How to Design a Retirement Community

As the U.S. population ages, the needs of the elderly are having a greater and greater impact on society at every level. As people age, the homes and workplaces that were once easy to negotiate can become difficult to maneuver, as age-related diseases and disabilities set in. Due to this, retirement communities that are designed with the real needs of older people (ages 65 and up) in mind are becoming a growth industry. Knowing how to design a retirement community that speaks to the needs of an aging population is an important skill in today's building and design industry. Follow these steps to learn how to design a retirement community that serves retirees well.


  1. Image titled Choose an Options Trading Advisory Service or Newsletter Step 10
    Study the realities of an elderly person's limitations to understand what design elements can help meet the needs and enhance the quality of life of an elderly person.
    • The practical aspects of a live-in retirement community must be integrated into the design. This is a crucial element in order to truly know how to design a retirement community that serves the needs of its residents. Elements that must be considered include access to grocery stores, retail shopping areas, public transportation, pharmacies, and restaurants. A convenient means of taking delivery of essential items, like grocery deliveries, should also be integrated into the design for retirees who are less mobile.
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    Decide if the retirement community is for retirees living independently or in an assisted living situation. Study the differing aspects of each type of community and design the community with these elements in mind.
    • There are generally 3 different living situations for an elderly person in a retirement community. Independent living means the senior is living in their own individual home or apartment as part of the larger community. Assisted living means the senior must have daily assistance with practical matters like getting dressed, buying groceries, and driving. The third level is nursing care, which involves the senior having regular medical care in a live-in setting that is similar to a hospital.
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    Design walkways and steps with the needs of an elderly person in mind.
    • Many retirees will be walking with the aid of canes or walkers, and some residents will be wheelchair bound. Walkways must be smooth and flowing to accommodate these people. Handrails should be designed into walkways. Handicap parking and handicap access must be integrated into the community's design. Steep steps and difficult to negotiate upper stories should be eliminated or built with elevators that are easy for seniors to access.
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    Design signage that is large and easy to read.
  5. Image titled Change Joint Tenancy to Community Property in a California Living Trust Step 5
    Meet with medical professionals to assess how the medical needs of retirees should be integrated into the design of the community.
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    Design the communities' apartments with practical issues as well as opportunities for social interaction in mind.
    • Hallways in a retirement community must be large enough to allow wheelchairs to move easily. The bathroom must have safety rails, and toilet seats should be raised up. A security call system should be available for easy emergency alerts. Door handles and cabinet latches should be easy to maneuver for arthritic hands.
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    Assess the location for the proposed retirement community and design with the local geography in mind. Retirement communities are often built in warm climates, which make the winters much easier on seniors.
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    Build shared spaces into the design of the retirement community. Community areas, like meeting rooms, a picnic area, and a public library space that are conducive to conversation and group activities should be added into the community's design scheme.
    • Kathryn McCamant, of the architectural firm, McCamant & Durrett, which specializes in building senior communities and communally-oriented housing developments, says that social connections have a major impact on the physical and mental health of retirees. Thus, retirement communities should be planned with an open, friendly feeling that invites social interaction and connection between neighbors.
  9. Image titled Start Making Money Blogging Step 20
    Hire an architect who is sensitive to the needs of the elderly and who wants to know how to design a retirement community that is compelling and innovative.
  10. Image titled Write an Ordinary Power of Attorney Step 6
    Work with the architect on reviewing all these considerations for how to design a retirement community. Have the architect draw up plans for a retirement community that serves the needs of those who live there.


  • Areas that are remote and far away from emergency medical care are not a good choice when deciding how to plan a retirement community.


  • Bankruptcies and foreclosures of retirement communities are now an unfortunate aspect of life for seniors. Families who are buying into a retirement community must do careful research about the financial stability of the community they are considering buying into, no matter how beautifully it is designed.

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