Over 55 living communities (also known as retirement communities, senior living communities or independent retirement communities) offer community-style housing specifically designed for people aged 55 years and older. Most residents of over 55 lifestyle communities don’t need assistance with daily activities or self-care. Read on to find out all you need to know about how over 55 living communities work.
What exactly are over 55 living communities?
These community facilities can be either privately or publicly owned, and are sometimes run as not-for-profit organisations.
They are different from aged care facilities
Over 55 living communities should not be confused with aged living facilities or nursing homes, which cater for a completely different population. The gap between retirement and the need for aged care can be wide and is often a time of transition for older people. Unlike aged care facilities, where residents tend to need a higher level of care and support, over 55 properties are designed for seniors who are looking for a maintenance-free lifestyle, access to activities, social connections and convenient services and amenities. They are designed for independent retirees who are able to live on their own with minimal assistance or supervision, and are considering downsizing and living a freer lifestyle. They offer the best of both worlds, with independence and flexibility in a shared community with people who are similar in age and interests.
Over 55 living communities alleviate the loneliness and isolation often experienced as people get older. Communities offer an in-built network of social contacts and friends, as well as access to social events and activities. Connecting with other like-minded people brings a sense of belonging and wellbeing that is hard to find elsewhere. Over 55 living communities also offer safety and security for older people. Residents of senior living communities also have the opportunity to travel freely without the burden of managing and maintaining a home.
In contrast, aged care facilities are ideal for older people who need daily assistance and are unable to live independently. They offer assistance with tasks such as personal care, eating and medication.
The financial side works differently
The housing and living costs for senior lifestyle communities are likely to be less than living in your own home, and offer retirees the opportunity to downsize. Typically, rather than buying your own home and land, residents of such communities buy the right to occupy a home under a lease. General services such as sewerage, electricity, water, building insurance and maintenance, administrative services, gardening, emergency nurse call, use of community facilities etc. are usually included in this package.
They offer different types of housing choices
Over 55 living communities are not just cookie-cutter places, but offer a wide range of choices of housing types. Depending on the facility, you may be able to choose:
- Housing units
- Senior apartments, townhouses or condominiums
- Single-family homes, duplexes or cottages
- Subsidised housing
- Continuing care facilities
They offer a variety of facilities
Over 55 living facilities are very community-like, and offer a number of facilities onsite, rather like a geographical community. Depending on the facility, you may be able to find:
- Dining services or restaurants
- Housekeeping and laundry services
- Social programs
- Pools and spas
- Gyms and exercise classes
- Sporting facilities such as tennis courts
- Live-in managers
- Emergency alert systems
- Beauty and hairdressing services
- Health services such as massage therapy or podiatry
- Transportation services
- Social programs
- Activity programs
What’s it like living in an over 55 lifestyle community?
Most people who move into these facilities are there by choice, because they want the lifestyle offered by these communities. There are plenty of opportunities for socialising, leisure, hobbies, sports and holidays – without the burden of time-consuming home and garden maintenance.
Loneliness can often be a problem for older people, especially as children leave home and start living their own lives. Retirement can add to this problem, often leaving a void in people’s lives that can be hard to fill. There are strong links between loneliness and depression, as well as other health conditions. Loneliness can have a very real negative impact on both mental and physical health for older Australians.
Over 55 living communities can help fill the void by providing a community of like-minded people to live and socialise with. Such communities often provide a wonderful community feel that alleviates the loneliness that older people often feel. Many people find lifelong friends in over 55 communities, which can have a huge influence on wellbeing and quality of life.
As well, you have the safety and security aspect of such a community. Older people can often feel vulnerable in their homes, especially at night or if they live alone. Over 55 living communities offer safety and security features that help residents feel safe, supported and comfortable. Living in this type of community can provide great peace of mind. If you want to find out more about over 55 living communities and how they can benefit you, contact Alumuna, a retirement housing community for the independently minded retiree, on (02) 5504 6518 or visit the website here