Most people envision living out retirement years in a home with a paid off mortgage, or downsizing to buy a smaller home. In fact, close to 80 percent of people 65 and older own their own homes. However, a growing number of retirees are reimagining the traditional retirement model. Renter households over 60 have increased considerably—growing 43 percent over the past decade, outpacing owner households and growing faster than other age groups, according to RentCafe. For those retirees who decide they no longer need the space or the upkeep that comes with a large home, renting makes sense from both a financial and lifestyle perspective.

For retirees who decide to sell their home and move into an active adult or independent-living rental community, there are myriad financial benefits. Mortgage payments, property taxes, and ever-rising homeowners insurance rates are all eliminated, along with the sometimes unpredictable repair expenses that come with a larger home. By selling their home, seniors can use the equity to better manage their retirement financially, freeing up funds for investment, travel and future healthcare expenses.

Moving into a rental home or apartment also means fewer estate headaches. Children often disagree over what do with a parent’s house after their death: one might want to move in, while another may want to sell. And selling the family home can be an emotional and complicated process for heirs. The move to a rental community gives retirees an incentive to downsize, declutter and give away family heirlooms and other cherished possessions now, leaving fewer decisions for children and grandchildren to make later on.

Renting can also be a less costly, more convenient lifestyle, giving retirees the freedom to try out new towns, and move closer to children or grandchildren. With a rental home, all the maintenance chores—from lawn care to raking leaves to exterior painting—are now handled by the property management team. And of course, there are the amenities that many active-adult and independent-living complexes offer—from resort-style clubhouses and swimming pools to fitness centers, walking trails, and a full calendar of social events.

Retirees should think long-term when deciding to rent or own in retirement, and talk with their financial advisor to determine the best strategy. Weighing factors like the impact on retirement savings and spending, investment returns, and home appreciation will help determine the best course of action.

Lloyd Jones Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Chris Finlay, was a featured speaker at the “Outlook on Active Adult from the C-Suite” panel during Senior Housing News’ Active Adult Virtual Summit (July 15, 2020). Here are the key takeaways from his talk:

  • Finlay believes that an all-rental model holds untapped potential for developers and residents. As seniors age in place, with the addition a la carte services as needed and emerging technology, they’ll be able to enjoy an elevated quality of life for longer.
  • The rental model will also meet the growing demand of seniors who want to sell their home and retain equity to better manage their retirement financially.
  • To address this demand, Lloyd Jones offers its Aviva brand of active-adult living. Finlay introduced the three Aviva products.
    • Aviva Cottages are a for-lease cottage product which Finlay envisions will be especially popular with seniors in suburban markets making their initial transitions from single-family homes. These single-story cottages with attached garages will surround a resort-style clubhouse where events and activities abound.
    • Aviva 55 is a three- to four-story building, better suited to urban environments where lot sizes are smaller. This product is similar to a luxury apartment community but available solely to residents at least 55 years of age and will appeal to consumers looking for the lifestyle afforded by these locations.
    • Aviva Independent is a more traditional independent living product, with the first building set to break ground in Port St. Lucie, Florida later this year.
  • Active adult communities tend to be slow to lease-up (about six a month), but once occupancy levels reach stabilization, they tend to remain constant. In order to control operational costs in new construction during lease-up, Aviva Independent Port St. Lucie was designed to include two wings flanked by a central clubhouse, enabling Lloyd Jones to lease up one building while the other is under construction.
  • The industry average for how long seniors stay in an adult active community is five to seven years, but the average stay for residents in Lloyd Jones Senior Living communities is over ten years. Residents form close, lasting friendships, and with the addition of home healthcare services and future technology, they’ll be able to stay even longer.
  • Active adult represents the biggest real estate opportunity that Finlay has seen in his 40-year career, but it is also a challenging sector to enter. It requires correctly identifying the right markets to build active adult, deducing demographic trends for growth, and being ahead of the curve in terms of the services and technology that residents will need in order to comfortably age in place for the next five to ten years.


