There are plenty of options when it comes to senior living. From independent communities with luxury-style amenities and non-stop social calendars to skilled nursing facilities providing the highest level of care, older adults can find exactly what they need.

But where to start? Read on to learn more about the different types of senior housing communities:

Age-Restricted Communities

Age-restricted communities, also known as 55+ communities or active adult neighborhoods, are residential communities legally restricting occupancy by persons of a certain age. These communities offer a choice of single-family homes, townhomes, cluster homes and manufactured housing. Residents may own or rent. 

These communities are usually more than a residential neighborhood; they have on-site amenities like golf courses and clubs for social gatherings. They encourage social activities and provide security for seniors. They are designed with the philosophy of aging-in-place in mind.

The laws of the United States prohibit discrimination in housing based on family status, including age. However, communities that restrict occupancy by persons of a certain age are exempt from this law because of the federal Housing for Older Persons Act. These communities can be gated. They often offer reduced county property taxes and waivers of school impact fees. They also usually have large community rooms and groups that help with shopping, transportation and home maintenance.

Independent Living

It's easy to equate independent living with senior apartments, but the two types differ. While both senior housing options usually offer organized activities and meal services, independent living is geared toward seniors who can live independently without hands-on care.

Independent living communities often house apartment homes or villas in a shared community setting, with access to on-site amenities like salons, restaurants and outdoor areas with walking paths and gazebos. These communities may also offer transportation services to help you get around and to doctor's appointments.

Independent living is one of the broader categories of senior housing communities. It can also be found within continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs), which offer a range of care levels, including assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing facilities. Many CCRCs require an upfront membership fee or buy-in. Still, they're a great option for seniors who want to enjoy community living and various senior lifestyle benefits, including planned social events and travel opportunities.

Assisted Living

Many seniors find that maintaining their own homes is not an option anymore. The upkeep may become too much, or they need help with transportation issues or the ability to get to doctor's appointments.

Assisted living is a great option for seniors who require assistance with daily activities but do not require 24-hour medical care available in nursing homes. This living arrangement offers a secure and comfortable environment, complete with meals. Visit to see more options for assisted living of your choice.

If you decide to tour a senior community, visit at different times—especially during activities and meal time. You'll want to see how the staff interacts with residents. It's also important to note how quickly staff members respond if someone needs help. The more you can see how the community works, the better understanding you will have of whether it's right for your loved one. Using our community locator tool, you can easily explore qualified independent and assisted living communities in your area.

Memory Care

Memory care is a special type of senior living community that provides round-the-clock care for seniors with Alzheimer's and dementia. Memory care programs are designed to help residents work on their cognitive abilities while enjoying passions and hobbies that they can still do.

Assisted living and memory care are often part of comprehensive or continuing care retirement communities. These retirement communities have a range of care levels and offer services for conditions like diabetes or arthritis.

Other specialized retirement communities include artist retirement homes (sometimes called senior arts colonies), golfing or fitness-focused retirement communities, and LGBTQ+ retirement communities. These retirement communities have their perks, such as a carefree lifestyle and the opportunity to live amongst peers with common interests and experiences. They also typically have homeowners association or membership community fees, which go toward yearly costs for maintaining common spaces and activities.