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As you edge closer to retirement, you may find yourself pondering a move into a community whose focus is on seniors. You have a few options. We will be looking at two of them today – a 55+ community and a CCRC.

Depending on your wants and needs, now and in the future, one of them just might be exactly what you are looking for.

55+ Retirement Community

In a 55+ retirement community, often referred to as an age-restricted active adult community, you’ll experience a sense of community which enhances your quality of life and well-being. You will make many new friends because you will come into contact with them often in the community’s various meetings and activities.

A 55+ retirement community offers various amenities and benefits to its residents and has some drawbacks as well. Let’s look at both.

55+ Retirement Community Pros

On-site activities abound in active adult communities, from cooking and exercise classes to hobby focused activities and golf. Each community’s activities will vary, depending on the interests of the community’s residents. Selected activities are included in the price and Home Owner’s Association (HOA) fees, others come with additional charges.

The resale home prices tend to run a little less than comparable homes outside the community because only a limited segment of the population is allowed to purchase in a 55+ retirement community.

55+ communities are quiet. There won’t be any rowdy teens to disturb your sleep, no skateboarding youth running you off the sidewalk and no splashing children interrupting your leisure at the pool unless they are visiting you or the neighbors.

Safety is generally higher within active adult retirement communities than in typical residential communities. The 55+ communities are often gated, have security patrols and vigilant neighborhood watches. Additionally, people are generally home providing for continual neighborhood watch efforts.

Homes are built with the older individual in mind. They tend to be single-story, ranch-style homes which are easy to navigate, even with a wheelchair.

Active adult communities offer an active lifestyle with a calendar of scheduled events including group activities and outings. Plus you’ll find many social opportunities because you’re surrounded by a large number of people the same age as you, many sharing your interests. Because residents are generally home during the day, someone is always available with which to socialize as well.

Depending on the community you choose, the HOA fees may cover basic lawn care, leaf removal, driveway maintenance, etc., translating into minimal maintenance on your part. You will never have to mow your lawn or weed the flower beds. Some communities even offer dining facilities and housekeeping services. Since the HOA maintains the grounds, the community’s common areas are maintained and kept pleasingly attractive, and you’ll have more time to do the activities you love.

55+ Retirement Community Cons

Some 55+ communities have serious restrictions that may cramp your lifestyle. Be sure to find out what they are before you sign any papers. Here are some to consider, even in your own home. Are you allowed to have a pet? How long may guests stay in your home, and what are the age restrictions for those guests? Where can you and your guests park?

If you enjoy seeing and interacting with a lot of younger people on a daily basis, a 55+ community may not be the right fit. In fact, if you are just moving in at the lower age limit, you might find yourself surrounded by people much older than you.

Most 55+ communities have Home Owner’s Associations which can be very restrictive and even invasive at times. The association may regulate the types of plants or decorations you can place in your yard, what color you can paint your house, where you can park, etc. It is advisable to read all the community rules and regulations carefully. The association’s dues can become quite costly if the association runs into any difficulties. Your real estate agent can help you determine if the association is financially sound or has any past liens.

Some upscale 55+ active adult communities require club memberships to take advantage of their amenities such as fitness centers, gym facilities, golf courses or swimming pools. Some memberships have food and beverage spending minimums as well.

While some communities might have minimal on-site healthcare, 55+ communities do not provide assisted living options. Additionally, age restrictions may even prevent a younger caregiver from living with you.

Just as the 55+ age restriction is a boon for some, it can be a drawback for others. If you live in these communities and find that adult children or grandchildren need to come live with you, they would not be welcome because of the age restrictions.

Many 55+ communities are built on the outer edges of metropolitan areas, providing more peace and quiet. This may leave you feeling too isolated if you enjoy being where the action is. It can also cause transportation problems if you are unable to drive.

If you live where the summers get exceptionally hot, or where the winters are extremely cold, your snowbird neighbors may disappear for half of the year.

If you determine you need to move out of the neighborhood and want to sell or lease, age restrictions mean you have a limited pool of potential occupants for your home.

CCRC – Continuing Care Retirement Community

CCRCs offer a variety of living options, from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care, all within one community. Some CCRCs even offer memory care. A person living in a CCRC can spend the rest of their life in the community moving from one type of residence to another as their health care needs change. CCRCs provide a full continuum of care.

A CCRC has many of the same benefits as a 55+ living community, plus just a little bit more. Let’s look at some of the added benefits now.

Pros of CCRCs

A CCRC offers on-site activities; in fact, in a CCRC, one or more professionally trained staff members are dedicated to the coordination of activities, implementing a full seven-day calendar of programs and events. Transportation is provided for off-site events. Many CCRCs have on-site fitness centers available for use by their residents, free of charge, along with walking trails and other amenities. CCRCs offer shared interest groups, cultural outings and travel opportunities.

Active lifestyle dining is available on-site, often with multiple dining options provided by professional chefs.

Safety within a CCRC is higher than in a 55+ community. With a smaller area to monitor, it is easier to keep security tight. Plus, security cameras are strategically positioned throughout a CCRC community, especially in the common areas and hallways in the buildings.

As in the 55+ community, homes and apartments are built with the older individual in mind and are able to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers and scooters. Halls in main buildings have handrails to assist with mobility.

Just as in the 55+ retirement community, you’ll experience a sense of community which enhances your quality of life and well-being. You will make many new friends due to similar interests and activities, plus you will be able to see them often within the community.

Since you are surrounded by people who are the same age as you, you have many social opportunities available to you. And, a huge advantage of a CCRC is that once you are established within the community, you are able to maintain friendships and social connections even as your level of care changes – times when it can be especially hard to form new friendships. This helps reduce the isolation and loneliness that often comes with changes in residence and is especially helpful for someone who loses a spouse.

Residents of a CCRC have very minimal maintenance responsibilities. All maintenance and lawn care services are furnished. Housekeeping services are provided for assisted living and skilled nursing care. Some CCRCs also provide housekeeping services for their independent living residents.

CCRCs offer full medical care to its skilled nursing residents. Medical staff is available on-site 24/7.

Cons of CCRCs

CCRCs share some of the same drawbacks of the +55 retirement communities. We will focus on the main differences between the two.

CCRCs have entrance fees and monthly fees, which are a little different than installments on a home. But with everything provided, and you never have to worry where you will live even if your care needs change. When you consider that at the age of 65 you have a 70% chance of needing long-term care, it’s easy to see why a CCRC has become a popular retirement option.

Even if your mortgage is paid off, monthly insurance, tax premiums and other expenses to maintain your home can be much higher than you realize, and become less predictable as your home ages. You may also become less physically able to manage your home as you age. When these costs are combined with potential needed care costs, living in your current home can end up being the most expensive option.

There is no one answer that is right for everyone. The choice is yours. But after weighing the options, many people do choose a CCRC because of the added benefits. If you too have come to that conclusion, we hope you will come visit us at Lake Park. We are a Continuing Care Retirement Community, offering an active, maintenance-free lifestyle where you can experience every stage of life after retirement in one convenient location. Contact us today to learn how you can have security and peace of mind at Lake Park and to schedule a private tour of our continuing care retirement community.

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