Living 50 Plus

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Senior living options abound

Senior living communities often present an affordable and comfortable option for adults over the age of 55. Filled with like-minded and similarly aged residents, these communities can be the right fit for individuals no longer interested in or capable of taking care of a larger home. Senior communities are located all across the country. Finding one that meets your needs takes only a little research.

Although they are often moderately priced and offer a variety of amenities, senior living communities sometimes suffer from a bad reputation. But such communities are not the "old age homes" that some people purport them to be. Rather, they're entire living neighborhoods that cater to the needs of an active resident base. These communities can range from independent living private homes or condos to managed care facilities. Residents may be able to enjoy organized outings, recreation, shopping, and socialization without having to venture far from property grounds. Some communities offer food services or an on-site restaurant.

Fifty-five and older communities offer conveniences that many find irresistible. They're frequently located close to shopping, dining and healthcare providers. Taxes, insurance, utilities, and maintenance expenses may be covered in one fee. Clubhouses, golf courses, lakes, card rooms, and many other offerings are designed to appeal to residents of many ages.

Now that baby boomers have reached the age where retirement communities are a consideration, there has been an influx of interest. Those considering a move to one of these communities should research some information before purchasing a unit.

• Determine the fees associated with a community. Can Medicaid or long-term care insurance pay for all or a portion of the fees? Which types of services does the monthly fee cover?

• Who is eligible to live in the community? Some restrict all residents to a particular age, while others do not. Rules may be in effect that include an age cut-off limit.

• Investigate the types of residents and who would be your immediate neighbors. What percentage of people live in the community all year long, and how many are part-time residents?

• Look into the particular home owner's association rules. Bylaws may indicate that the property must be kept in a certain manner. You may not be able to paint exterior items a certain color, nor put up fencing or set up outdoor patio furniture. Get the details before you sign anything.

• Is this the type of community where you can age in place? Meaning, are there separate accommodations if you eventually need assisted living care? Some communities offer living options that vary depending on residents' ages.

• Be sure there are activities or amenities that appeal to you. You eventually want to find your niche and get together with a group of friends who share the same interests.

• You may want to find a community close to your children or other relatives. This way you will not have to travel far to visit others, and they will be able to visit you easily in return.

• Some communities are gated, which can increase feelings of safety. If this is a priority, look for housing under security.

Following these guidelines can mean discovering a community where anyone can feel comfortable for years to come.