Showing posts with label 55 and over communities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 55 and over communities. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Myths About Over 55 Retirement Communities

Having living in an age restricted over-55 retirement community for more than nine years, I have noticed that there are a lot of myths about these communities.  As a result, I thought this would be a good time to clarify a few things and dispel some of these myths.

What You Should Know about Active Adult Communities

1.  Many people believe that in order to move into an over-55 community both members of a couple must be at least 55 years old.  However, only the husband or wife needs to be age 55 or older.  Their spouse can be any age.  It is also possible for a resident who is over the age of 55 to have a roommate who is at least age 40, or they can have an adult of any age as their live-in caregiver.  There are also special exemptions for residents who have a dependent adult child who is mentally or physically handicapped, although you may have to provide evidence of the adult child's disability.  Contact the retirement community that interests you to see if they have any specific requirements or limitations, such as whether live-in caregivers can use the amenities.

2.  Often younger people of retirement age believe that everyone in an age restricted community is extremely old.  The truth of this may depend on how old the community is.  For example, the community where I live was founded in the 1960's.  Therefore, there are a number of residents who have lived here for 30 years or longer. Consequently, the median age is 76, although it has been falling in recent years because of the influx of younger retirees. There are thousands of residents who are much younger than the median age.  In fact, the Baby Boomers club is the most popular and fastest growing club in our community.  If you are looking at a new age-restricted community, the median age may even be under age 70.

3.  Sometimes people are hesitant to move to one of these communities because they have the impression that everyone is either a shut-in or that they spend their days sitting on the front porch in rocking chairs.  While there are definitely some shut-ins in any retirement community, the vast majority of people are very physically and mentally active.  In our community, we have a group of synchronized swimmers, horseback riding classes, tennis courts, two busy golf courses and a wide variety of exercise programs including line dancing, circuit training, yoga, water aerobics, and much more.  There is a large group of bridge players and over 200 clubs. There are also regularly scheduled dances throughout the community. 

4.  Another misconception is that your children and grandchildren will not be able to stay overnight in your home with you.  In truth, guests under the age of 18 can legally stay up to 60 days a year.  In fact, when one of our daughters moved to Southern California from another state, she and her two young children stayed with us for about six weeks until she found a job and an apartment of her own.

5.  Baby Boomers who still have active careers may feel uncomfortable about whether they should move into any place labeled a retirement community while they are still working.  However, about a quarter of the people who live in our community have jobs.  Some of them work full-time, like my husband, and others work part-time, as I did until I recently retired.  Not only do many people work outside the community, but our retirement community also offers jobs to hundreds of residents.  These residents hold a wide variety of jobs including positions as gate guards, bus drivers and office clerks.  Many retirees find that working part-time for the homeowner's association is a great way to supplement their retirement income.  In fact, homeowner's associations in retirement communities may be one of the easiest places for retirees to be able to find part-time jobs.

6.  Another mistaken impression some new residents have is that these communities are so safe that the residents do not need to practice good personal security.  As a result, it is not uncommon for people to leave their homes unlocked while they go for a walk, leave their cars unlocked when they visit friends, or leave their purses sitting in plain view on the front seat of their cars.  (I have frequently observed all of these behaviors.) Good personal security is as important in a retirement community as anywhere else.  While these communities usually do have a low crime rate, crime does exist.  It isn't wise to tempt outside visitors and workers in the community by practicing lax security.

I hope this has dispelled some of the myths that you may have had about living in a retirement community!  If you have other questions, please leave them in the comment section and I will modify this article to answer the readers' inquiries.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Advantages of Senior Apartments

A few weeks ago, a Baby Boomer friend of mine moved his mother into a senior apartment.  Her husband had recently died and the 83 year old woman was no longer able to keep up the home where she lived, either physically or financially.  My friend checked out a variety of housing options before deciding on a senior apartment complex.  His mother did not need a nursing home and she could not afford to move into a luxurious over-55 retirement community.  He was able to locate a senior apartment complex for her in a safe, desirable suburban community in Orange County, California, within a 20 minute drive of all three of her adult children, and his mother was delighted with the selection.  Now that she has been living there for a few weeks, my friend told me that his mother has made friends, begun to participate in the weekly Bingo games in the community center, and has started taking classes at the nearby senior center.

