55 Plus Senior Apartment Guide

Choosing the right 55+ senior living community for yourself or a loved one is a big decision requiring a lot of research and even more care. Care is essential because the decision involves emotional sensitivity, resistance and mixed feelings within the family.
Care is also essential when assessing insurance coverage and finances. Finding the right senior living community only to discover out-of-pocket expenses are not affordable can be deflating. Sometimes there is either resistance or financial limitations. Choosing with care simply means finding a comfortable environment capable of meeting safety, medical and lifestyle needs.

The purpose of a senior living community varies with each style of community. Some facilities are designed to handle medical/disability needs and are staffed with trained, medical professionals. Others cater to residents still independent and not in need of medical or daily assistance. There are long-term permanent communities where residents spend the rest of their lives. Temporary, respite homes are designed for shorter stays during medical recovery periods. Read on to learn tips on choosing the right 55+ senior living community for yourself or a loved one.

Why Would Someone Choose to Live in a 55+ Senior Community? 

Reasons to live in a 55+ senior living community need not be limited to access to medical supervision. Not all 55+ residences are designed with medical needs in mind. Many senior communities include social activities and compatible lifestyles for similarly aged people. Members of these communities may still be working and driving their own cars. Monthly and weekly group activities are held in a central building or gathering facility. Communities like this allow seniors to stay happy, social and active amongst friends all enjoying the same pace of life. 

There are, conversely, more intense reasons for moving into a senior living facility. The inability to safely climb stairs can be a factor. Many senior residences are only one-story buildings. Losing a spouse is never easy and moving to a community to be around other people is often uplifting and reassuring. In some cases, mental faculties become diminished and assistance with finances, taking medications and daily chores is required. There are also situations where income and/or retirement funds are inadequate to stay in a present home and moving to a more affordable senior community is necessary. 

Understanding the care needed to choose the right senior living community is crucial to making the best decision. Understanding why someone would choose to live in one is also important. There are many different types of residences available. Which type 55+ senior living community is right for you? 

Types of 55+ Senior Living Communities

  • Respite care facilities offer residence options as short as one week all the way to a few months of time. One main purpose of respite care is housing people in need of assisted recovery from surgeries, accidents or major illnesses. A second purpose of respite care is as an experimental stay for people considering a move to a senior living community but are uncertain if the decision is right for them. An additional, unorthodox-but-viable purpose of respite care is to provide a temporary residence in warmer areas of the country for seniors looking to escape the harsher winter months.

  • On the opposite end of respite-based 55+ options are independent living communities. These communities are for seniors capable of living independently without 24-7 medical or physical assistance. Many seniors in these communities are not yet retired and still driving their own vehicles. For retired seniors these types of senior living options offer a neighborhood inhabited by people of similar ages, mindsets and lifestyles.

  • There are apartment complexes designed for senior living. Some complexes are built for low-income seniors and offer affordable rent through local or government financial assistance. There are also cooperative housing apartments for seniors where each residence is a co-owner and jointly responsible for upkeep and decisions about the complex. Whether cooperative or specifically for low-income seniors, both types of senior living communities are generally located near public buses or trains, medical facilities and/or shopping malls.

  • Churches or other religion-based entities also provide options for senior living. Even though they are run by religious organizations, being a member of a specific church is not usually a necessary requirement for becoming a resident thereof. National Church Residences is a trusted source for finding 55+ senior living communities provided by church organizations. The Good Samaritan Society is perhaps the largest organizing helping to find affordable, senior housing communities across the U.S.

Amenities for 55+ Senior Living Communities

The amenities and benefits pursuant to living in a 55+ senior living community are more varied than the types of communities themselves. Each community has its own set of residency requirements and associated perks. Pricing and insurance coverage also varies based on needs, location, community features and more. 

Amenities in a group housing, assisted living facility include medical attention and meals. There are also group activities such as bingo and other games. Musical entertainment is often provided on a weekly basis for residents. Physical therapy and other physical activities are facilitated as needed.

Amenities in senior apartments and cooperative complexes involve medical visits and care. Whether or not a medical staff is provided on-site depends on the nature of the funding and purpose of the complex. Swimming pools are common amenities in senior living apartments and cooperatives, as are locations near parks and public transportation. Often these communities are one-floor buildings to make getting in and out easier. 

Independent living communities have amenities similar to regular communities. These amenities are not for public use, however, and are specifically designated for residents and their guests. For example, swimming pools can be available in each community. Some even include golf courses, country clubs and community activity centers. There are also regulations regarding landscaping, noise limits, parking and more. These are all designed to create the most comfortable, peaceful living environment possible.