A retirement community is a place for active adults who are seeking things like exciting new friendships, stimulating educational opportunities and convenient lifestyles that help them thrive.
However, if you asked someone what they thought life in a retirement community was like, they might tell you something completely different. Why? Because there are a lot of myths out there muddying the waters.
Are you falling prey to these 10 myths about retirement communities?
Myth #1: Retirement communities are for old people who can’t take care of themselves any longer.
If you call 55 old, perhaps you have a point. However, this is a common misperception when it comes to retirement communities. In reality, continuing care retirement communities (also known as life plan communities) are meant for active older adults.
Residents of independent living communities must be healthy because no nursing care is provided. In many cases, retirement community residents continue to work, volunteer and travel. In other words, they continue doing what they enjoy because they have complete freedom to do so.
So why do older adults choose to move? The reasons vary depending on who you ask, of course, but generally people choose retirement communities to avoid the maintenance and upkeep that comes with running a household. At an active living community, residents not only enjoy convenient services and amenities but enriching social and lifelong learning opportunities, as well.
Myth #2: They’re too institutional.
This myth springs from an outdated misconception that retirement communities are nursing homes. Simply put, they’re not. They offer a much more active and comprehensive living experience.
While a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) does offer assisted living and skilled nursing services, “institutional” is the last word you would use to describe the environment. They’re designed to create a welcoming, home-like environment.
Visit an independent or assisted living community, and you’ll find private, well-decorated apartments with balconies or gardens and great views. At most independent and assisted living communities, you’ll enjoy delicious, nutritious meals freshly prepared by a chef.
Myth #3: It’s better to age in place.
Many people assume that it will be easier, less expensive and more enjoyable to stay at home and age in place. This, of course, is up to your personal preference.
However, it’s difficult to plan for future health needs. If you do plan to age in place, you’ll want to have a plan in place for 24-hour care, as well as home modifications. It’s not a given that you’ll need either, but the fact remains: 50-70 percent of people over the age of 65 will require some type of long-term care service at some point in their life.
The benefit of a retirement community that offers Lifecare is that no matter your future long-term care needs, it will be provided for you in private accommodations and familiar surroundings. It takes the worry out of future planning.
Myth #4: The good retirement communities are too expensive.
The truth is, you get what you pay for. Quality services are naturally going to cost a little more at the top retirement communities.
However, many communities offer ways to mitigate the expense, as well as seminars on ways to afford them. Compared to the cost of things like mortgages, property tax, maintenance, modifications, housekeeping, healthcare and transportation, many people find retirement living communities to be a comparable, even economical choice.
Myth #5: They’re depressing.
Today’s retirement living communities offer a wealth of activities for residents, no matter what level of care they need. Some of the higher end independent living communities offer college courses, painting classes, swimming, massages, travel clubs and more.
For example, Kendal communities are known for offering lifelong learning opportunities and community-guided experiences, ranging from travel clubs to painting classes to volunteer work. Many also offer libraries, media rooms, craft rooms and fitness centers.
In other words, modern retirement communities make it easy to lead an active, fulfilling lifestyle suited to your tastes and preferences.
Myth #6: You can’t host social events.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Apart from the community-wide social opportunities, retirement community residents are welcome to host dinners, parties or other social events—whether that’s for other community residents or outside guests.
Residents are welcome to host guests in their apartment homes. Additionally, most communities have a private dining room or other areas you can reserve for family or business events.
Myth #7: You can’t have overnight guests.
This is false because of one simple reason: it’s your home.
You have your own residence and you can invite anyone you wish. Many communities also offer a short stay or try-it residences where your guests may stay for a few days for a fee. Although the residences are designed for potential community members, most will work with you so your friend, family member or business associate may stay nearby.
Myth #8: You can’t bring your pet.
Most independent living communities will let you bring your pet. Some even offer areas to exercise your pet.
Additionally, you don’t need to worry about your pet if your health needs change. Many assisted living and 24-hour nursing communities have in-house pets—cats or dogs that are taken care of by staff and loved by residents.
Myth #9: I’m too young for a retirement community.
This myth ties into myth number one, that retirement communities are for “old people.” As we’ve mentioned, the communities are geared toward active, younger seniors.
Still, you may be thinking that the timing is not yet right to start looking at retirement communities. The truth is, it’s never too early to start looking. What’s more, it’s never too early to make the move. It’s best to have a plan in place for the future. Once you make the move, you can enjoy things like daily fine dining, full interior and exterior maintenance, fitness classes, and cultural and recreational activities.
Myth #10: You can’t work.
Working has never been prohibited at a retirement community. More and more people are opting to work as long as they can while living in an independent living community. Communities are supporting them with Wi-Fi and other technological tools, meeting rooms and transportation.
The Admiral at the Lake: Independent Living in Chicago, IL
The Admiral at the Lake is a life plan community in northside Chicago. Through our comprehensive retirement plan, Lifecare, residents enjoy an active life, financial security and priority access to long-term care.