How to Choose a Retirement Community

America is home to millions of seniors over the age of 65—and their numbers are rapidly increasing. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, there were more than 39 million seniors in 2009. They expect the senior population to increase to more than 72 million by 2030.

While disease and age-related health concerns will require some seniors to move in with relatives or take up residence in nursing homes, many others want to live on their own for as long as possible. If you’re among them, buying or renting property in a retirement community is a viable way to eliminate the burden of home maintenance while preserving your independence.

Of course, selecting the right retirement community can be challenging. From 55+ and 62+ neighborhoods featuring single family homes to apartments within a senior housing complex, you’ll find numerous types of residences from which to choose. Fortunately, you can make the process easier if you consider the following factors before signing on the dotted line.

Your health – Do you suffer from decreased mobility? Do you need assistance with day-to-day activities or are you able to bathe, dress, shop and cook for yourself? If you’re in excellent health, an independent living retirement community may be right for you. On the other hand, if you need help with chores or find it difficult to get around, you may want to consider an assisted living retirement community.

Location – Whether you prefer to walk, drive or take public transportation, a retirement community that is close to shopping, dining and entertainment can make getting out and about easier. While some communities have onsite fitness centers, pools and cafeterias, maintaining a connection to the outside world is beneficial for many seniors.


Adaptability – If you plan to live in this home throughout your senior years, you’ll want to make sure the property you purchase is adaptable. Most seniors lose some mobility as they get older, which can make navigating stairs and standard bathrooms difficult. Unless the property allows you to add outdoor ramps and adaptive devices—such as bathroom grab bars—to the interior, you might want to pass.

Residents – Whether you’re looking for a retirement home or a neighborhood reserved for senior homeowners, get to know more about the people who reside there. What is the average age of the residents? If most are older than you are, you may find the community provides fewer of the services those in younger age groups desire. Ask about community-sponsored activities and events.

Rules – Like any neighborhood or apartment complex, retirement communities come with rules. Some of the most important to consider—especially if you have grandchildren—are those regulating visitors. While many communities welcome visitors under the resident age limit with open arms, others restrict the number of days your children and grandchildren may spend on your property. Additionally, not all retirement communities allow pets.

Your retirement years should be among the best of your life. If you’re concerned about the possibility of declining health as you age, long-term care insurance can relieve some of your worries. Talk to your insurance professional about your options today.

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