Your Guide to Retirement Homes

Retired life can mean more time to enjoy hobbies and travel, but ultimately a secure home base and access to health care is a main concern in old age. Depending on how independent you want to be and how much medical care you'll need, there are a variety of living situations from which to choose.

And even if you're years from retirement, it may be a good idea to plan ahead to give yourself plenty of transition time.

Staying Put

Ideal Candidates: About 90% of seniors want to stay in their current homes after age 65, according to AARP, and this preference, called "aging in place" may be a good choice for relatively healthy retired individuals and couples.

What you get: Family homes have a lot of sentimental value, and many retirees would rather stay put in a familiar area with neighborhood friends.

And if necessary, retirees who choose this option can renovate or modify their homes over time when they need more assistance getting around.

Installing a stairlift is one of the more widely-advertised home modifications that can be helpful for the elderly, but many choose to move their bedrooms to the first floor of their house.

And if you do stay at home and become terminally ill, you can receive hospice care in your own home to provide comfort and care for you and your family in your final months, according to the the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Cost: Rearranging your home costs nothing, of course, but installing a stairlift, for example, could cost between $2,800 and $4,000 for a straight staircase or up to $15,000 for a more complex, custom stairlift. Hospice care at home may be covered by Medicare.

Independent Retirement Communities

Ideal Candidates: Individuals and couples who are independent, active and want to live in a community of peers with similar interests.

What you get: Depending on the retirement community you decide on, you can choose to rent or buy a home, apartment or townhouse, and you won't have to worry about home maintenance and taking care of your yard.

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