My dad is a big man. He’s a big, 67-year-old man. And he fell in the shower. Mom called 911.

My parents live in a ubiquitous colonial-style, two-story home.  It’s an old home where they raised my brothers and me. It’s full of nooks and crannies and secret hiding places, but it’s also full of narrow hallways, steep staircases, and upstairs bedrooms.

Navigating the sharp angles and the precipitous staircase was a challenge for the EMTs, but they got Dad to the hospital where he was treated.  He’s now home, temporarily confined to a wheelchair – and the living room.

He can’t go up the stairs to his bedroom, or down to his beloved “man-cave” in the basement.  He’s in the living room where he spends his nights sleeping on a recliner. His wheelchair takes him to the kitchen, but he can’t reach the cupboards where Mom hides the cookies. He can’t even reach the light switches without a struggle. He’s not happy.

Time for a family conference. Is this just the beginning? What if this were not temporary?

It’s hard to imagine because my parents are active and healthy. Mom loves her tennis and lunch with her friends. Dad works out every day, runs half marathons, and enjoys an occasional beer with his buddies. But it’s something to think about.

As people age (and they will), stairs become more difficult to climb, doorknobs become harder to turn, and showers become slippery. Even for the most fit, home and yard maintenance can become overwhelming and even dangerous.

My parents love their home.  It’s full of memories; it’s close to neighbors. They intend to live here forever, to gracefully age in place. But let’s be realistic. Climbing stairs and ladders is not safe as people grow older.

Back to the family conference.  What should we do? Can we renovate the home to make it accessible and safe for the rest of their lives?  Should we encourage Mom and Dad to move to an active-adult senior community?

I ran across an article by Glenn Ruffenach in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How to Decide Whether To Move or Stay in Your House in Retirement.” Perfect. The article addresses the exact issues we are facing – and then some.

Homes can be remodeled and retrofitted, he says. But there’s more to consider than grab bars and first-floor bedrooms.

For instance, the expense.  It can cost tens of thousands of dollars to retrofit your home. Think if that is how you want to spend your retirement money.  He goes on to say that a home retrofitted specifically for senior living may not be attractive to younger families when it comes time to sell the home.

Next, he mentions transportation.  Mom and Dad live in the country, in a small town. They drive everywhere, to doctors’ appointments, to restaurants and shopping, to see friends. According to Mr. Ruffenach, the AAA has indicated that seniors are outliving their ability to drive safely by seven to ten years. At some point, that might apply to my parents.  And frankly, I hope they do live that long, even without a driver’s license. But they could no longer live independently.

Thirdly, he mentions socialization. I read frequently about how important this is in seniors’ lives. In fact, isolation is a leading factor in the mortality rate. My parents are very social. They have lots of friends, and my brothers and I visit often. But what if they can’t drive to see their friends?

An active adult community would offer all the socialization and activities they could possibly want, albeit with new friends.  Either way, I suspect they will always remain socially active.

Finally, he hesitatingly mentions spouse and family. If one spouse dies, would the surviving spouse be better off in the current home or a senior community?  He warns that this is a very important decision to make sooner, rather than later. Whether you choose to renovate your home or to move, he says, make the decision while it’s still your decision to make.  If you fail to act while you are mentally and physically strong,  someone else will make the decision for you.

As much as my parents love my brothers and me, I know they want to be independent and make this decision themselves.  They probably have lots of time, but the 911 call scared me.

-The Oldest Daughter

You know the collection of bobble-heads you bought on a trip to Coney Island? How about that darling doll with only one arm you loved as a child? Tupperware containers with missing lids? All those thread-bare dish towels? Your mother’s cookbooks? Coffee makers, your collection of Johnny Mathis records?

Do your kids –and yourself -a favor. Clean out your attic, your cupboards, and your closets. Don’t leave that burden to your kids.

