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Different Types of Active Senior Communities

by Carolyn Wilson-Scott

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After years of working or raising a family, you've finally reached retirement or gotten all your kids established. You're fortunate enough to be in good health; you're ready to get the most out of your golden years! Active senior communities are a great fit for those who are able to keep up with their day-to-day activities and are looking for a social outlet or occasional help.

Independent Living

A variety of types of Independent Living active senior communities exist, from senior-only apartment complexes to senior communities set up like country clubs. Seniors who choose independent living are typically looking for a setting with ready-made peer groups, reduced home and yard upkeep, and an enhanced sense of security. Costs vary based on factors like location and amenities, but expect to pay close to local market rates for the type of housing you select, i.e. senior-only complexes should run about the same as similar non-senior apartments in your area, and a unit in a retirement community will likely be priced on par with other luxury options where you live.

Adult Day Programs

Some focus on medical or therapeutic needs, but many are geared toward more active senior communities, with a wide range of social programs. These vary from center to center, but may include volunteer work, games, music, cultural outings, and exercise offerings. Most adult day programs are open Monday through Friday during business hours, and the average daily cost in 2009 was about $50. Check with your local center; some accept payment on a sliding scale, and some may offer the ability to come for half-days or only a few days a week.

The Beacon Hill Village Model

Founded in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston in 2001, this active senior community program was designed to let seniors "age in place." The idea is to bring services to seniors in their homes, instead of the other way around. The program received national attention, and has spread to 17 other states. Services provided vary by program, but might include exercise and cultural programs, area discounts, concierge services, and volunteers for bigger household projects like painting. Beacon Hill Village charges $600 a year for an individual membership; $800 for a household.

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Community Groups

Many local libraries and museums host programs for seniors. Some areas also feature historical societies and walking groups, which can be great places to meet those with similar interests. You might also consider volunteering. Places like schools, shelters, and even nursing homes usually welcome any help they can get. And if your area doesn't have the type of active senior community that you're looking for, why not start one yourself!