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Active Adult Communities, Active Senior Housing

Thanks to advances in medicine and technology, as well as healthier lifestyles, many seniors are not only able to live independently, they are able to enjoy activities such as tennis, hiking, boating, swimming, bicycling, golf, paddle tennis, walking paths, etc.

With this in mind, developers of active adult communities have created a wide array of active senior housing types that often include the perfect setting for activities such as those described above.

Property Type Overview for Active Adult Communities:

In anticipation of the first baby boomers reaching 65 in 2011, active adult communities is taking on new dimensions to accommodate the "never-grow-old" generation.

Independent living options in active adult communities include single-family homes, town homes, cluster homes, and multi-family senior apartment / independent living units. While studies show that approximately 90 percent of today's seniors prefer staying in their own homes, these residential communities hold appeal for many. Some offer resort-like amenities and all offer the security and comfort of community, a community developed with their needs and interests in mind.

Physical description:

Senior residential communities are typically located in well maintained park-like settings. Grounds maintenance is typically provided and included in the homeowner's association fees. The houses are usually (and should be) designed with safety and convenience in mind: homes are often single story ranch style and include features such as slide-out cabinets and built-in appliances, lower toilets and bathtubs and walk in showers.

Many of the younger seniors are interested in single family homes with larger rooms that can be used for a home office and exercise room. Home designs also include larger bathrooms that provide for wheelchair access, wider doors, upgraded lighting and security systems.

Because many of today's active seniors are not retiring from work (although career changes are frequent), leisure and active adult communities are often located within easy commutes from urban centers.

Let's take a look at the three major types of active senior housing and their physical attributes...

Leisure Communities
As the name implies, these luxury upscale communities are designed for those who enjoy gracious living with the amenities one would find in a resort: including fitness centers, spas, swimming pools tennis courts and golf courses. These communities typically offer a wide variety of recreational activities including fitness, aerobics, aquatics and water aerobics, tai chi, yoga classes and table tennis, billiards and card games. Activities geared towards intellectual stimulation often include classes, seminars and various cultural activities.

The homes found in leisure communities are generally single story homes with two to three bedrooms and amenities such as slide-out cabinet shelves that make contents more convenient in a way that one of any age would appreciate.

Since leisure communities also sell homes to families, they often feature larger houses with fenced back yards. Leisure communities for the most part attract more seniors than families.

Age-Restricted, Active Senior Communities
Active senior communities are generally age-restricted. These communities are designed for seniors who want to live in a community of their peers.

Guidelines determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allow for age based restrictions, where normally age cannot be used to restrict residents.

Housing and Urban Development Federal Fair Housing Act senior housing regulations (Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995) require that 100% of the occupants must be 62 years of age or older or 80% of the occupied units must be occupied by at least one person who is 55 or older.

Many active adult communities have additional restrictions which stipulate that no one under age 19 can reside permanently in the community. Most communities allow people under the minimum age to visit but not reside permanently.

While a quiet neighborhood is often a priority, this does not mean that these seniors are ready to retire from life. Age-restricted communities often include golf courses, swimming pools, bicycle paths, fitness and recreational centers, walking paths and more.

Age-Targeted, Active Adult Communities
While these communities do not have rules regulating age groups, age-target communities are marketed to people 50 years and older. As with leisure communities and age-restricted communities, these too offer attractive grounds with facilities and amenities designed for active seniors.

Typical Activities Found in Active Adult Communities:

All three types of these communities depending on the size provide a wide variety of recreational and sports amenities including:
  • swimming pool

  • fitness facilities

  • garden areas

  • walking paths with sitting areas

  • recreational centers with activities and game rooms

  • tennis courts and golf courses (in larger communities)

  • beauty salon and barber shop

  • laundry and dry cleaning services

Daily activities programs often include
  • fitness classes

  • swimming and water aerobics

  • art and crafts courses

  • cooking classes

  • billiards and cards activities

  • educational enrichment activities

  • community get-togethers and parties

  • day trips and tours

  • hiking and biking expeditions

  • musical activities such as choirs, barbershop quartets, dance classes.

Health Care / Medical services provided to Residents:

Health-related services beyond those that may be part of a learning center curriculum or senior seminar are generally not provided, and residents will need to make their own off-site health care arrangements. However, the active lifestyle promoted and the sense of community often found in these active senior communities can be truly health enhancing.Long Term Care Insurance:

Residence within an active adult community such as a leisure community, age-restricted community, or age-targeted community is completely voluntary and not covered by any type of medical or health insurance plan.

Active adult communities are designed for seniors that can live independently and are therefore not designed to be providers of personal, health and long term care services.