When Jack Lindquist's doctor told him to find a place he'd like to live for the rest of his life, he and his wife looked at a dozen retirement communities before deciding on one geared toward active lifestyles.
The decision wasn't easy, but Lindquist--a resident of Walnut Village Retirement Community in Anaheim, CA--said he's very happy and very lucky to live in an active retirement community.
For Ron Ramstead, another Walnut Village resident, choosing an active retirement community was important for his health and lifestyle.
"It keeps your body going and keeps you active," he said.
Ramstead also is happy with his choice, but as a former administrator of another retirement community, he knows not every facility is created equal.
"A lot of communities are moving forward, but they haven't made the big jump," he added.
To find an active retirement community that stands out from the crowd, look out for the following factors.
When Lindquist moved into Walnut Village, he started taking a water aerobics class offered by the community.
"I did water aerobics an hour each time, three times a week," he said.
A bypass surgery sidelined him for a while, but then he took up the activity again--which is helping him on the road back to good health.
"I started out with 10 minutes and went up to 30 minutes a time," Lindquist added.
When considering courses, look for communities offering gym equipment, sporting areas and exercise classes that are interesting to you.
If you're excited to join a class, you'll be more likely to keep going--and stay in shape.
Currently, Ramstead is staying active by walking with fellow residents.
"We started a walking program we call Route 66," he said. "We have people walking with canes or walkers; it's for everyone."
The community is using the buddy system for the walks, and Lindquist estimates 80% of the residents are participating.
Activities that draw large crowds are often more enjoyable, but not every community has a big turnout.
To get an idea of how social the other residents are, Lindquist recommends trying it out before you commit. Lindquist and his wife spent a week at the community they were considering before moving in. They met other residents, visited the gym and the pool, and participated in activities.
"We even brought all of our children here and had dinner with them," he added.
A community with both sporty and purely fun activities will help you live a balanced life, as well as connect more with other residents.
For example, Ramstead participates in a birthday show once a month.
"A lot of rehearsal goes into it," he said. "And if [a resident's] birthday is in that month, it honors them."
When touring communities, ask for a full list of their activities, group events and community amenities. Spa areas, libraries and theaters are available at many communities--or accessible nearby.
At first, Lindquist signed up for an independent living apartment. When he returned to his community after a hospital stay, he spent nearly three weeks in a separate wing of the community for his recovery--but he didn't mind.
"You almost feel like you're home there," he said. "You're familiar with the surroundings and the people."
After receiving permission, Lindquist was able to return to his independent living apartment--with part-time nursing care for him and his wife.
So, look for an active retirement community offering different levels of care that can adapt to your needs. That way, if your--or your spouse's--situation changes, you know you'll receive the care you need without being uprooted.