You’ve worked for nearly forty years, raised your kids, seen grand-kids born, saved your money and now, by gosh, you can retire. Isn’t that a great feeling? No more long commutes to work, no more picky, toxic bosses, no more business travel, no more long days slaving away in an office – it’s all behind you.
But then, what’s next? You could choose to move into a retirement community but before you take the leap, you need to know the pros and cons of living in a senior retirement community.
A confusion of terms
A problem with the term retirement community is that it can have many different meanings. You may have seen TV commercials for a retirement community called The Villages in Florida. Is this a retirement village or a retirement community? Good question.
As a general rule, a retirement community is just that–a community of people who have come together to share a common living experience. In comparison with the old term, “retirement home,” a retirement community generally consists of a group of houses or apartment houses, along with a clubhouse, swimming pool or pools, medical facility, tennis courts and a common area.
However, there can be different kinds of retirement communities based on the level of medical care offered. Some are what’s called “independent living” retirement communities. These are generally for active people over the age of 55 who can take care of themselves.
You do all your cooking and cleaning just as you did in your old house. The community may include a low-level medical facility but it may be not much more than a walk-in emergency care center to take care of injuries, colds, the flu, etc.
A second level of senior retirement community is called assisted living. This generally means that in addition to the house or apartment, you get housecleaning, laundry services and one or two meals a day included as part of your standard cost. You can then buy additional meals as you wish at an extra cost.
Third, is a senior retirement community offering continuing care. These communities are basically for seniors who need to be immersed in a hospital environment with other people of the same age. These are often called life-care communities.
They are for people who have a number of aging care needs, but who still want to live somewhat independently. In most cases, the people who move into continuing care communities stay there until the end of their lives.
The pros and cons of living in a senior retirement community
Life in a senior retirement community comes with many advantages. The people around you will be of about the same age, will have common interests and shared memories. That is, you can all remember and talk about things such as TV shows when you were children, music and movies, the Kennedy assassination and so forth.
Senior retirement communities offer much to do right at your doorstep. Some include outstanding golf courses, indoor and outdoor pools, state-of-the-art fitness centers, full-size tennis courts and beautiful clubhouses that offer a variety of fun activities. For example there will probably be talent shows, barbecues, Fourth of July celebrations, Bridge games, bingo, etc.
Living in a senior retirement community also means the end of maintenance. You will never again have to worry about a leaky toilet, broken garage door, water in your basement, snow shoveling or yard work. These will all be taken care of for you.
You should also find it easy to make new friends when living in a senior retirement community. Nearly everyone there will be new to the area and as anxious to make friends as you. Plus, you will all have much in common.
In some retirement communities, you don’t even need a car. You will be provided with transportation so that it’s easy to get to the nearest shopping mall or movie theater. In some retirement communities in Arizona, you basically park your car and get around in a golf cart.
The care and assistance you can get may also be a very attractive reason to choose life in a senior retirement community. Many seniors find life more enjoyable if you don’t have to clean your own place, cook most of your own meals and do your own laundry. Depending on your age and physical condition, good medical care may be important to you and you can get this at most assisted living, senior retirement communities. This medical care can vary all the way from occasional visits to the community’s healthcare Center to continuing care or even Alzheimer’s care.
The cons of living in a senior retirement community
The biggest con of living in a senior retirement community is the cost as they can be very expensive. Most charge an initial entry fee that might be the equivalent of the price you got for the house you just sold. In fact, some senior retirement communities will simply take your house as your entry fee.
There will also be on-going charges depending on the level of care you want. In other words, independent living costs less than assisted living or you are paying someone else to cook for you, clean and do your laundry. And if you require continuing care, this will cost you even more.
Another downside of living in a senior retirement community is that there are often regulations in terms of what you can and cannot do with your house or apartment. You will probably be able to bring your own furniture, pictures and personal items with you but of course what you can bring will be restricted by the size of your unit.
Third, living in a senior retirement community is a pretty homogenized way of life. You will be surrounded by people your own age and of your own income level. In other words, for better or worse, there won’t be much variety in terms of the people that you can become friends with.
In other words, just like with many things in life there are both pros and cons of living in a senior retirement community.
The Pros and Cons of Living in a Senior Retirement Community
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