Showing posts with label advantages of over 55 communities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label advantages of over 55 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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Public domain photo of a golf course is courtesy of

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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Photo of apartment complex courtesy of

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Advantages and Disadvantages of Over 55 Retirement Communities

My husband and I moved to Laguna Woods Village, a popular over 55 retirement community in California, eight years ago and never regretted the decision.  We enjoy the lifestyle, the activities, and the other people we have met since we moved here.  We feel safe, and expect to live in this community, or a similar one, until we are ready for the nursing home!

However, not all of our friends have made the same decision.  In fact, when I mention to them how much we enjoy living in our community, they are often adamant that they would never consider moving to a retirement community.  On several occasions I have asked them to tell me why they feel so strongly about not moving into an age restricted community, since there are several of them in the area.  You will see their reasons further on in this article.

If you are trying to decide whether an over-55 retirement community for active adults would be the right lifestyle for you, here are some of the reasons people decide that they either want to live in one, or do not want to live in one.

The Advantages of Retirement Communities

Access to a wide variety of affordable activities is the number one advantage mentioned by people who like to live in retirement communities.  Depending on where you live, you may have easy access to golf, tennis, swimming, art studios, woodworking shops, garden plots, live theater, clubs and social activities.

Security is the second most common reason many people give for wanting to live in an age-restricted community.  The majority of retirement communities are gated and many also have private security that is a visible presence in the neighborhood.  In addition, with so many residents home during the day, someone is almost certain to be aware if thieves try to break into a home.

Other reasons given for living in a retirement community include:

They are usually near medical facilities;
Most residents are quiet, without loud teens or social events in the neighborhood;
There are opportunities to meet other people in your age group;
The housing is typically designed to provide easy access for the elderly and handicapped.

The Disadvantages of Retirement Communities

The number one reason people have given me for not wanting to live in a retirement community is that they are happy living in their current home or neighborhood where they have lived for a number of years.  If you have close ties to your neighbors and your community, you may see no reason to move to a new community where you would have to form new relationships.

Another reason people have mentioned is the fact that they have adult children or grandchildren who are living with them, and they know these family members would not be welcome in an age-restricted retirement community.  

Even when they do not have young people living with them, some people like living in a community where there are mixed ages.  They enjoy seeing children in their neighborhood, as well as young couples who are just starting out.

Another group of people, especially those in their 50's and early 60's, have expressed the opinion that they believe the residents of retirement communities are "old" and they do not want to live with all those old people.  Often these people view themselves as too young to live with other people in their 60's, 70's or older.

A final reason I have heard is that the Homeowners Association fees in many retirement communities are a little high.  All that easy access to golf, luxurious clubhouses and "free" amenities does not come cheap.  If people do not play golf, or they do not think they will use the other services, they sometimes feel that paying a large association fee is not worth it.

Where Should You Live After Retirement?

There is no answer that is right for everyone.  Whatever you decide is perfectly valid.  If you are happy where you currently live, or if you live in a household with an extended family, you may not want to move to a retirement community.  

On the other hand, if you want to try some new experiences and live somewhere with enhanced security, then an over-55 community may be the right choice for you.

Look over the reasons that others have used to make their decision, and you will know which choice is right for you.

If you are looking for more ideas about where to retire, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

If  you do decide you want to live in a retirement community, here are a few articles that may interest you:

Over 55 Retirement Communities by Del Webb
Over 55 Retirement Communities by Four Seasons
Sun City Texas is a Premier Retirement Destination
Tellico Village Retirement Community
Laguna Woods Village Active Adult Community

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Phone of clubhouse in Laguna Woods Village taken by author.