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Understanding Your Senior Living Options

The Differences Between 55+ Communities, Active Adult Communities, Stand-Alone Senior Apartment Complexes, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) and More

When it comes to senior living choices for healthy older adults, there is seemingly no shortage of different options to choose from, and the terminology around these various offerings can get pretty nebulous and confusing.

The Legacy Senior Communities is a resource to those searching for the right senior living option for them or a loved one, and to that end, we’d like help clear up some of the confusion surrounding the different types of senior living communities currently in the market.

55+ Communities/Active Adult Communities

55+ Communities and Active Adult Communities are two terms which are essentially synonymous – sometimes they are even referred to as 55+ Active Adult Communities. These are simply age-restricted communities. That’s it. They are often master-planned neighborhoods with stand-alone houses, condos or townhouses. They may offer various services and amenities such as landscaping services, community center or a pool, etc.

The main difference between 55+ Active Adult Communities and traditional retirement options (CCRCs, Assisted Living, etc.) is that the former is for people who can live independently and do not want access to any additional care services.

Despite the lack of medical staff or services, 55+ Active Adult Communities are becoming a very popular option with baby boomers and other older adults who wish to live an active and independent lifestyle. Additionally, many age-restricted senior housing communities provide low income senior apartments for those who no longer have a steady flow of income in their retirement. This leads us to our next category: Senior Apartment Complexes.

Senior Apartment Complexes

Senior apartment complexes are more or less defined by the level of medical and support services offered. Some are just 55+ / Active Adult Communities with apartments rather than homes, condominiums or townhouses. Often classified as Independent Living Apartments, these – like the 55+ Active Adult Communities – are for older adults who are in good health and who require little to no supplementary care services.

There are also Assisted Living Senior Apartments, which offer medical services as well as support services that some older adults require, such as meal preparation, dressing, bathing and other activities of daily living. Assisted Living Apartments do not offer the same degrees of independence and privacy as the previous types of communities, as apartments need to be accessible to medical and other support personnel.

Retirement Communities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) or Life Plan Communities

“Retirement community” is really the catch-all term in the senior living lingo. Retirement communities include: 55+ Active Adult communities, Senior Apartments, Independent Living communities, Assisted Living communities, Memory Care communities and Skilled Nursing communities (Nursing Homes).

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) or Life Plan Communities, on the other hand, are a bit different. They offer multiple levels of care on a single campus, with most offering Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care and Skilled Nursing services. Not all will offer every level of care, and some have other services, such as The Legacy Willow Bend’s Healthcare Center, which offers short-term rehabilitation for both residents and non-residents alike.

The main benefit of a CCRC is that you have access to most or all of the services you will ever need on one campus. That is, should you ever need to move to a higher level of care – say from Independent Living to Assisted Living – you simply move from one part of the community to another. This allows the peace of mind of knowing you can age in place and not have to worry about moving away from friends of loved ones should you need some level of care.

Many CCRCs also offer buy-in programs (such as The Legacy Willow Bend’s Life Care Program) which have several benefits. They allow participating residents to move to a higher level of care at discounted rates compared to market rates, which can be especially enticing for someone who moves into the community at a relatively early age and/or low level of care. These programs also offer financial security, with many plans returning a portion of the buy-in upon your departure from the community.

These buy-in programs are usually voluntary, with most CCRCs allowing residents to move in at any level of care, they simply have to pay the market rate for that level of care.

If you would like to learn more about the senior living options offered at The Legacy Willow Bend, or if you have any questions about senior living options in general, you can call our senior living experts at (972) 468-6208 to learn more.