As we age, our homes become too big, too much work, and often unsafe. At some point we will have to move, sometimes willingly, sometimes not. More and more seniors are being proactive, choosing to downsize to an active adult community while they can still enjoy the new lifestyle. A new lifestyle without shoveling snow, cleaning gutters, climbing ladders, or even climbing stairs.Maybe even a lifestyle with dining and housekeeping.

It could be a wonderful opportunity. But getting there from here can be a daunting task. And even more daunting would be an emergency that precipitated a quick move.

When downsizing, it seems we have three choices: fight it until it’s absolutely necessary and become overwhelmed with the prospect; do nothing and saddle our children with hard decisions and the burden; or the wisest, start early and plan for an exciting new lifestyle.

But this requires discipline. You have to start today, not“when you have time” or “someday.” You can start small. If you buy a new toaster, dump the old one. Break the handle off a cup? Throw it out; don’t save it hoping to get around to gluing it. Then tackle that collection of telephone books; old, dried paint cans; broken furniture you had hoped to refinish.

In the meantime,

First, call your kids. Do they have any interest in your grandmother’s crystal? Or your collection of bobble-heads? Give them an opportunity to label items for future reference (or to take now). You might be surprised at what is important to them –and what is not. Even your most sentimental child may not want anything to do with your wedding silver if it has to be polished.

Clean out drawers, file cabinets. Throw away anything that you don’t absolutely need: a property appraisal when you bought your house 20 years ago; tax returns of 1950. Do you really need that yellowed letterhead from the previous address? How many outdated dresses are in your closet “just in case” an occasion arises?

Talk to an estate-sale expert. What do you do with your furniture and collectibles? These people can be a great help and comfort in your decision making, especially with china, silver, and crystal. They can arrange off-and on-site estate sales and offer you professional, objective advice.

Plan a yard sale or call your friends to thin out your furniture. Your furniture will sell for pennies on the dollar if you have to give it to a consignment shop. So, try to sell it first. Look around your home. If you could move only a few pieces, which would they be? Chances are, even in a luxury senior community, your home will not be as large as the one in which you raised your family. You don’t have to sell everything now and live at your kitchen table; just be prepared.

One day, most of us will have to make a decision about where we will spend the rest of our lives. Chances are it will not be in the big family homestead. So be proactive. Be prepared. Do yourself –and your kids -a favor so when the opportunity/necessity arises, your move can be (relatively) stress-free.

When considering whether someone can live at home alone, it is important to recognize the signs that may lead to unsafe conditions or poor quality of life.  One reference is “activities of daily living.”
According to the National Institute of Health, “the activities of daily living (ADLs) is a term used to collectively describe fundamental skills that are required to independently care for oneself. “  The inability to perform various ADLs results in the dependence on others, which often means an assisted living community or home health care.

If a loved one struggles with any of the ADLs, it may be time to consider a move to a safe environment that offers assistance. Such a suggestion is often met with resistance initially, but in most cases, the ultimate response is “I wish I had done this earlier.”  In addition to assisting with ADLs, senior communities offer the socialization often missing when one lives alone. Residents become family and enjoy all the benefits of a close, caring community with plenty of activities to encourage physical and mental well-being.
The NIH lists the following categories as basic ADLs.

  1. Ambulating: The extent of an individual’s ability to move from one position to another and walk independently.
  2. Feeding: The ability of a person to feed oneself.
  3. Dressing: The ability to select appropriate clothes and to put the clothes on.
  4. Personal hygiene: The ability to bathe and groom oneself and to maintaining dental hygiene, nail and hair care.
  5. Continence: The ability to control bladder and bowel function
  6. Toileting: The ability to get to and from the toilet, using it appropriately, and cleaning oneself.

With assistance as needed within these categories, senior housing residents find they can participate in  a fulfilling, active lifestyle among friends, despite their limitations.
What does this mean in real life?

