What is a 55+ community, and how does it differ from traditional retirement living?

There is much buzz today about 55+ communities, along with active adult communities and specified ‘senior’ apartments. In general, these are certified by legal statute as age-restricted communities. So the question is, what exactly are they, and how do they differ from traditional retirement living?

Senior Independent Living in Kansas City and Topeka

With the aging population of baby boomers, the number of older Americans is growing by leaps and bounds. According to the website, the following statistics are known about this demographic.

How Many Baby Boomers Are There? 

  • When World War II ended and soldiers returned home to the United States, many babies were born. This population explosion, coined the Baby Boom by sociologists, lasted from 1946 to 1964.
  • In 1946, there were 3.4 million recorded births.
  • In 1957, there were 4.3 million babies born, setting a record for the highest number of births ever recorded. 
  • reports that the Baby Boom ended in 1964 with 4,027,490 recorded births. 
  • Today, over 70 million baby boomers live in the US, representing the most significant percentage by age, followed by Millennials. 
  • 52% of the baby boomers are female. 

What are Baby Boomers looking for in their later years?

It is no wonder many Seniors are looking to downsize and move out of larger family homes. These seniors want to avoid home maintenance, taxes, insurance, and other homeowner responsibilities. They may want to travel more and have secure residences to lock and leave for more extended periods of time. Many are ready to downsize and simplify their living conditions. 

The senior living industry has raced to fill the needs of baby boomers who are ready to move but are still active and looking forward to many years of retirement. To appeal to this audience and create what may seem like a new offering, the concept of 55+ communities was developed. In the late 60s, this idea began to take root. The visionaries of senior living saw the massive demographic coming. 

The birth of 55+ communities arrived in places like Sun City, Arizona. 

According to, the development of 55+ communities began in the early 1960s, generating a new era of community living. And with about 80 million Americans reaching 65 by 2050, it’s safe to say that active adult communities are here to stay and will continue to play a significant role in the housing market. As a result, the concept of residential age restrictions took hold. 

The attraction of this lifestyle was the opportunity to stay active in sports activities, hobbies, etc. But the attention to health-related needs was secondary, knowing that younger, healthier, more active seniors were moving in.

But needless to say, those residents moving in would age out in those communities needing vast amounts of healthcare support. It isn’t easy to know the average age of those living in 55+ communities because chronological age has little to do with activity level. 

By observation, it is apparent that many of these new residents are recent retirees that are ready to move to a different climate, and most of them are leaving their communities and away from families. They are in their 60s and are contemplating a vacation-like atmosphere. 

Although this lifestyle works for many, there are some drawbacks.

The need for healthcare becomes a significant issue as residents age. What might be suitable at 55 or 65 may not provide all the services needed as you age. And indeed, the need to move multiple times becomes a burden. 

Jack and Louise left their long-time home and community and moved to Arizona after Jack retired. They lived in Sun City for several years and traveled a great deal. When Louise started having some health issues, they made the decision to move back home and find a residential community that would offer in-house healthcare, but most importantly, they would be close to their family. Finding McCrite Plaza was the perfect solution. They still had the activities that they enjoyed in Arizona and a beautiful apartment with all the amenities they were used to, but, unlike living in Arizona, their family came to visit weekly. Both Jack and Louise were comforted that a full continuum was available and they would never need to move again.

Downsizing and moving multiple times is a serious issue. The job of moving is difficult and time-consuming at any age, but it only becomes more of a challenge as we age. Moving is a key consideration when deciding between a 55+ community and an entire continuum-of-care community. 

The history and reputation of retirement communities may be a mental roadblock.

Many baby boomers resist the traditional retirement concept because they remember the old nursing homes they experienced early on. Perhaps their own parents needed long-term or nursing home care in those years when they looked like hospital wards. 

Those memories of older nursing homes look much different than Sun City or Margaritaville (the 55+ communities Jimmy Buffet is building in Florida today.) But, unfortunately, it is hard to break free from those old images. And the truth is that they still exist in some locations. But new, modern, reimagined communities are available today. And they are not your grandmother’s nursing facilities! 

When making a big decision for Senior Living, think about the future.

Most people don’t like to think about long-term planning because no one thinks they are getting old. In our youth-oriented culture, we live in denial about our age. So, when an individual or couple considers a retirement move, it is essential to think out at least 20 years. The fastest-growing segment of our population is centenarians. Many of us will live an extended lifespan, and a large percentage will need healthcare attention at any moment. 

Shirly and Bob were both widowed and found each other late in life. However, that did not diminish their passion for each other and their love of life. There was much to consider when they decided to get married and move in together. They both owned homes and had big families that lived nearby. But at this point in their lives, both had health issues. They were wonderful resources for each other and made it possible for both to be very independent. They found McCrite Plaza’s Independent Living Community, and the answer appeared. They chose a two-bedroom apartment with a den. Each of them had plenty of room for their together time and also their privacy. They both had many separate activities to enjoy, but they also enjoyed so many things together. Everything was walkable, although they brought their car and still went on outings on their own. But the dining room with Chef prepared meals was a big hit, and Shirley was happy to leave the cooking to someone else! Both families came to visit, and occasionally, they would reserve the private dining room or the McCrite Pub for big joint family dinners. It was the perfect newlywed forever home!”

Why move two or three times to get the help you most likely will need? Moving to McCrite Plaza‘s beautiful Independent Living community guarantees that any advanced care you need will be available in the same community at the right time. All the luxuries that you seek in 55+ communities are built in at McCrite Plaza. And your needs will be met for a lifetime. 

Come for a tour and see for yourself. 55+ is a marketing concept, but McCrite Plaza is an answer for a lifetime of luxury living.

Call us in Briarcliff-Kansas City at (816) 888-7930 or (785) 267-2960 in Topeka and make an appointment to see everything available to make life exciting for your future!

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