Tips on Finding the Right Community for Retirement
By Randy Berman ~
The Baby Boomers of today are retiring in record numbers and as active as they are, many are challenging a number of popular stereotypes about retirement and aging. And in today’s environment, picking the right community can mean all the difference in enjoying the lifestyle one seeks.
According to the latest US Census, by 2034 nearly a quarter of the US population will be over the age of 65, and many are seeing the benefits of their activity and their social network reflected in their health. The desire to be more active as they age is also driving many changes in what Boomers look for when choosing communities to live in once they retire, and the menu of amenities that many of those communities offer is shifting in response.
The experts at myMHcommunity.com, a website featuring listings of manufactured homes and communities focused on providing a desirable and active lifestyle, shares the following tips to help Boomers find communities designed for an active and social lifestyle.
A 2015 published report in the Population Reference Bureau found that adults who participate in regular physical activity were less likely to experience a major disability compared to those who don’t.
- Even with today’s restrictions on group activities, many consider unconventional outdoor sports, such as the increasingly popular pickleball or taking the Zumba class outside, both of which are resident favorites at the ViewPoint Golf Resort community in Mesa, AZ.
- Those looking for something more traditional should ask the community’s property manager if the community offers sports such as tennis, golf or softball. Some even have organized teams and their own fields like the age-qualified Monte Vista Village Resort in Mesa, which recently refurbished their onsite softball field with a new scoreboard, foul poles and safety netting.
While the benefits of an active lifestyle are commonly known, the benefits of strong social connections are also valuable. A study published in PLoS Medicine found that social support or the lack of it, rivals the effect of established health risk factors such as cigarette smoking.
- When searching for a retirement community, look for a range of social activities that will help you stay engaged and that align with your interests.
- Look for ways the community brings residents together. With many protocols put in place in 2020, communities have made adjustments with their social activities. For example, at Emerald Lake in Punta Gorda, FL, a resident worked with the community to host a socially distant concert for neighbors every Friday night at the community Tiki Hut after his regular gig was cancelled due to the local restaurant closures. Interested residents should ask the community how they create opportunities for residents to interact. From community happy hours to holiday parties, many activities will come back to life, so interested residents want to make sure to pick the right home.
- Think outside the box. Many of today’s age qualified communities offer exclusive social activities that provide unique experiences or ones that relate to one’s life pre-retirement, such as EMT groups, charitable efforts, woodworking, silversmithing, jewelry making, and outdoor group adventurers. At the 55+ Mid Florida Lakes community, just northwest of Orlando, residents created their own Emergency Response team. The volunteer team is made up of about 40 residents with their gear and equipment paid for by donations from the community.
Know Your Neighbors
Good neighbors may be good for your health. A recent study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that having good neighbors and feeling connected to others in the local community may help to curb your heart attack risk.
- Before moving in, talk with current community residents to get a feel for the “personality” of the community and how engaged its members are in offerings and activities.
By fully evaluating potential communities, Boomers can go a long way toward finding a community that supports an active and social lifestyle, both now and for years to come. Many of the communities across the country provide the resort lifestyle Boomers are looking for as they retire, and offer these types of active and social opportunities they are seeking.
To find many of these communities and for more information on active-adult communities, visit www.myMHcommunity.com.
I was surprised when you said that feeling connected to neighbors in your community can actually lower your risk for a heart attack. My husband and I have been considering moving to a new neighborhood since our kids have all moved out and we don’t really like how busy our current street is. Maybe I’ll talk to my husband about the idea of moving to an adult community now that you’ve helped me understand how beneficial it could be for us!