Aug. 12, 2022
Downsizing Your Home Part 5
If none of the options we’ve discussed thus far appeal to you when you picture your life and your future, then perhaps you might consider community living as an option.
However, some homeowners nearing retirement and entering their senior years balk at the idea of community living or senior housing. “I’m far too young to consider moving to a retirement community!”
Maybe you’re thinking the same thing. Maybe you’re worried about losing your independence and freedom. Maybe you’re worried about losing your uniqueness and sense of self.
If this sounds like you, then you probably have some misconceptions about everything a retirement community can offer.
As I’ve said before, you can look forward to the future with hope, anticipation, and even excitement! You’re entering a new stage of life, which can be very rewarding, and downsizing into retirement community living can get you there! But if you hold common misconceptions about senior housing, then prepare to be pleasantly surprised. These aren’t your mother’s senior living arrangements!
In fact, there are many different types of community living options available, and what you choose will depend on a variety of factors, such as your health and activity level, how much or how little independence you seek, and what types of leisure and social activities and environments interest you the most.
LEISURE AND ACTIVE ADULT COMMUNITIES
Leisure and active adult communities offer homes that are mainly geared toward empty nesters, although often both younger and older adults are welcome. These communities are designed for those who enjoy more active lifestyles, and offer leisure activities and amenities with that in mind. If you like to keep active and enjoy activities such as golf, tennis, yoga, swimming, hiking, etc., then this might be the perfect type of community for you.
INDEPENDENT LIVING COMMUNITIES
Independent living communities are another option, designed more for older adults who prefer or require additional services, such as central dining facilities, housekeeping services, maintenance, transportation support, etc. There are also age-appropriate leisure activities available, such as adult classes, gardening, games, and social events or outings. These communities are usually age-restricted with noise level limits, which is a big attraction for many people in this stage of life. They offer rental or ownership housing options with additional features that improve accessibility for those entering their senior years.
CONTINUING CARE RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) offer a combination of an independent living lifestyle with assisted living and nursing care. Essentially, they’re semi-independent living facilities for those who don’t need continual health care supervision, yet offer a continuum of care — housing, services and supports, and nursing care — all in one convenient location. You would be able to maintain some level of independence and privacy and enjoy various activities and friendships, while having access to the supports and health care you might need.
Another benefit is physical and financial security, allowing you to enjoy your post-retirement years comfortably and pursue your interests and goals. Finally, CCRCs come in a wide variety of housing options, anything from apartment style to campus style to individual homes, with many of them offering various amenities for you to enjoy.
Assisted living is designed for people who need help with certain activities and household management. It’s not full care — hence the term “assisted” — so residents are still technically living on their own, but they still offer varying levels of assistance. Some communities offer all three of the above types of living arrangements/housing — leisure, independent, and continuing care.
BENEFITS OF COMMUNITY LIVING
Regardless of which type of community living arrangement would best suit your needs as you look forward to the future, there are many benefits to choosing community living over purchasing a small house or townhouse, or over moving into your own condo or apartment. Here are some of the most notable benefits of community living.
1. You don’t have to worry about home maintenance or yard work.
Looking for a simple and stress-free lifestyle in your future? Consider moving into a senior housing arrangement. While this also applies to condo and apartment living, not having to worry about home maintenance or yard work is a significant benefit of community living.
Every time there’s a problem that needs to be dealt with, it’s someone else’s problem.
Say farewell to making small repairs around the home and keeping up with landscaping, gardening, snow removal, and more. These services are provided as part of community living, and are included as part of a monthly fee. Depending on where you choose to live, you might even have the added benefit of adding housekeeping services on top of home maintenance and yard work. While some people think of moving into community living as a loss of independence, they don’t consider all the freedom it brings — freedom from regular home maintenance, in this case.
2. Pay one monthly fee for your expenses.
Community living is probably more affordable than you think! While I certainly won’t lead you to believe it’s inexpensive, when you compare the monthly fee to what you currently spend a month on everything across the spectrum — think property taxes, utilities, and entertainment — they’re pretty much on par. Keep in mind that you probably won’t need a car — or use it very much — because you will have almost everything you need on site and have access to carpooling and public transportation services. You can save a considerable amount on vehicle-related expenses (gas, maintenance, repairs, insurance).
3. Enjoy nearby amenities and explore new activities.
While there are certainly cost savings related to having so many services, activities, and attractions, there is also the sheer convenience. Healthy and high-quality dining options staff by professionals? It’s there. Fitness options, adult classes, hobbies, community outings, special events, and entertainment (speakers, comedians, musicians, movie nights) are onsite too. You can take up a new hobby or activity that you’ve never tried before but have always wanted to, whether it’s gardening, golf, hiking, yoga, woodworking, or arts and crafts classes.
“It takes more intentional effort to be bored in a retirement community than it does to stay entertained” (SeniorAdvisor.com).
4. Make new friends who share your interests.
Community living offers a fantastic opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. Some people find that their social circles grow smaller as the years go by, but you can look forward to enjoying the benefits of new friendships within a community living environment through many of the available onsite activities and events. You might even end up forging a close bond with someone who shares similar life experiences or interests.
5. Reap the rewards of safety and security.
Concerns of safety and security tend to grow as people age, particularly when they consider their next homes. Worried about falling and not being able to get up when you’re older? What about catching the flu or developing any number of conditions or ailments? If an older person lives alone and falls, or develops an illness quickly, the results can be devastating. But you can basically throw these worries out the window if you decide to join the ranks of seniors who have decided to embrace all the benefits of community living. There will always be people around to help, helping you to live as safely and securely as possible.
6. Avoid moving in the future.
Picture your life with the peace and security that comes with never having to move again! This can be your reality if you choose community living in your retirement to enjoy your golden years without stress.
As people age, it becomes increasingly difficult to go through the process of downsizing, regardless of where they choose to move. If they are experiencing changes in their physical and mental health, then it becomes even more challenging, and the burden of selling and moving might fall on someone else’s shoulders, most often their adult children.
But if you choose to move into a retirement community before you experience any decline in your health, you’ll be ahead of the game, and you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits and perks of community living without the hassle of worrying about selling, buying, and moving down the road.
7. Choose your independence.
One of the best things about community living in your senior years is that you have flexibility in choosing how much — or how little — independence you need and want.
Many people mistakenly link senior living directly to assisted or nursing home living — and those certainly are great options if you’re looking for an increased level of care and dependability. But you can choose to start out as independently as you would like, then, depending on your situation and your changing needs, you can usually transition to more dependent living in the future, as many communities offer these types of facilities.
This way, you don’t have to move (a bonus, as discussed previously) or start all over again, and you can keep your social circle, the staff you’ve come to trust, and the activities you’ve been enjoying.
Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to live in a retirement community. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. You are able to pick and choose whatever works best for you!
For example, maybe you’d like to keep your independence in the kitchen and prepare and cook your own meals. That’s entirely possible! There are independent living apartments with full kitchens, yet you can still be part of a community and make social connections and enjoy new hobbies and interesting activities. However, if you don’t want to cook — whether it’s matter of never wanting to cook a meal again, or being unable to, then choose a senior housing situation where you can eat meals prepared by staff on site.
Retirement community living is a fantastic alternative to moving into a smaller house, townhouse, condo, or apartment for many homeowners nearing retirement, offering many benefits you might not have considered before. Today’s community living options offer much more than they did decades ago, allowing you to have less stress, more time, and opportunities for social connections, leisure activities, and amenities.