Find out more about choosing the best type of retirement communities

Confused about all the different types of retirement and active adult communities?

People are understandably confused about the many terms used to describe the various types of retirement communities used in the industry. Marketing people have been working overtime, it seems, coming up with new terms and types to describe what most people used to know as just a "retirement home ". It gets even more complicated since there is a plethora of "100 best places to retire" and other types of retirement resources. Read on to see a brief glossary of these names, which are often used interchangeably. Here at Topretirements we try to label the communities when we are aware that they fit these classifications.

Click on the links to find out more about each one.

1. Mixed generation communities (or mixed age communities)

If you are not retired, this is the type of community you probably live in now. These are communities where people of all ages live together - whether it is a town or a development.

2. Independent living facilities (these are often, but not always multi-family properties)

--- over 50 communities - You have to be 50+ (or over 50 years of age) to live in these communities. Typically if one of a couple is at least 50, it is OK for a younger spouse to live there. Sometimes children are restricted to a fixed amount of days per year, or other type of restriction.

- 55 plus retirement communities - Similar to above, these 55 plus facilties are designed for people who are 55 years of age are older (55+ communities).

- 60+ communities - See above, except the age limit begins at 60 and over. This is less common than 55 and over communities.

age restricted communities - In this type of community there is some type of age restriction imposed on the residents. Usually one of the family members must meet some minimum age restriction; children are generally not welcome as long term residents.



3. Active Adult Communities Usually privately owned homes or condos with more recreational facilities than just over 50 type communities. But the term can be used to mean many different types of communities.

- adult communities - A real estate development that has a target audience of people of at least 45 years of age, generally a bit older such as 55 plus active adults.. Adult is code for senior, not a favorite term for baby boomers.

- active adult communities - This is marketing-speak for a community of retirement age people, basically an adult community but one which promises facilities to provide a more active lifestyle. No one wants to think of themselves as being inactive, after all.

- active lifestyle communities - Not really very much different than the preceding. Active lifestyle sounds appealing, in fact it's a lot better than "sedentary old folks home"!

4. Other Types of Communities

- cohousing (co-housing) - A new concept where people of similar interests live together in communities, sharing some responsibilities and activities. They might even agree to take care of one another in certain ways. Most of these communities pride themselves on being "green", or environmentally sustainable. Cohousing is a form of aging in place.

- college town retirement communities - A very appealing concept to many baby boomers. Often people who retire to a college town might have attended that college. Click the link to find out more about retiring to a college town.

- baby boomer retirement - The next big demographic tsunami. Marketers are waiting, planning, and developing to try to anticipate exactly what types of retirement communities baby boomers will retire to. Most agree - these communities can't be quite the same as what their parents wanted.

- Certified retirement communities- A few states (Texas, Lousiana, Mississippi, Kentucky, West Virginia) have started programs to recognize cities and towns that have worked hard to provide the facilities and environment to attract retirees.

-Naturally occuring retirement communities- This movement encourages and allows people to retire in their existing homes. There are some places in the country, often in cities, where a larger than average percentage of teh population is of retirement age. In some cases they have banded together for mutual assistance - Beacon Hill Villageis perhaps the most famous example.

- retirement communities - This was the original concept for a place for people to live in retirement. In these communities you live in your own house, apartment, or condominium, as opposed to the more traditional concept of "retirement homes", where everyone lives communally (and more like where your grandparents might have gone for their oldest years. Generally these places don't have as many recreational and communal facilities as an active adult community.

- Green or sustainable communities - Many baby boomers would prefer to live in a community that is easy on the environment and which consumes less energy, water, resources. This article explains the pitfalls of listening to unsubstantiated marketing claims about "eco-sensitive" etc.

-retirement villages- This is more of an Australian and New Zealand concept than American. We were surprised what we learned when we researched the term.



5. Assisted Living and Eldercare Options at - Housing with More Advanced Care:

- Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs). This hybrid concept, now also called Life Communities or Life Care,  provides independent living as well as assisted living and nursing care. For example one spouse might need extensive nursing care, but the other can continue to live in her own apartment, even cooking some or all of her own meals. If the other spouse recovers, they can move back to the apartment.

--Assisted living- These types of communities typically provide multi-family buiildings with services such as meals, housekeeping, medical services, transportation, etc.

- Retirement home - Where your grandparents might have lived. Increasingly this is for the very aged, similar to assisted living in ways but not as hard core as a nursing home

- Nursing home - Usually the last stop for the elderly. The level of care is very high and skilled nursing care is a hallmark.

So now that you know the terms - need help finding the community that is right for you?

For objective facts and insightful opinions on the best active adult retirement communities you've come to the right place - The easy-to-read community profiles on this site make it seem like you have actually visited over 1000 communities designed for active adults 55+ without leaving your home.

Find out more about the pros and cons of retirement in different states now. Enjoy!