Retirement Communities: Your Complete Guide

Entertainment. Warmth. Kindness. Laughter. Friendship. Are these the first things that come to mind when you picture a retirement community? That’s how it should be. Retirement communities designed for senior living are comfortable places where seniors can sit back and relax. Here, you can take a quick look at how options such as these can offer families freedom and assurance.

What Percentage of Older Adults Live in Retirement Communities?

Studies indicate that 4.5% of seniors live in nursing homes. That’s about 1.5 million people. While 1 million or 2% prefer assisted living facilities. Most seniors, or 93.5%, live in a retirement community. That’s roughly 33.4 million older adults.

Quick Look at the Retirement Community Spectrum

By 2050, more than a fifth of the American population will be over the age of 65, compared to just 15.6% in 2021. With a rapidly aging population, care and housing for seniors will become the go-to choice. A retirement community has exactly what it takes to give people that much-needed support.

This housing complex or residential community is meant for people who can generally take care of themselves. However, they often need some assistance and the chance to socialize. That’s why seniors get access to shared amenities and services.

Moving to a retirement community might seem like you’ve reached an end of an era. But, the truth is, your adventure has just begun. With this newfound freedom, seniors have the opportunity to thrive and relish in new social circles. The place is packed with like-minded individuals. Besides, retirement communities come in different types. Take a look at the options below.

Memory Care or Assisted Living

Designed to give older adults peace of mind in a residential setting. While offering social engagement, a healthy lifestyle, and medication management at the same time. Seniors who choose assisted living need a higher level of support.

Independent Living

Favored for their least regulated, supervised, and restrictive living space, independent living is a popular choice for older adults. The primary focus is the social needs of residents who can live independently without that much support. Unlike assisted living, residents can handle their daily tasks and prefer to keep their independence.

Congregate Housing

Seniors in congregate housing often get to share at least a single meal a day with other residents. This is a type of housing where a senior gets their own living quarters. Yet, shares some facilities, like recreational rooms and dining areas, with other seniors. A congregate care facility is a housing plan between assisted living and age-restricted independent living. The main difference is that these care homes don’t provide help with daily living activity services.

Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)

Do you want better stability and an amenity-rich lifestyle? Then, CCRC might be your best bet. Commonly referred to as a life plan community, this option comes with onsite high-level care. It creates a maintenance-free lifestyle without the bothersome cleaning or cooking. Including a number of residential options with independent living. Like a studio, condominium, duplex, etc.

Senior Cohousing

For many seniors, senior cohousing offers an ample opportunity to socialize with clustered homes around a shared space. It’s also less expensive than assisted living.

Leisure/Lifestyle-Oriented Community (LORCs)

To find fulfillment, seniors enjoy spending time in communities that pay attention to a different lifestyle. Such as faith-based, boating, luxury, gay or lesbian retirement communities. The community’s culture is also shaped by the residents who spend time there. So, it’s not uncommon to find a retirement community oriented towards volunteering and socializing.

Mobile Homes

A manufactured home community is often more affordable than a site-built home. These are what we call “tiny homes,” which make for an inexpensive retirement home purchase. Options such as these are best tailored towards active older adults who don’t need much daily support. Residents such as these also like to have their own space without sharing too many facilities like they would with senior cohousing.


Each type of retirement community has something unique to offer. Although switching to community life may seem overwhelming, it can make life more comfortable and ease the burden on families. With the help of a retirement community, older adults can find a strong sense of purpose and belonging. No matter what they pick, they can age and live well in a cozy environment.

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Manda Ayoub

Manda is a nurse and a licensed nursing home Administrator in the state of Michigan. She has worked through all aspects of the post-acute healthcare industry, holding various positions including Infection Control Nurse, In-service Director, Quality Assurance Director, Risk Manager and a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator.