The term “retirement homes” can mean a lot of different things. Retirement is changing, and so is retirement housing. As the baby boomers retire, and as they have seen the limited housing choices for their parents as they age, baby boomers are demanding new choices for themselves.
Typically there are currently five types of retirement homes. The term “active adult” housing refers to either age targeted or age restricted homes or communities. Age targeted homes are those that accept all ages but market to baby boomers and retirees and will have a mix of young families, singles, empty-nesters and retirees. Age restricted communities are ones that legally can restrict 80% occupancy to people age 55 or better. Younger spouses usually make up the other 20%. Children under the age of 18 are generally not allowed except as visitors. Some age restricted communities are actually for people age 62 or older. Either way, an age restricted community is legally allowed to exclude people younger than age 55 or 62, at least within 80% of the homes.
Many of these active adult communities are amenity rich, with everything from equestrian facilities to Olympic size swimming pools and private lakes, and many are expensive because of these amenities. Often unmistakable from resorts, they tend to attract a certain socioeconomic group and often have full-time activities directors as well.
Beyond active adult communities, there are 55+ apartment communities, many which have a flat fee and then extra services, sometimes including on-site healthcare, for a separate fee. These, too, can sometimes feel like a resort hotel.
Continuing care retirement communities, also known as CCRCs, our campus-like communities that offer a continuum of care, usually including independent living homes, which may be apartments or houses, assisted living and nursing home care. The idea behind these is to give residents a sense of security, knowing that healthcare is close at hand when needed as they age. One thing to keep in mind about continuing care retirement communities is that residents must be in good mental and physical health before moving into one.
Assisted living facilities may be stand alone retirement homes and/or communities, or they may be on the same campus as a nursing home. Assisted-living is for people who need help with everyday living activities, such as bathing and eating, but who do not need medical care. People in assisted living usually live in one large building or a series of buildings on a campus. Meals are usually congregant but not always, and lots of activities keep residents busy and active. These facilities usually charge a flat monthly fee and then charge extra fees for extra services. Before moving into an assisted living community, make sure you know what is included in the monthly fee and what is not included.
Nursing homes are for people who need not only assistance with everyday living but also need medical care.
So the idea of retirement homes, while still traditional in many ways, is evolving to meet the needs of a generation that changed nearly everything about America. Baby boomers are going to live well into their 80s and 90s, and they are not content with having the limited choices that their parents have and had. If anyone can change retirement and retirement homes for the better, it is this generation.