectations, and level of care required. If, for instance, you have unlimited funds, you can opt for luxury homes, active senior housing, or continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs).
If you are on a fixed income, expect a one-time lump sum from $100,000 to $500,000 for housing in the more modest communities. Note that you will also be responsible for paying for monthly services, such as food, housekeeping, and activities.
For low-income retirees, there are options for affordable housing such as low-income senior housing. This is provided by HUD through your local Department of Family and Human Services.
When choosing a retirement home, consider if you want to live in a house or an apartment community. Here are the differences between the two:
1. Retirement House Communities
A retirement house is like living in a stand-alone home where your neighbors are all seniors who share the same lifestyle and you have total freedom and autonomy. Services include inclusive lawn care and wheelchair-approved paths.
If you require a minimal level of care, this type of housing is suited for you. Bear in mind, though, that you do have the flexibility to hire a private in-house nurse when you need it.
2. Retirement Apartment Communities
Apartment units are the most common types of senior housing in retirement communities. In luxury retirement communities, these are called condos.
If you’re a low-income senior, you can live in an apartment called Section 8. Here, you get to live in a building where all residents are aged 55 and above.
There is a stipulation, however, in some HUD apartments where only 80% of residents must be over 55. This means some residents may be younger than that.
Paying for Retirement Community Living
Retirees often have to choose between the reverse mortgage on their home or property and selling their primary home outright and then selling the proceeds. For a senior apartment, there is no lump sum to be paid upfront, and payments are secured through monthly rents.
If you are living in an assisted living or specialized care retirement community, you may end up paying more for additional services that aren’t included in the institution’s basic amenities.
If you must pay on a monthly basis for a senior apartment, note that it typically involves taking funds from several sources. Social Security benefits, personal savings, and retirement accounts all play a significant role in helping pay for your housing.
How to Find a Retirement Community
If you’re looking for a retirement home near you, identify first the type of community you want to live in. For assisted living retirement communities, the National Center for Assisted Living provides information on their website based on your location.
For those who are considering an independent living retirement community, you will need to search online or via phone calls.
For age-restricted facilities, you will need to ask for age requirements. Most of the time, the age minimum will be 55, but others will have an age limit of 62 or older.
As for lifestyle retirement communities, you will have to choose a lifestyle you prefer and start your search from within that niche.
Now that you know all there is about retirement communities, it is important to assess the financial stability of your desired facility, especially if it has a large up-front fee. Try to arrange a short-term stay to get a sense of what it feels like to live there before you commit.
What do you think is the best-suited retirement community for you? Let us know in the comments section below.
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