Active Retirement Communities
As the number of senior citizens in the United States continues to grow, senior housing has become a pertinent issue for more people than ever. While many people over age 55 desire to downsize to an easily maintainable, more adult community when their kids finally enter the adult workforce, they do not require the scrupulous and centralized care of an assisted or independent living facility. This is the exact group who Active Retirement Communities are designed for.
What is an Active Retirement Community?
Active Retirement Communities (ARCs) specialize in providing seniors with a safe, exciting community of similarly aged individuals, without some of the more limiting restrictions of traditional retirement communities. Active Retirement Community residents can cook their own meals, drive their cars, and enjoy any other independent activities they enjoyed prior to transitioning into the community.
The value of Active Retirement Communities does not come in the care provided, but the community. Their purpose is to foster a community specifically designed to benefit those over 55. ARC’s are usually quiet and child free, and often have strong homeowners associations that handle snow removal, lawn care, and general upkeep. They include amenities like golf courses, club houses, fitness centers, and pools depending on location. Most critically, they include many social groups or volunteer programs to integrate into a community of similarly aged people, only a short walk away.
What are the different types of Active Retirement Communities?
ARC’s come in many shapes and sizes, as many communities cater to specific groups. Some ARC’s are non-smoking, singles only, pet friendly, or religiously affiliated. There are two main types of ARCs: age restricted, and age targeted. Age restricted communities require at least 80% of residents to be over the age of 55. Age targeted communities are looser, allowing for residents of all ages, but targeting their amenities to people over 55. Ownership agreements can vary, from outright purchase to rental, and size and model of the unit itself, ranging from single family home to condos and apartments.
One key difference between ARC’s and other retirement facilities is that you do not actually have to be retired to take up residence. A local director of one of the area’s largest active retirement communities shared that many of their residents have already raised families and continue to work from their new residence. These residents are still working and very active but want to get a head start on downsizing to an easily maintainable property for retirement.
What costs are associated with moving into an Active Retirement Community?
When making a pivotal financial decision such as senior housing, it is important to understand the costs and potential concerns of each option. Senior housing in Massachusetts is among the most expensive in the country, with an average cost of $4,003 monthly, compared to $2,545 monthly in a state like Florida. This does not include an initial membership fee, which can exceed six figures at some locations. Keep in mind these numbers are only averages and can vary widely based on factors such as location, size, and top-end amenities. There are also further fees associated with the homeowner’s associations of these communities, and these associations can sometimes be seen as overbearing.
ARC’s have less involved staff than assisted or independent living facilities. There are usually no on-site health services, communal meals or transportation, or staff to assist in daily household chores. This helps to keep ARC’s costs down, as well as maintaining their individual residents’ flexibility and freedom. Most costs associated with ARC’s are not covered by Medicare, Medicaid, or private long term care insurance, as these policies specifically do not cover “room and board”. However, residents do not forfeit other Medicare or Medicaid privileges just by relocating to an ARC, so services such as those for “homebound” residents or physical therapy will still be covered.
Active Retirement Communities provide a strong opportunity for affordable downsizing outlet for socialization as residents enter their golden years. Before making a decision of this magnitude, it is critical to consider all options. More information regarding preparation for retirement housing or senior living is available here and here.