The Benefits of Living in Adult Retirement Homes

Posted on April 19, 2021

In 2016, 6.8% of Canadians over 65 and 30% of Canadians over 85 were living in adult retirement communities. As the Canadian population ages, these percentages will only grow. So what is an adult retirement community, and what are the benefits?

Living with other active seniors helps ease retirement boredom. It can also help keep residents physically and mentally fit. These communities offer onsite medical care, home maintenance, and other services that older adults need.

Most retirement communities are limited to adults over the age of 55. The residents are usually a blend of working, semi-retired, and fully retired adults. Some communities have higher or lower age restrictions. However, most of these communities are only for older adults. Children and other relatives under 55 years old are not allowed to live in the communities full time.  

It can be difficult to sell your home in a retirement community as the eligible pool of buyers is smaller than for a regular house. However, most retirement community residents stay in their homes for the duration of their life. But what are the steps to joining one of these 55 plus retirement communities?

Determine Your Finances

Retired Active Couple Image

When you start looking for a retirement community, an important factor to consider is the cost. It can cost over $4,500 a month to live in some retirement communities in Canada. How much it costs is determined by location and the type of community it is, and what the offered amenities are.

On the surface, active senior communities seem very expensive. However, the fees for these communities cover services that you would be paying for outside of the community, such as utilities, groceries, and medical care. 

In some communities, you buy your house or apartment, but the accommodation is part of the fee in others. The fee also covers home and grounds maintenance, nursing care, and any activities, classes, or special facilities (like gyms, pools, medical facilities) onsite. 

Some types of insurance may also help cover these costs, particularly medical costs. Depending on the level of medical care you need, disability insurance or critical illness insurance might cover part of the expense. 

Once you know what your budget is, what your insurance will cover, and what kinds of accommodation and services you need and want, it's time to look for a community. 

Finding a Property

Couple with a Retirement Property Image

Deciding to move into 55 and older housing is a big decision. However, moving into a retirement property is a good way to maintain an active, social lifestyle while taking care of your changing medical and daily care needs. 

The social life is one of the biggest advantages of moving into an active retirement community. These communities bring in people from all walks of life, so there is no shortage of people to talk to who share your interests and activities. You can even choose a property that's aimed towards a special interest, such as a community for nature lovers or activists.

As people age, their social circles tend to shrink as they leave their jobs and their children finish school. In a retirement community, your social circle will widen again, and you won't be dependent on your family for companionship. 

There are many benefits of maintaining a social life in retirement. They include better mental health and mood, better immune system health, and a reduced risk of cognitive issues and diseases like Alzheimer's. 

Aside from increased socialization, reduced home maintenance is another important perk of retirement communities. Maintaining a home of any size is difficult all by yourself. As physical labour becomes harder, this maintenance can become impossible. 

In a retirement property, the onsite staff takes care of yard work and snow shoveling, and home repairs. You don't have to worry about maintenance difficulties when you choose the property you want. 

What Should I Look for in a Retirement Community?

Retirement Community Image

Once you have a sense of the types of retirement communities available to you, you should make two lists: one for your needs and one for your wants. You want to choose a community you'll be happy in long-term that will also help you navigate changing medical and care needs. 

What About the Surrounding Area?

When you make your lists, you should consider what you'll want easy access to outside of the retirement community. Nearby stores, parks, museums, and other cultural attractions are all things to consider.

There are plenty of beautiful and exciting places to retire in Canada. Most people also choose based on proximity to family and friends. Spending more time with loved ones is one of the benefits of retirement, so choosing a community close to them might be important to you. 

Research the Activities

The surrounding area is important, but so are all the activities inside the community. Finding the right match will help you get the most enjoyment out of your retirement experience. 

Research the types of social activities a community offers and any information they have on who their community members are. If you want like-minded people to pursue your hobbies and interests with, finding a club or social group already in place in a community could be ideal.

Most retirement communities also offer activities like fitness classes, game rooms, or movie nights. Think about the lifestyle you want to lead, and see if the facilities you are considering offer activities that match that lifestyle. 

Another important consideration is mealtimes. Some people prefer to eat in privacy, while others may be looking for a more social experience. Others might want the flexibility to choose who they want to eat with based on their mood. Dietary restrictions and food choices are also important to consider.

Some people might want to learn new skills or take short trips with a group during their retirement. Look at the kinds of excursions and classes the senior living facility offers, and see if they interest you. You don't want to choose a place that doesn't excite you. 

Where Should I Start Looking?

There are many adult retirement communities in Canada, so the choices might seem overwhelming at first. Your lists of wants and needs, your location preferences, and your finances can help you narrow down your choices.

Start planning early if you're able so that you can thoroughly explore all of your options. Knowing ahead of time what kind of insurance and government paperwork you need can help smooth the transition as well.

You don't have to make the decision alone. Involving your family in the discussion can be beneficial for everyone. Planning ahead for potential medical needs before they arise will help give your whole family peace of mind. 

Are Adult Retirement Communities a Good Investment?

Retired Couple with Dog Image

Recently, there have been a lot of troubling stories about retirement communities in Ontario. The COVID-19 pandemic has done a lot of damage to retirement communities across the nation and the world. However, mismanagement and poor practices in some communities don't mean that all retirement communities are bad.

While the pandemic has also made many of the best parts of retirement difficult or impossible, there is an end in sight. As vaccinations rise, especially for older people, soon you'll be able to enjoy all of the benefits of retirement again fully.

Additionally, there are many types of 55 and older housing communities. Only some of these communities are owned by the province or private entity. In many of these communities, the residents own their own homes, and the community functions more like a Home Owner's Association. 

If you're worried about the resale value of your retirement property, you don't need to be. Over 55 real estate has become increasingly popular over the last few years. These communities often have waiting lists for potential new residents. 

While you can't necessarily leave your home to your children (unless they become eligible residents before you die), there are plenty of people more than willing to buy property in over 55 retirement communities.

These communities are holding their value. Chances are if you love your retirement community, so will other people. Even if your home in the retirement community is not your last home, you'll still be making a good investment in your future with an over 55 community property.

Choosing the Best Future for You

There are numerous benefits to joining adult retirement communities. They can help you transition into a healthy, active retirement while providing you with any medical care that you need. 

Most communities don't cost any more than it does to live on your own, with the added bonus of a robust social life and activity calendar. With the right insurance, you won't need to worry about medical costs, either. Get a quote today for the best insurance for you, so you can find the best retirement home for you too.

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