The move to senior housing years ago was primarily made due to need. Typically, a health crisis forced the issue. But more active older adults are making the move to senior living communities as a lifestyle choice, so they can take advantage of the services, amenities and opportunities now, and know they have access to health services before they need them.
Senior Living Community Lifestyles
The day may start off with a group hike in the nature preserve across the street. It could move to an afternoon shift as a volunteer at the cultural museum a few blocks away. And it can end with a game of poker or a concert by the local university’s classical music students.
This is life at senior living communities across the country. Who’s enjoying this kind of lifestyle? A lot of people like you.
Whether you visit an independent living community, an assisted living community or a Life Plan Community (also known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community), you’ll find residents participating in a host of different activities, programs, clubs and committees. It’s not about simply keeping busy – these opportunities are designed to give residents choices to do what they want, find fulfillment, and thrive during their retirement years.
You’ll also find that each community’s culture is shaped by the people who live there. So you’ll see some communities oriented toward volunteerism and social action, for example, while others thrive on culture, academia or the outdoors.
What Are Residents Really Like?
Residents come from all walks of life. Teachers, nurses, small business owners, big business CEOs, university professors, housewives, lawyers, engineers, musicians – and more – are making the choice for senior living in a community setting. Current residents will tell you these diverse backgrounds open the door to wonderful conversations and friendships. And contrary to what you might think, most independent living residents are quite active.
The average age of senior living residents is about 84 years old. While there are plenty of couples in these communities, most independent living residents are women. There are some who move in close to the minimum age requirement (usually about 65), but most make the move between the ages of 75 and 84. The typical assisted living resident is an 87-year-old woman who needs help with two or three activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing and medication management.
The Benefits of Belonging to a Senior Living Community
Some seniors worry they’ll give up too much and their quality of life will go downhill if they move to a retirement community. But in fact, many residents and their families report that the overall quality of life goes up for seniors living in communities.
Research into senior health has proven that:
- Older adults who report the highest levels of well-being and happiness are those who socialize, work or volunteer and exercise.
- Having healthy social relationships is a significantly higher predictor of longevity and is associated with reduced rates of depression and better cognitive health.
- Older adults who are physically active have lower rates of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and some cancers, as well as higher levels of functional and cognitive health.
Senior living communities create opportunities to engage in all those areas. They’re built into every day, all in one place. Add to that regular, nutritious meals, access to medical care, and services and amenities that relieve the burdens of homeownership, and it’s easy to see why more seniors have decided this as a great way to enjoy the good life.
- Demographic and Financial Determinants of Housing Choice in Retirement and the Rise of Senior Living, National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, 2015.
- National Center for Assisted Living.
- National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care.
- Social Group Memberships in Retirement Are Associated with Reduced Risk of Premature Death, published in BMJ Open, January 2016.
- 2016 Family Quality of Life Survey, A Place for Mom.
- Physical Activity and Older Adults, World Health Organization.
- Live Long, Die Short: A Guide to Authentic Health and Successful Aging. Roger Landry. Greenleaf Book Group Press, 2014.