What can I expect living in retirement communities?

by the Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 02, 2011

There are conceivably as many different types of retirement communities as there are meal plan options within the communities, therefore you should begin your search for the perfect senior home by considering the features you find to be the most important.  You will want to carefully consider what activities and amenities you don’t want to do without versus those that would simply be nice to have.

Activities within Retirement Communities


One of the primary reasons seniors look to retirement communities is the rich and varied levels of activities provided.  Seniors can find themselves feeling isolated and lonely in their homes, therefore a retirement community can offer the social activities which will stimulate the mind and keep the body active. Most retirement homes offer craft classes, such as sewing, knitting, quilting or even scrapbooking for those who have these interests—or would like to develop them.

Many retirement communities also offer drawing and painting classes as well as a wide variety of physical activities which typically will include golf, swimming, tennis, as well as organized exercise classes. Field trips are common in most retirement communities, for those residents who are physically able to leave their home. These field trips can include trips to the movies, the zoo, museums if you happen to live in a larger city, or even shopping malls.

Retirement communities will also typically organize board games, card games or other activities which the residents consider fun on a regular basis. When visitors come, they are usually also welcome to participate in the organized activities.

Meals within Retirement Communities


It’s important to determine whether meals are included in your monthly rates with the retirement community of your choice. Generally speaking, most retirement communities consider meals an option, and will offer a meal plan which can include only dinner, lunch and dinner, or, in some cases, all three daily meals plus snacks. The cost will depend on the retirement community you choose as well as how extensive the meal plan is.

The different meal plans allow those who are still independent enough to prepare their own meals that option, especially for the simpler meals such as breakfast and lunch. Many residents like being able to have dinner in the communal dining room so they can enjoy the social atmosphere as well as save the trouble of preparing their own dinner. Having at least one prepared meal per day is a nice convenience, allowing more time each day for activities you find more pleasurable than cooking.

Some higher end retirement homes will offer multiple meal venues such as a formal dining room one evening, and a more casual restaurant bistro the next. Lest you worry that the meals will be “institutional” in taste, never fear—many of the retirement communities have a talented chef on staff that takes great pride in presenting both healthy and appealing meals.

Features of Retirement Communities


Most retirement communities include in their overall fee most utilities, transportation, social activities, laundry facilities, building and grounds maintenance, security and some form of chapel or regular church service. Many have a communal gathering area with a big screen television, game room, fully equipped kitchenette and possibly picnic areas, depending on the home you choose.

Other available options may include housekeeping services, physical, occupational and speech therapy, weekly laundry service, and even catering for a special party. More and more retirement communities are allowing residents to bring pets, which can be a big draw for those who have beloved animals they just can’t bear to leave behind.

Once you’ve chosen a retirement home for your future senior living, you will want to meet with the staff and have them explain the ins and outs of retirement home living as well as their unique offerings and services.

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