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Okay this is where I  throwback on the force that is the advertising tsunami  for the  standard retirement community and hopefully explain what the difference is between the a 55+ plus community , independent living , assisted living and a CCRC Continuing Care Retirement Community . Softer lifestyle is a  relative term.

The term  55 plus community has aged out a bit on its own and is now more often referred to as  active adult  community. This can vary from being  age restricted and with  lots of rules regarding  what is on the exterior of your home and  visitors.   This category includes  smaller patio style, carriage style   homes, condos and  townhouses. They can have   24 hour a day  on call maintenance , usually  have a  secure entrance ie a gated community.

One of the main selling points is you can lock and leave your place secure that all will be well when you return from your travels.  One of the main selling pitches is that you leave maintenance behind so you can do the things you want like travel.  

Others are in  developments where  housing ownership and maintenance is totally up to the independent home owner but there are advantages of social activities. I hope in our Forums to invite discussion of the pros and the cons of all of the different choices for  seniors.

Independent Living  These are also  residential communities comprised of  apartments, condos and maybe small garden style homes  with  social programs transportation services , organized outings. They also empathize the hassle free – more leisure time.  Besides home maintenance there are other  layers of  handicapped awareness re  emergency pull cords may include option to buy into meals and housekeeping services.  Costs for independent  living communities  can average from  $1500 to $3500 a month.   But you are on your own for paying for  your medical care  ( expect maybe transportation help to get to your doctor appointments)

Continuing Care Retirement Community CCRC     They are now trying to  sell CRCCs  as an aging in place solution.  The idea is to enter  while you are still healthy and active .  You sign a contract or resident agreement and in some cases hand over your major assets. Costs  now stand about  $4000 to $6000 a monthly basis . Their  aging in place is  moving  from one location ie from one building or floor to the other with that next  step always visible to you right down to the 24/7 skilled nursing care . There is a hierarchy and you know it as in we don’t  allow the residents from the third floor allowed to eat in the main  dinning room (no wheelchairs/ walkers allowed!). When spouses are on different levels it can be problematic.  It is the package deal for the end of your life.  Security means different things to different people. If you have the assets to buy in, talking to some  who has chosen this option might be better than the whirlwind  tours with sales pressure and the nice buffet.

An updated note  ..some CCRC’s allow residents  children to live (but pay separately) in the same community.  This is a very unique solution for one  man. http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/05/health/a-twist-on-caring-for-a-parent-move-into-the-home.html?action=click&contentCollection=health&module=NextInCollection&region=Footer&pgtype=article&version=column&rref=collection%2Fcolumn%2Fthe-new-old-age

Assisted living:  This  is kind of out of order here .  It  usually the mid point tin  CCRC  between independent home and   skilled nursing  You are visited every day by staff  and  monitored for deterioration of  your physical and mental capacities.  No locks on your  door  but you are in you own  apartment and  there is help with major daily  activities: meals bathing,  housekeeping and dressing with the option to do some things for your self.

Important note:  if you did not buy long term care insurance in your late 50’s, you probably can not afford it now.  This is where if you meet certain criteria of not being able to care for yourself on several different t levels,  your plan will pay out for above care.  This is  different from  buying in at a later date into  a Continuing Care Retirement Community.