Retirement homes aren’t just about bingo and card games anymore. Today’s seniors often prefer an active retirement lifestyle to maximize their golden years, and modern retirement communities have evolved to answer that call.
As one of the country’s premier retirement states, Arizona is brimming with retirement communities that tailor to all sorts of seniors. From resort-style condos with all-inclusive amenities to retired 55+ master planned communities, it’s safe to say there’s an ideal retirement community in Arizona for any senior seeking an active lifestyle.
What Is A Retirement Community?
A retirement community functions much like a master-planned community where the amenities are just as important as the accommodations. Most communities feature apartments, condos, and townhomes that keep residents close to the action, though there are plenty of communities with single family houses and trailers for those who don’t like to share a wall with their neighbors.
Retirement communities are often called “active retirement communities” for a reason — they’re designed to help seniors live out their golden years to the fullest with an active lifestyle. At a minimum, this means providing a plethora of social activities to keep the residents busy and meet new people.
Movement-focused activities like yoga, tai chi, zumba, and water aerobics are particularly popular these days, though you’ll find plenty of sedentary activities like game night and movie night for folks who want to rest their feet.
At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find retirement communities that function like an all-inclusive resort. These communities often have a cafe that serves chef-cooked, restaurant style meals, along with coveted amenities like a resort-style pool, fitness center, tennis courts, golf course, and more.
Whether we’re talking about a basic retirement community or an all-out resort-style paradise, retirement communities also handle all of the day-to-day headaches that seniors come to dread about home ownership. Community management should handle lawn care, maintenance, and repairs, and many communities offer extra services like housekeeping, trash removal, and laundry service.
Who Are Retirement Communities For?
Retirement communities are designed for independent seniors who can live on their own and take care of themselves. Most retirement community residents are looking to downsize from their “empty nest” family home, sometimes to capitalize on the house’s equity but always to eliminate the parts of homeownership that become difficult for seniors.
Mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, fixing the kitchen sink, and fussing over broken appliances is a thing of the past with retirement communities, and that’s a big draw for independent seniors who want to eliminate a few unnecessary headaches.
Age Requirements For Retirement Communities
You’ll often find that retirement communities have a minimum age threshold, usually age 55 but sometimes as high as age 65. When such age minimums exist, the retirement community is bound by the Fair Housing Act to ensure that at least 80% of their units have at least one person age 55 or older.
That’s not a problem for single seniors or married couples who are close in age, but it can be problematic when there’s a significant age gap between spouses. The age minimum also makes it difficult for seniors to take in their grandchildren, whether it’s just to spend the summer with grandma and grandpa or to become their legal guardian.
Who Should Avoid Retirement Communities
It’s possible for seniors who need some assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) to live in retirement communities when they have a home health aide, but home health care can only help so much. At some point, seniors who need regular assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, and eating may need to consider moving into an assisted living facility.
Note that some retirement communities include a sub-community or dedicated building for assisted living. The great thing about moving into one of these retirement communities is that if the day comes when you need to move into an assisted living facility, you can simply transition to the assisted living portion of your retirement community. In short, you won’t have to leave your friends and community behind in order to obtain the assistance that you need.
In the same breath, some (but not many) retirement communities also have a skilled nursing home on-site, with nurses and doctors who can provide 24-hour care and support.
Specialized Retirement Communities
Seniors with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease or dementia generally require a level of care that’s only available in assisted living facilities and skilled nursing homes. Hower, seniors with mild memory issues may be able to live in a retirement community.
It’s rare to find a full retirement community that specializes in memory care, but you’ll find that some retirement communities do offer special programs and accommodations for seniors with memory concerns.
Where To Find Retirement Communities In Arizona
You’ll find retirement communities all across the state of Arizona, so it’s usually pretty easy to locate an ideal community that suits your needs. Some of the more popular cities for retirement communities include Scottsdale, Sedona, Sun City, Litchfield Park, Prescott, Cave Creek, Paradise Valley, Cottonwood, and Golden Valley.
Questions To Keep In Mind As You Evaluate Retirement Communities
Searching for an ideal retirement community can be fun, but evaluating the different options can be challenging when you get down to the nitty gritty details. Here are a few questions to consider as you’re narrowing down your list:
- Can you see yourself leaving your family home to live at this retirement community?
- What community amenities are most important to you?
- Do you have a preference for weather conditions?
- Do you have an ideal location, such as out in the quiet desert or in the busy city?
- Do you need to live close to medical facilities?
- Are you comfortable with the retirement community’s HOA covenants regarding amenities, maintenance, and development?
Ultimately, you’ll want to visit your finalist choices in person to determine where you’ll find the best fit. Most retirement communities welcome visitors for extended visits so that prospective residents can tour the amenities, mingle with future neighbors, sample the food, and attend a social activity to see what day-to-day life might be like.