Last month, our Rightsizing Your Life article introduced the concept of rightsizing—the process of mature adults making the move to a new living arrangement that better meets their evolving needs and interests. By asking yourself a series of questions, including “Are you living in a home with more rooms that aren’t being used than ones that are” and “How many times in the last year have you avoided completing routine home maintenance,” you may have discovered that rightsizing your life is a process you’d like to consider. This is the first step on the road to your exciting new lifestyle.
The next step is to review all the different types of communities and living arrangements that are available to mature adults, so you can find the rightsized home that is perfect for you. This may seem like a formidable task because there are myriad options out there, many with names and labels that may not be familiar to you. Our article this month will explore the most common types of mature adult rental living options in the market today, and provide some information to guide you in the right direction.
Generic terms like senior living and retirement community are still commonly used, but they are not very useful. Most living options for mature adults distinguish themselves with a focus on lifestyle and socialization or on some level supportive care, and terms like senior living and retirement community don’t address these features. To that end, communities that provide some level of care and/or support will label themselves as a Memory Care community, Assisted Living community, or Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), or possibly an Independent Living community that includes on-site care agency services. Communities that instead highlight active lifestyles, wellness, and socialization include the Independent Living portions of CCRCs, Independent Living communities without on-site agency services, and Apartments for adults age 55 and better. The differences between these categories can be confusing and challenging to decipher, but in general, the differences depend upon the level of care services provided and the amenities and programming included in the overall monthly cost.
When all these types of communities are viewed together, Memory Care communities would be placed at one end of the spectrum. These are specialized neighborhoods for individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of memory loss; care is offered around the clock, meals are included, and assistance with medication and daily activities such as bathing and grooming is provided. Assisted Living communities also offer meals, 24-hour care, and daily assistance, though the amount of care and assistance provided will vary by resident. These types of communities often offer different levels of fee-based services. Fees will fluctuate depending on how much or how little assistance each resident requires.
Independent Living communities differ from Assisted Living communities in the fact that Independent Living residents do not require assistance with medication or daily activities. Meals are still included, though, as are perks like a wellness program and access to a fitness center, salon, and other on-site amenities, for example. These amenities will vary by community. Continuing Care Retirement Communities are best described as communities that offer multiple levels of care, such as both Assisted Living and Independent Living as well as a Memory Care neighborhood and/or skilled nursing, all in one location.
At the other end of the spectrum are Apartments for adults age 55 and better, which may also be called Senior Lifestyle Apartment communities, 55+ Apartment communities, or Age-Restricted Apartment communities. This type of community is similar to an Independent Living community because they both provide a host of resort-style amenities, such as an included wellness or lifestyle program and an on-site fitness center, bistro, or other communal spaces, as well as maintenance free living. However, meals are not included, which means these communities tend to feature a fully-appointed kitchen in each apartment home, much like a standard multi-family apartment home. The absence of meal related-expenses also means Senior Lifestyle Apartment communities do not have rent rates that are as high as Independent Living communities. Plus, Senior Lifestyle Apartment communities do not usually require a significant buy-in fee at move-in, which is common for Continuing Care Retirement Communities.
Senior Lifestyle Apartments are becoming an increasingly popular option, and for good reason. They offer active mature adults the chance to move into a rightsized space that better suits them, without incurring extra (and potentially unnecessary or irrelevant) costs that are part of many other senior living communities. In addition, residents still get the benefit of joining a community of like-minded mature adults with similar interests and expectations, where they can enjoy maintenance-free living and a number of opportunities to engage in life-enhancing programs and events. This same opportunity may not be available in a standard multi-family apartment home community. For those seeking an inspired, maintenance-free lifestyle that promotes flexibility, security, individuality, and active living at an attainable monthly cost, Senior Lifestyle Apartments are an ideal option.
In our next entry, we will share tips on how to begin the physical process of rightsizing your belongings in preparation for your next exciting phase of life.