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Active Adult Communities vs. Retirement Homes – Which Option Is Right for Your Lifestyle?

By Sixty and Me June 01, 2015 Mindset

Retirement homes are not what they used to be. In fact, people over 55 now have more options than ever before. This means you don’t have to decide between moving in with your kids and living in a nursing home. And just because you’re getting a little older doesn’t mean you have to give up your active lifestyle, either.

But how do you decide whether active adult communities or retirement homes are the better choice for you?

Active Adult Communities

You can probably find several 55+ communities in areas you want to live in. While they’re all a little different, the premise is that most of the residents enjoy an active lifestyle.

This means they don’t just meet up to play Bingo, but they may also play tennis or golf or enjoy hiking or biking. Residents of these types of communities really enjoy doing things together in a group, and they may even keep busier than a young mother with three kids!

Retirement Homes

Retirement homes are often called retirement communities. And while they also usually require residents to be 55 or older, you don’t have to be very active to join.

In a retirement community, the focus is often on comfort and luxury: something we all can appreciate, especially as we get a little older. You can also expect to see fine dining and small get-togethers inside this type of retirement community.

The Best of Both Worlds

Senior communities are listening to the needs of their residents and constantly changing. The terminology isn’t set in stone, and neither is the setup of the community. The main thing you need to be concerned with is meeting your personal and medical needs.

For example, for seniors who are wheelchair bound or dependent on the administration of certain medications, an active adult community is probably not the right choice. On the other hand, even if you don’t have any medical restrictions, you might still relish the slower place of a retirement community.

Restrictions of Senior Communities

Regardless of which type of community you prefer, it’s important to understand the restrictions before moving in. For example, your grandchildren cannot live with you in a community for seniors. You may also have to obey strict rules about pets if they are allowed at all.

Benefits of Senior Living

Of course, there are many benefits to senior living communities, whether you end up choosing an active adult community or a retirement home:

  • You don’t have to do yard work.
  • You don’t have to deal with noisy kids and teenagers.
  • You can be part of a community.
  • You can easily lead a more active lifestyle.
  • It’s really easy to have an exciting social life.
  • You can enjoy amenities, such as a pool or fitness center.

How to Choose Your Home

It’s really important to find the right fit for your needs. Just because an old acquaintance raves about her senior community to you doesn’t mean that it’s the best place for you to put down roots. In order to get a feel for the community, you need to stop by and talk to the people who live there.

Additionally, you need to think about what you want. Do you want to live in a community with strict rules or would you rather live somewhere more easygoing? There is no wrong answer, but you have to choose what feels right for you.

It’s also important to consider the age of the community to see where you fit in. Generally, a newer community of active seniors will have residents between 50 and 60 years of age, while a community that started 20 years ago may predominantly house seniors aged 70 and up.

This is a guest post by Mary Couzens. Mary is a Designated Broker and the owner of Mary Couzens Realty. For more helpful advice on how to choose between an active adult community and a retirement home, please visit her on her website

Are you considering moving to a retirement home or active adult community in the near future? What considerations are guiding your decision on where to live in the coming decades? Please join the conversation.

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The Author

Sixty and Me is a community of over 500,000 women over 60 founded by Margaret Manning. Our editorial team publishes articles on lifestyle topics including fashion, dating, retirement and money.

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