  • Do your loved ones have any unexplained bruising? Are they bumping into things, or falling? Can they move easily around the house and out to the mailbox?
  • How are they eating? What are they eating? Is the refrigerator stocked with nutritious foods?
  • What are they wearing? Do they bother to get dressed during the day?  Are their clothes inside out or backward? Are their clothes clean?
  • Do they bathe regularly? Is there a grab bar or something to hold on to in the shower?  Check their nails. Do they need cutting? Do they go to a dentist on a regular basis for cleaning?
  • And what about their home? Is it tidy like it used to be, or has it become dirty or unsafe with cluttered pathways?
  • Beyond ADLs, there are other signs you should be looking for:
  • Are they paying their bills on time?
  • Do they always turn off appliances, like frying pans and toasters – and of course the cooktop?
  • Are they staying in touch with friends and family?
  • Medications: Are they taking the on time? Most seniors take several medications. Do they have a system of organizing them to be sure they are taking them appropriately?
  • And finally, do they maintain their interest in hobbies, social activities, and friends?

These are all signs that your loved one may be undergoing some physical and mental changes. It’s time to pay attention.  Perhaps it’s time to talk about a move to an assisted living community.

“It’s not really about aging; it’s about living.”  I love this quote from Jo Ann Jenkins, CEO of AARP.  But I would go a step further:  It’s about aging well.
How do we age well?  How do we help our loved ones age well?  How do we maximize their quality of life?

As we age, we start losing not only friends but also our independence; we start having more aches and pains. It starts at about age 60. (I know from personal experience.)  On the golf course or tennis courts, the conversation inevitably turns to knee surgery, cataracts, and “what’s the score?”
I remember my in-laws. As they aged, their calendars no longer contained parties and outings; it was full of doctors’ appointments.  And then came the loss of a driver’s license. That was really tough.
But in my opinion, they still maintained a good quality of life.
But what defines “quality of life”?
To help with this blog, I began to research “quality of life.”  I found myself in a fifteen-page scientific dissertation on the subject. After painstaking documentation, including 59 references, it concluded that there is no consensus of the definition.  This was confirmed by two other sources.
So, I turned to our in-house experts at Lloyd Jones Senior Living. These industry veterans have been intimately involved in assisted living for the past thirty years. They offer five points to help improve the quality of life (whatever the definition) of our seniors whether at home or in a senior living community.

  1. Remind Seniors that they are appreciated, valued, and needed. And show them. Ask for their help: folding laundry, cooking meals, clipping coupons. And ask for their advice. Let them know they are not irrelevant; they have a lifetime of valued experience to share.
  2. Encourage physical activity. This is critical. The benefits of physical activity are well documented. If your loved one is at home, go on a walk; go shopping. Do anything to encourage activity. At our senior communities, we provide numerous activities to enhance cardiovascular health – the highest risk – as well as to improve balance and flexibility to better avoid falls.
  3. Encourage mental activity. Engage in conversation, puzzles, games. Ask for advice that requires some thought. Suggest a bridge group or book club. Drive them there if necessary. A senior living community typically offers such activities to keep residents mentally (and socially) engaged.
  4. Keep them connected. Lack of socialization increases mortality by a significant percentage. (I’ve read up to 60%.)  Stay in touch. Listen to your loved ones. Let them talk. Include them on family outings. Teach them how to video chat and text; how to use social media.  Socialization is one of the primary advantages of living in a senior community. Residents become family. They have fun together, and they look out for one another. These bonds form the cornerstone of their quality of life.
  5. Monitor and treat depression. Depression can be caused by the loss of a spouse, or moving from the family home, or being on the wrong medications. Be aware, and get them professional treatment.

So, it’s not really about aging; it’s about living. It’s about living well.  It’s about maintaining a physically and mentally active lifestyle as long as possible.  And we can all help our loved ones throughout the process.

Lloyd Jones Senior Living