Senior Apartment Advantages

Why should you choose a senior apartment rather than an apartment complex that is open to people of all ages?  One of the major advantages with senior apartments is that the residences are typically safer for the elderly than those that are open to the general public.  For example, apartments for seniors are more likely to be designed with accident prevention in mind.  Residents are less likely to have to deal with poorly lit or uneven walkways.  Multi-story buildings have elevators.  The bathrooms typically have grip bars.  Even in high rise and mid-rise buildings, the residences are normally on one level and often have wider doorways and similar design changes that could allow for wheelchair access should that become necessary in the future.

There is one more reason why senior apartments are safer for the residents.  Crime is extremely low in these communities.  The elderly are significantly more likely to be victims of crime when they live in mixed age housing where a few predators may see them as easy prey.  Senior complexes often have limited access entries, monitored lobbies and other layers of protection.

In addition to safety, there are other reasons why these complexes are preferable.  They are often built near shopping centers, medical facilities and senior centers.  They usually offer a variety of clubs, activities and age-appropriate exercise classes.   Older adults may feel more comfortable getting into a swimming pool or taking a yoga class when they are with other people their own age.  The facilities frequently organize parties and other social events, so that elderly residents are less likely to suffer from loneliness and depression.  Many of them have exercise rooms and some, especially in colder climates, even have indoor pools.

Another advantage for residents is that special services for senior citizens, such as trips, classes, or tax preparation assistance, are often provided to the residents of these complexes.  Elderly people who live in other communities may not be aware of these services, or they may not have the available transportation to access them.  It is not unusual for retirees who live in more diverse neighborhoods to be isolated from the programs that could help them.

The majority of senior apartments are designed for independent living and have their own kitchens.  It is rare for the complexes to serve meals since they are not nursing homes or assisted living residences.  On the other hand, a nearby senior center may serve low-cost meals, particularly at lunchtime, for those who wish to purchase them.  Some seniors may also be eligible to receive services from Meals on Wheels. 

Availability of These Residences

Senior apartments are located throughout the United States in virtually every city and large town.  They are more difficult to find in small towns and rural areas, although a few do exist.  Another concern is that many of these complexes have long waiting lists.  Here in Orange County, California, I have known of individuals who had to wait six months or longer in order to get into one.  However, everyone I know was eventually able to successfully secure an appropriate residence, though sometimes they were not able to get into their first choice.

The best way to get on the waiting list is to visit a over-55, age-restricted complex in your area and discuss availability.  If there is a waiting list, or if they are eligible for the government voucher program for low-income seniors, the management can connect you with the housing authority in your state.  For example, in California there is a website at: where you can find available senior housing and learn how to get on the waiting lists for the properties that interest you.  Other states will have similar online registries.

What If Someone Needs Extra Care?

Residents of senior communities often find it easy to find caregivers and access extra help, when needed.  For example, if a person has hip replacement surgery or becomes injured, it may be possible to temporarily share a caregiver with a neighbor, or at least get a good recommendation to help you find a person who has worked with other residents of the community.  Neighbors often reach out to each other in these communities, as well.

What About the Cost?

There are a variety of types of apartment complexes for older Americans.  Many of them will accept government vouchers that are available to low income seniors.  This can be a life saver for the average Social Security recipient who only receives about $1200 to $1300 in benefits.  While many normal complexes also accept Section 8 vouchers, there are far more amenities available for retirees in residences that have been designed especially for them.

If you are interested in reading more about places to retire or other retirement information, check out the index articles below.  Each one contains a little general information as well as links to a number of helpful articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Should You Move or Age in Place When You Retire?

Many people look forward to relocating after retirement.  They think of this period in their lives as an exciting adventure, and they can't wait until they have the opportunity to live somewhere new.  While this works out well for many retirees, a number of people are making the conscious decision to age in place.

