There are many senior communities that offer housing for those who need it as well as activities and care services. In this blog post we answer the question; Can a Disabled Person Under 55 Live in a 55+ Community?
If you are disabled and under 55, is it possible to live in a 55+ community? The answer is YES but it is typically determined by community standards.
Can a Disabled Person Under 55 Live in a 55+ Community?
55+ Housing Community Purpose
The 55+ housing community has existed for nearly 50 years. The original ideas behind this concept were based on very simple truths—the average person desires to age in place, and the elderly desire to live amongst their peers.
All across America there are communities designed specifically for these people. One of these was Sun City, Arizona, the first active adult community to be built in the United States.
This idea has become so well known that it is simply called “55+ Communities.” These communities are predominantly senior-oriented where residents must be at least 55 years of age. Although, some do have restrictions that include occupancy by people under 55 years of age who are disabled or the spouse of an elderly person.
Goals of this 55+ Housing Community
The goal of many 55+ communities is to provide a safe, quality environment for adults that enables them to maintain their independence while enjoying all the benefits of living in a supportive community.
The setting encourages residents to be physically active and socially engaged within the community. It is a close-knit neighborhood where friendships are formed and families grow.
The majority of these communities incorporate an active lifestyle with plenty of amenities for fun and entertainment. Activities such as planned clubs, games, events, trips, classes and volunteer opportunities provide the residents with a satisfying sense of purpose and belonging to something greater than themselves.
There is no doubt that the 55+ housing communities have been a tremendous blessing to many people. However, recently there has been an increased interest from people who are under 55 years of age that want to live in these communities.
The Pros of Living in a 55+ Community as an Under 55 Disabled Person
As someone who has chosen this lifestyle, I can tell you that there are many aspects about the 55+ community that I find appealing. Some people do not like to be tied down by owning a home.
Many people, especially the elderly, are very mobile and do not want to be restricted by property maintenance or neighborhood association rules. Also, many 55+ communities have amenities that would be attractive to non-disabled people. For example:
- Private Gated Communities
Gated communities can provide an extra sense of security for individuals living under disability. A lot of these communities are gated to provide privacy, security and also to limit guests who may be undesirable. These gates can give a person peace-of-mind when they are at home alone.
- Housekeeping Services
This is something you definitely will not find in many non-55+ communities!!!! But it’s one of the top perks of living in a 55+ community! You can have someone come and clean your home while you’re out. This benefit is very attractive to people who are unable to maintain their own homes.
- Transportation Services
Most elderly persons do not like to drive or travel very much, especially after they reach a certain age. Therefore, transportation services such as; taxis; bus shuttles; boat shuttles and medical transport (ambulances) may be available within your community.
The ability to get around without needing a personal vehicle will make life easier for an older person with disabilities or mobility problems.
- Medical and Dental Clinics
Many communities offer medical and dental care facilities within the community. This is extremely convenient! It can save you a lot of time and energy traveling to appointments, especially if your disability involves mobility issues or pain/discomfort.
Additionally, many 55+ communities have an assisted living facility located on the property as well as live-in personal care attendants (PCA) who can help you with tasks like housekeeping, food preparation, transportation , medication reminders etc.
- Fitness Facilities – Weight Rooms – Yoga Classes – Recreation Centers – Swimming Pools & More!
These types of amenities can be extremely attractive to both disabled and non-disabled people. They provide a wonderful way to stay active and healthy, thereby lowering the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The Cons of Living in a 55+ Community as an Under 55 Disabled Person
- Not Everyone is Accepting of “Different” People
Unfortunately, some people have a stigma about disability that isn’t always easy to cope with. In many cases, they may not understand how a person with a disability could possibly live on their own or take care of things for themselves.
This may cause those who are under 55 with disabilities to at times feel uncomfortable being so different from others – especially if they have been introduced as someone else. Or it may even lead them to feel a bit insecure in the presence of others.
Some people with disabilities may not have been able to afford an independent living situation on their own when they were younger, but now that they’re older and have a disability, they want to be free from needing assistance with everyday tasks. They want to enjoy life just like any other person.
People in this category will really need to go into a 55+ community knowing how they will be accepted by others there. You definitely do not want to invest in a home or move your family into one of these communities if you are going to be met with negativity every day!
Before signing a contract you should note how accepting everyone is towards those who live differently than them! If it looks like they would have a problem with you being there, then please reconsider!!!
- Out of Sight – Out of Mind
This is especially true regarding those who are disabled and living under 55. In some cases, people just don’t want to see others rely on assistance from an outside source or become dependent in any way that makes them need to be “taken care of”.
This stigma has created many problems for people under age 55 who may need regular help with things like personal hygiene or medication reminders. It may also cause some people to think they will be more independent if they don’t live in a 55+ community, even though that is not the case.
Additionally, this belief can and does lead others to believe that receiving outside help somehow makes them less of a person. Although, it really shouldn’t make any difference whether someone receives assistance from an outside source or not. We all need support from time to time.
Some disabled people under 55 choose to live in integrated communities (not 55+) instead of segregated ones because they do not like being segregated out due to their disability. They feel it’s wrong for society to segregate anyone based on anything!
- Do Not Get Caught Up in the Community Lifestyle!
At times, it can be difficult for someone who is used to having their own space and independence to accept the fact that they will not always have alone time in their home when they need it.
Even though many people who live in these communities may get regular visits from family and friends, they may not be able to see them 24/7 or visit their home whenever they want because the disabled person under 55 is sharing a space with other people.
Some of your activities will have to be put off until later if others are using the activity facilities at the same time you would like to use them. You will also have to share certain living spaces such as; laundry rooms and storage areas which can be difficult for someone who has always had full-control over where and when things get done!
On the flip side, there are many benefits that come from having other residents close by who can help you if something goes wrong!
- You Don’t Get to Choose Where You Live!
You cannot afford to choose where life takes you. As you get older, your lifestyle will most likely change and you may end up needing to live in a different place than what you currently call home.
It is hard enough when anyone has to move out of their house, but if they have a disability that makes it difficult for them to keep up with certain household chores at home, then the added stress of being able to do things for themselves can sometimes be too much!
When people are under age 55 with disabilities they have the additional challenge of having no control over how others feel about them living there. If this element causes an issue, then it is very possible that the disabled person could be asked to leave!
It is very important for those who are under age 55 with disabilities and currently living at home on their own, to make sure that they consider the following:
- If you could live independently and not rely on others for everyday things like eating and bathing, would it be nice?
- If you had a choice between assisted living or living in a community geared towards individuals within your age range, which would you prefer?
- Can you keep up with everything that needs to get done every single day without assistance?
- Are there certain chores you cannot do because of your disability?
- Is moving away from family/friends out of the question due to circumstances beyond your control?
- How will things change if you move into an assisted living facility?
- How will things change if you move into a community that is geared towards people your age?
- Is it possible to live independently with the support of others nearby?
If you answered “yes” to all these questions, then choosing an independent living situation like Assisted Living or Adult Foster Care may be more beneficial until additional changes take place!
It all depends on the institution that the person with a disability is residing in whether they are allowed to live in a 55+ community. There are some of these institutions that cater to disabled people of all ages and some for those under 55 only. It’s best if you choose places like adult foster care, assisted living facility or nursing home where you can get social amenities more than medical, as this will improve your quality of life.
If age is a factor to be considered for disabled persons looking to live in a community, it would be good for them to check out a place first especially if they have reasonable income and/or family members who can help cover the household expenses every month. Ultimately though it’s still up to any individual on what kind of lifestyle they want to have as no one knows how long each person will live with disabilities!
Please consult a licensed real estate agent or appropriate professional
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