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Choosing a Retirement Community

Updated on June 30, 2014

What is a Retirement Community?

Retirement Communities have many faces, from 55+ independent living arrangements to skilled nursing facilities. Typically, the choice to move into a retirement community is a function of your need for support. Many retirement communities offer basic services to support residents such as dining services, laundry services and home maintenance. There are several factors to consider when looking for a retirement community including:

  • Age
  • Lifestyle Choice
  • Health Status
  • Where You Choose To Live (climate, part of the country, near family, etc.)
  • Activities Like
  • Services You Desire
  • Future Needs

Continuum of Care

Retirement communities are organized to provide a continuum of care, meaning you may choose a community that offers independent living with little or no services and move within the community or to a new community as your needs for services increase. It is important to properly assess your need prior to making your move to a retirement community as multiple moves are costly, time consuming, and stressful.


Independent Communities

There are many choices when considering independent living communities, many are simply age restricted mobile home parks, apartments or high end housing communities built specifically to accommodate seniors. Often there is some type of shared space such as community center that offers activities and meeting space for community members and range from very simple to elaborate.

Many communities offer a mix of independent and assisted living arrangements with basic services offered to all residents and conseierge or negotiated services as needs arise.


55+ Retirement Communities, Mixed Retirement Communities and Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Many retirement communities offer a range of living arrangements from 55+ independent living through residential care. These retirement communities are specifically built with the needs of seniors in mind including large community space, food service operations, laundry and housekeeping services, and front desk attendants. The retirement communities range from modest apartment style complexes to elaborate resort style complexes.

There are many choices at this level, it is important to take time to become fully aware of the basic services offered, the cost of services and the ability to access services as needs increase.


Skilled Nursing, Nursing Home

Skilled nursing communities are designed to meet the needs of residents with high medical need, round the clock nursing and caregiving staff.

Skilled nursing communities serve elders with acute medical conditions as well as long-term chronic medical conditions. Skilled nursing communities are often a transitional living arrangement allowing for recovery and rehabilitation before returning home.

Assisted Living

What type of community comes to mind when you think of Assisted Living?

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Not All Retirement Communities Are The Same

The choices for retirement community living are limitless with a wide variety of services offered by each community. Retirement communities are regulated by each state and often operate under differing standards of care in each state. Typically, Assisted Living, Residential Care and Skilled Nursing Communities are required to operate under a licence and are evaluated periodically to ensure compliance.

When you are considering a move to a retirement community take some time to do your homework, tour a number of communities and ask questions about services, costs and care. Hire an independent elder care consultant or advocate to help you with your decision making, you will find that it is money well spent.


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      Yuri 3 years ago

      Yes, a very good piece indeed. The photo is not neslrsaciey representative of today's 70-year-old (I know because I'm over 70 myself), but her facial expres...