Group of seniors taking a selfie while playing cards

How Is Independent Living Different from 55+ Communities?

Gazing at the bright horizon known as the retirement years, you’re probably thinking about how best to take advantage of this new opportunity. There’s so much to do and now, with kids grown and careers winding down, you have the freedom to do it. As you consider the possibilities, you may wonder if the carefree lifestyle in a community that caters to older adults would support your retirement dreams. The answer is yes. A brief look at two options — 55+ communities and independent living in a Life Plan Community — will help you determine which is right for you.

What Is a 55+ Community?

Also known as an active adult community, 55+ communities are created for adults over age 55 who are seeking a low-maintenance home in a community of similarly aged adults. Most of these communities are age-restricted, requiring that 80% of residences have at least one person over age 55. Other communities are age-targeted, which means their marketing efforts are geared toward people 55 or older, but there are no age restrictions. Depending on the community, you may rent or own, and housing options may include apartments, townhomes, condominiums, or single-family homes.

What Is Independent Living?

Like a 55+ community, independent living in a Life Plan Community (also known as a Continuing Care Retirement Community or CCRC) is designed for active older adults who want a maintenance-free lifestyle that gives them more time to do what they love. The minimum age requirement may vary, but is typically set at 65. With a variety of floor plans, from apartments to villas, you can find the residence that suits your style and needs.

The Advantages Are Similar

There are many good reasons to choose the carefree, active lifestyle you’ll find in both 55+ and independent living communities. In each community, you can enjoy perks such as:

  • Life-enriching services and amenities. Features such as a pool, fitness center, dining venues, and a putting green invite an active daily life, while groundskeeping and home maintenance services ensure you have plenty of time to do more of what you love.
  • A lively social life. Neighbors of a similar age become golfing and hiking buddies, dinner companions, or book club friends. Common areas, like a dog park and clubhouse, encourage social connection.
  • Flexibility. You set the pace, enjoying the amenities and activities that interest you, plus have the freedom of a lock-and-leave lifestyle, as you travel with the assurance that your home is secure while you’re away.
  • A rightsized life. Moving gives you the opportunity to align your home with your retirement goals, decluttering to make room for the lifestyle you want.

Independent Living Offers More

Both 55+ communities and independent living offer a rich and rewarding lifestyle now, but only independent living in a Life Plan Community provides peace of mind about the future. In a Life Plan Community, a continuum of care — which may include assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation — ensures that, should your health change, you can receive the support you need on the same campus where you feel at home. Most 55+ communities, on the other hand, don’t offer long-term care options on the same campus, so if you have a health setback, you may need to hire in-home care or undertake a disruptive move during a health crisis. And if you and your spouse need different levels of care, you’ll likely find yourselves in different communities.

Long-term care can be expensive. In 2022, the national monthly median cost of an assisted living community was $4,635, while a private room in skilled nursing was $9,305 per month. But a Life Plan Communities that offers a LifeCare® contract provides financial advantages that can help protect your retirement assets. With LifeCare, you can transition to the level of care you need at a cost that won’t be significantly higher than your monthly fee for independent living. Given the skyrocketing cost of health services, that can lead to substantial savings.

A Beautiful Today and a Secure Tomorrow at Sagewood

At Sagewood, you’ll discover all the benefits of independent living in a Life Plan Community set amid the breathtaking beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Here, an active lifestyle is enriched by an array of services and amenities, and the peace of mind of knowing that quality long-term care is available should the need arise. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of LifeCare or to schedule a visit.