Active Adult Communities

12/23/2020 | By Rachel Marsh

Many seniors and retirees make the leap from aging in place to an active adult senior living community. These communities are not merely reserved for those who can no longer live alone, or who need assistance with daily tasks.

Quite the opposite! Active adult senior living communities are designed with – well – active adults in mind! They cater to retirees who want to give up the burdens of home owning, while surrounding themselves in an energetic and social environment.

If the upkeep of a home (lawn care, repairs, and so on) has gotten to feel like too much to handle, you may be in the market for an active adult senior living community. There are a variety of different types and sizes – from senior apartments to full-on CCRCs. 

While they offer similar perks – home maintenance, social engagement, and so on – they also vary in what they offer and who they cater to!

Active Adult Communities

Active adult communities are neighborhoods that offer low-maintenance housing to those at or near retirement age. They are typically set in their own private neighborhoods, and run by a homeowners association (HOA).

These communities are generally either age-restricted, which means at least one resident in each household must be 55 years or older; or, they’re age-targeted, which means the neighborhood aims services and activities to the 55+ demographic – but doesn’t have an age restriction.

Though apartments and houses in active adult communities are designed like traditional homes, they have subtle differences that make them easier to age in place. They’re created to be as low maintenance as possible, with floor plans designed to accommodate any potential change in mobility.

In general, active adult communities provide a variety of amenities and perks for their residents. These often (but not always!) include:

  • Amenities: on-site amenities may include tennis courts, recreation centers or clubhouses, swimming pools, walking paths, and so on.
  • Social activities: communities may host a variety of social activities and events, such as cooking classes, book clubs, exercise groups, arts and crafts, and more.
  • Services: many communities may offer various neighborhood services for their residents, including lawn care, trash and recycling pickup, security, and even transportation.

However, some active adult communities are much simpler and less costly, and don’t offer as many amenities and services.

Active adult living ballet

In general, many seniors find great benefits to the type of lifestyle in an active adult community. 

  • Because home maintenance is usually offered in an active adult community, residents can spend less time on house and yard work.
  • Living spaces are designed for aging in place; this means residents can often enjoy more years in their homes, without having to worry about finding a new place to live once, for example, mobility decreases.
  • Many active adult community residents appreciate the easy access to various amenities; often, they don’t even have to drive!
  • Residents are surrounded by friends and peers in the same chapter of life. Plus, with less time spent on menial tasks like lawn maintenance – and more events and opportunities to interact with fellow residents – it’s easy to stay social and make connections.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities, or CCRCs

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) – also known as Life Plan Communities or Life Care Communities – offer a full space for seniors in any chapter of life. These communities generally include an entire spectrum of care; residents, therefore, can remain in the same community regardless of their age or health status.

In general, levels of care types in a CCRC typically include:

  • Independent living: a residential community designed specifically for adults of retirement age who are still active and independent.
  • Assisted living: intended for seniors past the stage of independent living. They offer help with various ADLs (activities of daily living) such as bathing, grooming, and medication administration – as needed.
  • Rehabilitation care: this is a temporary care center offered to patients who need help regaining strength and mobility after an incident such as a stroke, injury, or illness.
  • Memory care: memory care provides specialized attention for those living with memory issues such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
Active adult living walking club

In larger cities where space is more limited, some CCRCs exist in one multi-story building. However, in general, CCRCs live on a full campus with multiple buildings – often one dedicated to each level of care (or sometimes multiple!).

One of the greatest advantages to a CCRC is the peace of mind knowing that you won’t have to worry about finding and moving into a new community again. But! There are many other perks that this type of senior living offers.

  • Communities strive to keep their residents active and engaged. They often offer classes, travel programs, entertainment, and other community events. 
  • Those living in a CCRC also get to enjoy these perks among fellow residents; socializing is very easy to achieve!
  • In addition, residents no longer have to worry about home or yard maintenance, as these are often covered in the monthly fee. 
  • Services are usually included as well, such as security, housekeeping, and utilities. 

Independent Living

Independent living is geared toward seniors who have reached retirement age, but still live an active and independent lifestyle. These residential homes are designed to make life simpler and easier.

Independent living communities come in all shapes and sizes. Some look like standard affordable apartment complexes, while others are more similar to a luxury resort. Units may range from modest apartments, to spacious condos, to detached garden homes.

And, although independent living residences are created for active adults, they still feature adaptations to make aging in place as smooth as possible.

Active adult living chess party

One of the biggest attractions to an independent living community is – well – the community! 

  • In addition to senior-focused apartments, residents can enjoy communal spaces and common areas. This helps them to remain active on a regular basis, in addition to creating many social opportunities.
  • Though living units have full kitchens, most communities feature dining options.
  • Residents can spend less time on home maintenance and upkeep, and more time enjoying community events; activities offered usually include classes, outings, card games, and religious services.
  • Communities frequently come with 24-hour security.

Senior Apartments

Senior apartments are living spaces that cater to independent seniors, but have been designed for easy living. They’re set up similarly to traditional apartments, but are more low maintenance and have minor adaptations to make aging both possible and simple. These adaptations may include features such as handicap accessibility, emergency alert systems, and first-floor access to elevators. 

Apartment units usually have 1-2 bedrooms, and range in size from small to over 2,000 square feet.

Often, senior apartment communities are built near conveniences like shopping centers and public transportation. Additionally, some even offer on-site amenities, such as:

  • Swimming pools
  • Recreation centers
  • Gyms
  • Tennis courts

Some communities host regular activities for residents as well; bingo nights, fitness classes, field trips, outdoor excursions, and so on. 

Services like utilities, security, and maintenance are generally included in the monthly fees. However, senior apartments do differ from independent living in that there are fewer services and amenities offered.

That being said, there are many benefits to senior apartments!

  • Units require less maintenance than a standard apartment.
  • Residents live in a community with others of similar ages, interests, habits, and lifestyles. This also helps prevent the loneliness and isolation frequently faced by seniors.
  • Life for residents is generally much easier, as they no longer have to worry about home repairs and maintenance or lawn care. They also don’t need to worry about finding a new home in the near future, as, again, units are specifically designed for aging!

Is Active Adult Living Right for You?

Retirees and seniors all over the country enjoy the benefits of a senior community. If you think you may be ready to sell your home and take the plunge, there are many local communities to choose from.

They’ll welcome you with open arms!

Rachel Marsh

Award-winning writer Rachel Marsh has written for many different sites and publications on a variety of topics. She is the multimedia editor for Seniors Guide and works hard to make sure seniors and their families have the best information possible. When she’s not writing for work, she can be found writing for fun. Really!

Rachel Marsh