Luxury senior living: the top 6 features to look for in a CCRC

Retirement and good living: For many older adults, the two are practically synonymous.

But good living means something different to everyone, whether that’s hitting the golf course regularly, picking up some new hobbies, moving to your favorite destination spot or spending more time with loved ones. 

Chances are, you’ve got dreams about how to spend the next phase of your retirement — and you’ve also given some thought to what amenities mean the most to you as you consider your next move. What’s on your list?

Today, many senior living communities are dedicated to helping older adults find happiness in retirement through resort-style amenities, beautiful surroundings, lifestyle programming, recreation and more. Let’s take a look at some of the Life Plan Community features and amenities seniors are looking for most often as they consider their next move. 

1. High-End Design

They say looks aren’t everything — but in the world of luxury senior living, looks are definitely something!

To that end, seniors considering high-end Life Plan Communities are often seeking opportunities to customize their individual apartments or villas. And to cater to this demand, many communities employ in-house design consultants who can assist new residents in those customizations, from floor-plan consultations to choosing paint colors, countertops, cabinet fixtures and more.

Gorgeous common areas that are ripe for socialization are important, too, and that means a community can’t rest on its design laurels for too long. 

Today’s seniors are seeking dynamic and beautiful places to live out the next phase of their retirement, so the best communities deliver regular design updates, from modern furnishings and design touches to common areas filled with comforts and amenities. 

Tip: When you start visiting senior living communities, ask about what personalization options are available to apartments and villas, as well as what updates are planned for the spaces you will share with your future neighbors.

2. Room to Move Around

Whether you’re lacing up your walking shoes to explore your community’s walking paths, meeting friends for a game of Bridge or Mahjong in the game room or lounging by the resort-style pool, luxury senior living today means having some space outside of your own door to make yourself at home. 

Today’s Life Plan Communities are being designed to offer common spaces that feel like an extension of residents’ personal living spaces. After all, “downsizing” feels less like downsizing when there’s a library and cozy reading space just downstairs, a billiards room just a short walk down the hall, and a stocked art studio or theater-style movie room nearby.

“So many seniors today have huge TVs, projectors and surround sound, even theater-style seats in their homes,” said Sian Moynihan, director of sales of Vi at The Glen. “It’s something they’d miss if they left their home — and nothing about a move to senior living should feel like a step back.”

And, of course, “room to move” doesn’t stop at the gates of the community. Easy valet parking and access to regularly scheduled transportation mean residents can come and go as they please. 

Tip: During your tour, don’t neglect to explore the grounds and the community spaces. Walk the pathways outside, peruse the library collection and even stop by the movie theater to see the coming attractions.

3. Amazing Food

After a lifetime of travel, exploration and experiencing numerous cultures, many of today’s senior-living residents are foodies and flavor seekers who expect their communities to be able to accommodate those tastes when it comes to cuisine. So, for Life Plan Communities, staying in tune with residents’ culinary preferences is a top priority.

In luxury senior living communities, chefs and their kitchen teams are empowered to create menus that resonate with today’s seniors — from grab-and-go wraps and smoothies to five-course formal meals. The same food trends of high-end restaurants are also reflected on their menus. As an example, since food is so inextricably tied to socialization, more and more bar menus in Life Plan Communities are adding small plates that feature lighter bites: Think charcuterie platters, flatbreads, appetizer samplers.

“It’s all about choice,” said Mark Southern, Vi’s AVP of Food & Beverage. “Senior living residents want that full restaurant experience, to have the option to grab something quick at the bar with their friends — like a happy hour before a night on the town.”

It’s also all about variety in luxury communities. Menus are always evolving but also rotating, from summer-friendly dishes with ingredients straight off the vine to winter favorites featuring local produce. Seasonal and fresh is the order of the day, every day.

Tip: Grab a bite to eat at more than one of the community’s restaurants during your tours. And see if you can take a look at past menus to ensure the kitchen is cooking up something delicious no matter the season.

4. Whole-Person Wellness

With the Baby Boomer generation aging into retirement at a record pace, senior living communities are prepared to meet their needs with programming that embodies their go-getter spirit and pursuit of holistic wellness. “Today’s Boomers are so much more aware of the importance of cognitive, physical, spiritual wellness,” Moynihan said.

Luxury retirement communities are doubling down on physical wellness amenities, from state-of-the-art fitness equipment to full-time fitness coordinators, personal trainers. But some even go beyond standard fitness to ensure they have instructors who specialize in functional fitness, Pilates, yoga, meditation, Tai chi and more.

In addition to the body, the lifestyle programming offered at many senior living communities gives its residents the opportunity to exercise the mind, to discover new interests and passions, to use new technologies and employ them to stay connected to friends and family outside the community. From lectures and presentations at home to classes offered at nearby universities, Life Plan Communities have expanded programming to allow residents to keep learning well into their later years. 

Tip: Check out the community’s activity calendar before your tour so you have a chance to participate. Bring your  workout gear and join a class or plan the tour around a popular lecture or event.

5. Resort-like Amenities

Today’s Life Plan Communities feel more like resorts than senior communities — and that’s by design. Many older adults, by the time they move into one of these communities, are already accustomed to the perks of retirement living — and expect to continue enjoying life on their terms.

That means a community that offers amenities you might find at a high-end hotel or country club: indoor and outdoor pools, tennis and bocce courts, on-site salons and spas. And for seniors who have come to enjoy golf as part of their everyday lives, many communities have their own 18-hole courses, male and female leagues and clubs, shops, pros and high-tech golf simulators.

Tip: Make a list of the nice-to-haves and the must-haves when it comes to luxury amenities and it can help guide your search as you explore senior living retirement options.

These luxury amenities are a huge selling point for Life Plan Communities, a cherry on top of their marquee offering: a care plan for the future.

6. A Plan for the Future

Finally, priority access to more advanced care — from assisted living and skilled nursing to memory support, should you need it — may not be an amenity that gets top billing in a glossy brochure. Nevertheless, care is one of the hallmarks of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (another word for Life Plan Communities).

Life Plan Communities are designed to allow seniors the freedom to live life on their terms and offer a plan for future care if they need it. When it comes to future care, empowerment and choice are one of the most powerful amenities of all. 

“Boomers are independent spirits, and they want to keep calling the shots,” Moynihan said. “A Life Plan Community offers them freedom of choice.”

Learn more about Vi’s 10 communities throughout the United States.