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Understanding the 3 common types of retirement communities

There may come a point in life when you or a loved one need a higher level of care than that which can be provided at home.

When you start researching your options, you’ll find that there are many different types of communities designed to meet the needs of older adults. At their core, all of these retirement communities serve a similar purpose - providing seniors with a safe and secure living environment - but they do have some important differences.

In this article, we’ll give you an overview of the three most common types of retirement communities and share some tips to help you decide which living option is right for you. 

Independent living

As the name implies, independent living communities are primarily for healthy, active and self-sufficient retirees who do not require special medical care or assistance with the activities of daily living. These communities typically consist of apartments, condos or small homes - ideal for older adults that wish to downsize to a more manageable square footage.

The key advantage of independent living communities is the maintenance-free lifestyle. Most communities will handle the property maintenance and landscaping on your behalf, giving you the freedom to enjoy retirement to the fullest. And, when you’re surrounded by like-minded people at a similar stage of life, it’s easy to socialise and make meaningful connections. Some independent living communities even provide resort-style amenities such as swimming pools, gymnasiums, beauty spas, libraries, gardens and cafes for residents to enjoy. 

Assisted living

Assisted living communities are for older adults who are generally in good health and wish to maintain a high level of independence, but require some assistance with daily life activities, such as getting dressed, bathing and medication management. Some assisted living facilities provide additional optional services such as meal preparation, transportation and domestic chores. Limited healthcare services may be available, but it’s important to keep in mind that assisted living communities generally don’t offer comprehensive medical care.

Assisted living housing typically consists of private or shared apartments, where residents have their own personal living space, including a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. Assisted living facilities usually feature some communal areas, as well as organised social events that residents can participate in if they wish. 

Residential care facilities

Residential care facilities, sometimes referred to as nursing homes, are geared towards seniors with higher care needs. These types of facilities provide a broader range of medical services than other retirement communities, and are usually staffed round the clock by experienced registered nurses. Residents may be capable of doing some daily tasks independently, but are more likely to need some support with personal care activities like showering, dressing and moving around.

Because residential care facilities often offer hospital-level care, the living environment can look a little more institutional than other types of retirement communities. Nursing home residents usually live in private or shared rooms, with an attached ensuite bathroom. Common areas are usually available for residents to share meals, take part in group activities and socialise.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for a government subsidy to help pay for the cost of residential care. Asset, income, needs and age criteria apply - see this page for more information. 

Which one is right for you?

Everyone’s needs are different, which means there’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a retirement community. For most people, the decision will mostly come down to three key things: health, care requirements and lifestyle.

Take a moment to think about your current situation. Are you healthy? Do you feel confident dealing with the demands of daily life?

If you’re in the early stages of retirement and are in generally good shape, an independent living community (such as a retirement village) may be a great option. On the other hand, if you need some extra support with your daily activities, you may want to look into assisted living. Lastly, if you or a loved one require more intensive support and access to more comprehensive healthcare services, a residential care facility may be the best fit. 

Find out more about our retirement villages

Here at Generus, we’re proud to offer a broad range of high quality retirement communities throughout New Zealand.

To learn more about our retirement communities, call us today on (03) 961 9820 or fill out our online enquiry form and a member of the team will be in touch with you shortly.

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