At some point in life we all find ourselves having to think seriously about our options for old age. We all want to retain as much independence as possible so most people dread the thought of ending up in residential care homes. Some people are happy to move in with their children—if the children are happy with that—but most find it much more satisfying to continue to live life on their own terms. Thankfully, the growth of retirement communities means that today’s retirees have a better option. Moving into a community like this means finding a home where you can continue to enjoy life for the rest of your days.
How retirement communities work
When you move into a retirement community you can either rent or buy a one or two person home there, and there are usually flexible membership options that determine which other facilities you want to sign up for. Some retirement communities have application policies designed to make sure they’re attracting the right kind of people, and some are themed around particular lifestyles—for instance, there are communities for Southern Baptists and communities for former academics—making it easier to choose a place where you’ll fit in. All these communities are designed to be as accessible as possible, with level pathways, ramps and lifts so that developing mobility problems are not a barrier to being active. Many have on-site stores or can arrange deliveries so you don’t have to go anywhere unless you want to, and they usually have vibrant social scenes.
When to take the plunge
If you’re thinking of moving to a community like this, you don’t have to wait until you’re starting to struggle. There are many healthy, active people in their sixties living in these places, and new arrivals keep things interesting. It’s wise to check out the quality of health facilities if you plan to stay there permanently, as most residents do, but that doesn’t mean you need to start using them straight away. As well as doctors on call and bookable on-site personal care provision, many retirement communities also offer facilities geared towards general well being, such as spas. They tend to be set amid beautiful surroundings so a lot of residents keep fit by regularly going walking.
Things to do
In a good retirement community, the beauty of the countryside is combined with the best aspects of urban life, so you’ll never run short of things to do. Sporting activities such as tennis, swimming and golf are common, and you’ll also find gentler activities like pool and Ping-Pong as well as card and board games for those with less energy. Dining facilities are always available (sometimes extending to home delivered catering for those who come to need it) and there’s usually at least one bar. Often there’s a library, which may stock films as well as books, and internet access is now pretty much universal, making it easy for you to keep in touch with friends and family members elsewhere. A retirement community isn’t a place people go to die—it’s a place where, no matter how old you are, you can really live.