Retirement communities evolve with aging population

Retirement communities have changed a lot in the last 10-plus years. Rather than simply providing a place where seniors can live and maintain their health after leaving the workforce, today they provide an active and engaging community that allows older adults to pursue a healthy lifestyle for seniors while building strong social bonds with one another. As attitudes toward the aging population continue to evolve, the communities are changing along with them, according to U.S. News and World Report. 

The programs offered at retirement communities vary from place to place, but experts say some of the most important aspects are geared toward getting senior residents engaged in the community. Whether it is through volunteer opportunities or chances for continuing education, the key is to encourage seniors to remain engaged throughout their golden years.

"We want to try to engage people with more active things," industry insider Dan Taylor told the publication. "People are more open to things that aren't simply late-life or end-of-life things."

Of course, a thriving social life is not the only thing that prospective retirement community residents should expect when they're considering the move. A 2009 study from AARP and the National Association of Home Builders sought to learn exactly what older adults look for when relocating after retirement, and many are expecting to downsize. In addition to focusing on the size of their home, there is a greater emphasis among seniors on features like walk-in showers, wider doorways and other senior-friendly designs, The Chicago Tribune reports. 

Retirement communities also offer amenities that are key to healthy aging, such as on-site medical care offered by board-certified doctors along with healthy living amenities including fitness centers.