Residents in retirement communities — sometimes known as senior living communities — generally live independently. They do not typically require daily help to get dressed, eat, or attend to their personal hygiene. On the other hand, even seniors who enjoy the independent lifestyle provided by a retirement community may need a helping hand.
Older adults who need assistance with their activities of daily living may benefit from the services provided by an assisted-living facility. However, residents who purchased a unit in a retirement community may want to remain in their homes for as long as possible. To what extent can a resident in a retirement community be assisted by a relative or hired caregiver? The answer may depend on community rules, subject to local laws.
Like other condominium developments, the rules governing unit ownership in a retirement community typically appear in bylaws that are managed by a homeowner association. Retirement community bylaws may preclude a homeowner from living with a maid or other unskilled worker. Sharing a residence is particularly likely to be prohibited when the helper is younger than the minimum age required by the community bylaws.
The bylaws of most retirement communities prohibit the owner from sharing the residence with an occupant who is younger than age 18. Some communities allow the primary resident to live with a spouse who is younger than the minimum age required of primary residents, although they may set a different minimum age (such as 45) for spouses. Other communities allow adults of any age to live with the primary resident.
Bylaws do not typically prohibit helpers from visiting. A resident might hire an unskilled worker to visit daily or a few times a week to provide help with cleaning, laundry, and other labor-intensive work that the resident might regard as difficult or burdensome. A worker might also help with purchasing and putting away groceries, washing dishes, or preparing occasional meals.
Some retirement communities provide cleaning services to residents for a fee. Some offer dining plans and may have a delivery option so that residents can eat without leaving their units. Some offer transportation services to doctor’s appointments. When those services are unavailable, there is typically no barrier to a resident asking a friend or relative to provide transportation to medical appointments.
When retirement communities enforce minimum age limits upon all residents, they might make an exception to allow a younger caregiver to live with an older resident. California law, for example, allows a permitted health care resident (including a family member) to live with the unit owner regardless of age if the health care resident provides substantial services of a medical nature or assistance with the activities of daily living.
When caregivers do not live with a resident, there are typically no restrictions upon daily visits to provide services to residents who need them. Whether they are relatives or hired workers, common tasks of visiting caregivers include managing medication, assuring that bills are paid on time, and helping the resident with hygiene.
Caregivers may also provide companionship. While one advantage of a retirement community is proximity to other residents who may share an interest in group activities, a resident who feels homebound may welcome the companionship provided by regular visits with caregivers.