Nov 21st, 2011 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Pros and Cons of Retirement Communities

For four years, Sharon and I were residents in a retirement community.  We weren’t retired, but employed and lived there, as a requirement of our employment, in a provided home.  An additional requirement was and remains that one of the members of the household had to be 55 years of age.  No one younger, even if cared for because of health issues, unless a special stipulation is made and approved, may live in the household.  There are no schools, playgrounds or other activity centers for children or youth.  They are not allowed, except for short term visits at holidays or in the summer.  Churches offer no Sunday schools, typically, for children and youth.

The entire purpose of a “retirement community” (whether it is an actual town or city, or a self-enclosed facility, is to offer free rein for the retiree to enjoy his/her/both of their lives in a setting that is focused on their needs, desires, interests, and conditions. It is literally possible to move there without ever having to move from the compound again.  There is an assisted care facility, an Alzheimer’s unit, and other specialty services specifically and especially designed for an aging population.

This particular community, like many located around the country, provides a large complex for entertainment, several pools and exercise centers, biking trails, walking areas, games of all kinds (indoors and out), crafts and hobbies galore.  Joining in these multiple activities is like choosing from a smorgasbord at a banquet.

Conformity is an expectation, though persons may choose to live a more isolated existence.  Even specialty interests such as woodworking and art are provided for.

Living here often means transport by means of a golf cart, within the confines of the compound, is allowed.  Eating out is a favored activity, restaurants abound, but must be sensitive to retirees’ constraints on spending.  There are membership country clubs, with dining rooms.  Golf is the preferred and number one activity both for women and men.

Excursions are frequent. Large buses offer transport to exotic places from one day to several, often provided at no cost by the destination where money will be spent and entertainment enjoyed. Clubs of all types and ilk are available.

Life Style Implications and Choices

Both Jewish and Christian worship services are offered, usually in well appointed and famililar liturgical settings.  One does not change much, nor need to, when moving into a retirement coummunity.  One interesting factor is that, particularly in distant geographical locations far from one’s previous home, cremation is often the preferred form of a memorial service and burial, thus avoiding great expense for travel to  one’s previous home or shipping a loved one home.

Many residents, so long as their health and economics allow, divide their time between their winter home, usually in a sunbelt state and their summer home, back wherever it is located. Some travel by means of a motor home, parking it in an RV lot for the duration of their stay.  For some, the RV becomes their primary home.

There are costs associated with this life style, of course, that must be investigated and studied carefully.  In this economic downturn, it is likely a good time for a well placed buyer to shop for a second or retirement home in one of the desirable locations available across the south and southwest.  Researching all the implications will require considerable time and lots of questions. A trip to one of these locations is often encouraged with free accommodations provided while you explore the desirability of living there.  As in all cases, remember there are downsides.  Examine carefully from your life style point of view, and decide or not accordingly.

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