It is easy for a blog like this to focus primarily on all the amenities that are available to the people who move somewhere new after retirement.  We have covered a variety of options including different home builders, retirement communities and locations around the world that are attractive to retirees (see the indexes of articles at the end of this post).  Some of these locations have been selected because they offer a luxurious lifestyle; others were chosen for their affordability; a few were selected for their exotic locations.  However, not everyone is prepared to uproot themselves from their friends, families and homes in order to move to a new location.  Before you decide to relocate, there are certain issues you will want to consider.

Retirement Planning Questions to Ask Yourself

Here are some questions you should consider before you move somewhere new:

Will you be lonely if you live far away from your children, grandchildren, and friends?  While many people easily make new friends after they move, I have also known retirees in our retirement community who have become lonely and depressed.  Rather than joining clubs and taking part in new activities, some people isolate themselves.  If you are one of these people, you may not want to make a change.

Will you be comfortable with the new climate?   We have some friends who recently moved from the Napa Valley of Northern California to a small town near Lake Michigan.  They have suffered through several blizzards and had their electricity cut off during freezing weather.  They moved there in order to be near their youngest grandchildren.  However, they are both in their 70's and this harsh climate has been hard on them.  Extreme winter climates are not the only consideration.    Some people find that they have difficulty dealing with the heat in popular retirement locations like Florida, Arizona and Palm Springs, California.  You may want to rent a home in a potential retirement area for a year or two before you decide if you are going to be happy living there permanently.

Are you willing to travel long distances to visit your current family and friends?  My parents moved from Missouri to Florida when they were in their early 60's.  Now they are in their 80's.  They used to enjoy the road trips they took to go back to Missouri and see the rest of the family.  Now they don't want to travel at all any more, whether by car or plane.  It has been four years since they went back to Missouri for a visit.  This is an especially important issue to consider if you decide to move overseas where it could also be difficult for your family members to visit you.

If you lose your spouse, would you still want to be in your new location?  If you don't think you would want to stay in your new community permanently, you may want to consider renting rather than buying your retirement home. In some cases, people even decide to become Snowbirds.  They keep a small home or condo in their current location and rent or buy another condo or home at their retirement destination.  In this way, they maintain their connections in both places. 

You also need to consider whether this is a place where you would want to live alone.  As one reader pointed out, if you move to a new location to be near your children, would you still want to live there if your adult children moved away because of a job change?  Would you want to remain in the new location if your spouse died?  You need to think carefully about these issues before you pack up your belongings and move to a new location.

If you decide to move to another country, are you prepared for the legal complications? You may want to read "Why Retire in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands or Guam."  It explains some of the legal issues to be considered in moving to another country, and it suggests that you may wish to consider living in one of our exotic US territories, instead.  It is currently the most popular article ever written for this blog.

If you need extended medical care or a nursing home, where would you want it to be?   Health problems can cause sudden changes in your retirement plans.  We had some friends who were house hunting in Ecuador when the wife had a brain aneurism.  Fortunately, the doctors in Ecuador were able to save her life (which says a lot about the medical facilities there).  However, once she recovered, they came to the realization that they did not want to be that far away if something else happened in the future.  They decided to return to the small Texas town where they had both grown up and where they would be near family and friends.

Finally, where do you want to be buried?  Although most of us do not want to think about this, it is something we should consider, especially if we decide to move overseas.  Do you want to have a funeral in a location where few of your current friends or family members will ever go?  Would you want your body to be returned to the United States for burial?  Will your heirs be left with enough money to do that?

Once you have considered all these issues, you will be better equipped to make the decision that is right for you.  If you do decide that you prefer to age in place rather than move to a new retirement location, my next blog post will cover some of the resources that are becoming available to people who decide to remain in their current neighborhoods after retirement.

If you want to learn more about the options that are available to you after you retire, check out the articles listed in the index links below.  Click on the category that interests you and it will open up to an introduction with a list of articles on that topic:

Gifts, Travel and Family Relationships

Great Places for Boomers to Retire Overseas

Great Places to Retire in the United States

Health and Medical Topics for Baby Boomers

Money and Financial Planning for Retirement

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