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Active Adult or
Retirement Community? 


With so many housing options available to Seniors today, it is important to understand the differences between the similar and often-confusing terms for Adult Lifestyles.  

Active Adult Communities 

In many ways Active Adult communities resemble the master planned community concept which is so popular throughout the United States. The key difference is that only persons aged 55 or over are eligible to purchase or rent the properties in the Active Adult community.


This qualifier often causes the misconception that Active Adult Communities, or what are commonly referred to as 55+ Communities, are synonymous with Elder Care or Retirement Living.  Since the differences are significant, let's take a moment to define them.

Group Photo

The Independent Lifestyle Can Be Your Choice

Much of the choice to live in an Active Adult Community revolves around choosing a lifestyle. Many of today’s adults in their 50s, 60s and 70s strive to remain active, both mentally and physically, regardless of whether they have retired or still enjoying employment. To provide this lifestyle, Active Adult Communities often include on-site facilities for swimming, biking, walking/jogging, tennis, golf, dance, fitness and yoga.  Social activities are frequent, and entertainment facilities for private parties are often found in the Community’s main clubhouse area. They also frequently partner with local colleges and universities to offer classes and seminar series, as well as with local cultural centers to engage in events of the Arts.  Often located with easy access to shopping and nearby medical facilities, Active Adult Communities clearly promote an independent lifestyle.  

Of note, housing within these communities is typically designed for ease of access.  Building styles range from single-family homes, town homes, and villas, to condominiums or even manufactured homes.  In fact, Active Adult Communities are on the other end of the spectrum, often catering to those seeking an active lifestyle with amenities resembling those found at vacation resorts!  Homes primarily offer single floor living, or feature master bedrooms and bathrooms on the first floor. This building design is adaptable for Aging In Place modifications, should the resident decide to stay in the home for years to come.  hese homes will seldom have steps to enter the home, and often feature universal accessibility enhancements such as lever handles, wide doorways, and shower stalls with seats.  Aging In Place retrofitters such as Access Built can ensure that these enhancements provide for a comfortable and secure living area. 

Retirement Communities

A Deciding Factor...

When considering the many wonderful options available in an Active Adult Community, it is important to understand that these communities do not include healthcare services.  If the security of on-site nursing care is an important consideration for you, perhaps you might consider Retirement Living Providers. 

Communities operated by Retirement Living Providers can generally be characterized by the level of care available to the residents. The continuum of care progresses through assisted living and skilled nursing care, and increasingly includes memory care.  All care services are provided directly to the resident within the community.

Senior Book Club
Senior Patient
  •  Assisted Living

Assisted Living refers to adult residential communities whose residents require assistance with managing the 'activities of daily living'. With the goal of living with the greatest degree of independence possible, each resident receives the assistance needed to accomplish activities such as toileting, bathing, grooming and dressing. Persons with medical conditions may be accepted as residents, if their medical needs do not require continuous skilled nursing.

Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) of today provide warm and enriching environments for their residents, often offering more than the typical comforts of “home.”  Services and amenities offered vary by community, which can range from basic, essential care communities to high-end resort-style communities. In addition to providing daily meals and housekeeping, most Assisted Living communities also provide their residents with scheduled transportation, nutrition and fitness programs, as well as organized health and social events. On-campus features such as swimming pools, fitness centers, beauty salons, libraries and more can be found in many communities.

  • Memory Care

Many Assisted Living communities offer what’s known as Memory Care, which entail services and care designed for residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia.  In those Assisted Living communities where this type of care is offered, the Memory Care residence is typically located in a private wing or in a separate building on the campus.  

Enjoying a Meal
Senior Men Playing Chess
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community

A relatively new option which is growing in popularity is the Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC). This model offers residents the ability to live independently within the community for as long as they desire or are so able, in other words, to age in place. The CCRC is the only option which provides the Senior this continuum of care through the advancing stages of age. Before entering, the Senior makes financial arrangements through a contractual agreement with the CCRC to provide assisted living or advanced care in the future.  

Residents are afforded many lifestyle benefits such as transportation to appointments and shopping. Many programs are incorporated into the monthly calendar offerings such as social activities, educational opportunities and trips to local cultural events. Services within the community include meals, housekeeping, health services and emergency assistance. 

As the resident begins to lose independence, he or she won’t need to leave the community, as assisted living is already available on the campus, often within the same building. By staying within the same community, the resident is able to maintain friendships and activities as they age, staying in familiar surroundings with the same quality of life. The CCRC offers three types of living environments:

  1. Independent Senior Living

  2. Assisted Living

  3. Skilled Nursing

As the resident's needs change, they are able to move within the community to receive the level of assistance they require.  By staying within the same community, the resident is able to maintain friendships and activities as they age, staying in familiar surroundings with the same quality of life. 

While the CCRC model may be considered by many to be ideal, they are the most expensive retirement option.  There are many financial and legal considerations to make before taking the step to Continuous Care Retirement Living.

Visit Communities in Your Area

Whichever solution seems most appropriate for your needs,

Access Perfect Homes Realtors have been specifically trained in the many housing options and levels of care available to you. They will assist you in visiting the communities that appear to fit your needs. Your Access Perfect Homes SRES will help you prepare a list of the recommended questions for the staff. This is a great way to get a firsthand look at the possibilities!

Community Garden
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