Within just five miles of my home, there are many different types of retirement communities, and they each have a diverse menu of amenities and services that they offer.
Active Adult Communities for 55+ Senior Citizens
One of the most popular types of places for people over the age of 55 to live is an active adult community. This may consist of single family homes, townhouses, or condominiums. The residents all live independently in their own residences and participate in their choice of activities.
For example, our community of Laguna Woods Village offers golf, horseback riding, tennis, five swimming pools, two gyms with trainers, art studios, a live theater, dance classes, bridge, parties, and over 200 clubs. Some residents have chosen to live in our area because it is one of the few retirement communities in the United States that contains its own equestrian center and riding trails. We often attract retirees from Colorado and Montana who bring along their horses and board them at the stables.
However, our community does not offer skilled nursing care, memory care or any of the amenities that you might need as you get older; nor does it provide residents with meals or similar services. In addition, the homeowners dues are unusually high because of the number of activities that are provided at no charge or for a very low fee.
Senior Apartment Communities
There is one highrise senior apartment community, called the Towers, within the gates of Laguna Woods Village that does provide some additional services ... dinner every night and weekly maid service. The average age in this building is approximately age 88. However, even this facility within our gated community does not include nursing care. It is an independent living senior apartment complex. You can find senior apartments throughout the United States. In addition to luxury ones, many cities have low income housing for seniors that would generally fall into this category.
Another senior adult apartment complex in our area is just a few feet outside the gated community of Laguna Woods Village. It is called San Sebastian. This building is very new and modern. It has gorgeous apartments, beautiful pools, frequent parties, and a gym. The building is very secure. Although the facilities are very appealing, the residents cannot use the golf course, tennis courts or other amenities inside the gates of Laguna Woods Village, just a few feet from their door.
What the Towers and San Sebastian have in common is that they are both apartment complexes that are designed specifically for senior citizens.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities
There are also a large number of other types of senior residences in the area surrounding our community. They are called Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs.
The ones in our neighborhood have names like Freedom Village, The Wellington, The Regency and Whispering Fountains. They provide the residents with a private room or senior apartment, three meals a day, and full use of their facilities. Most of them provide private bus service to shuttle the residents around to shopping centers, doctors appointments, the theater and other activities. They hold parties and have exercise classes, putting greens, hot tubs, and bridge groups. Many of them also have different levels of care ... independent living residential apartments, assisted living (for those just needing a little help), skilled nursing facilities, physical therapy, memory care facilities, etc.
The price you pay for a CCRC depends on the level of care you need. I have known people who have a chronic illness or other future health concerns who wanted to move to these types of facilities while they were still active and capable of taking care of themselves. It was reassuring for them to know that they would never have to move again if they became weak or incapacitated.
Which Type of Retirement Community Amenities are Right for You?
What type of facility do you want or need? Before you buy into a retirement community, give a lot of thought to your future needs. If you are comfortable with the idea of living in one place now, and moving into a residential facility with a higher level of care later, then you may want to select an active adult resort type community like Laguna Woods Village. If you have a serious illness or feel your health slipping away, you might want to select a place that will care for you for the rest of your life.
Neither choice is better than the other. Only you can decide which types of amenities will best suit your needs. However, these are some of the issues you will want to consider before you make up your mind about where you want to live. Once you do decide, relax and enjoy your new living situation. All of these retirement communities have plenty of activities to keep you busy and entertained!
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photo taken by author while horseback riding in Laguna Woods Village, California