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Congregate Senior Housing

To see a list of congregate senior living options, enter your desired location in the search bar and then select on independent living.

Retiring is stressful enough. But to think about moving into a new community can be overwhelming for some. If you’re retired and in good health, consider congregational living.

Congregational living offers seniors independent living options with non-medical support, communal dining, and planned activities.

These senior living communities are designed for self-sufficient seniors who want the company of their peers in a neighborhood environment.

We will look at ways to select the right community. But first, what does a congregational community look like?

The Basics of Congregate Senior Housing

Services and amenities vary from place to place. But here are some you’ll likely find as you begin your search.

Age requirements: Varies: age 55+, 62+, and 65+

Basic resident requirements: Residents must be able to feed, dress and wash themselves, take care of their personal hygiene, and must be mobile, even with a wheelchair. Residents also must be able to get in and out of chairs, use the toilet unassisted and be able to get outdoors.

Accommodations: Private rooms; Apartments– 1-bedroom, 2-bedroom, 3-bedroom (kitchenettes, thermostat, fire alarms, smoke detectors, sprinkler system, air conditioning, cable TV, emergency phone system).

Amenities: community center, computer access, indoor/outdoor pool, laundry, parking, dining room, library, guest rooms

Services: 24-hour staffing, housekeeping, personal laundry

Dining options: usually one meal a day is served. Vegetarian, low salt, diabetic

Payment options: Residents can buy, rent or obtain government-subsidized rentals through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Selecting the Right Community

Once you’ve found a few senior living communities, pay them a visit. Consider these factors when you’re there. Bring a notebook and write down your observations.


Get a feel for the people who live there. Talk to the residents and staff.

  • Are they friendly?
  • Do the residents seem truly independent?
  • Do you share some of the same hobbies and interests?
  • Do you want to get to know these people better?
  • Is staff trained for the visually and hearing impaired?


Walk around the community. Explore the grounds. Use all your senses. How does it smell? Is it quiet and peaceful? Are there surrounding noises (e.g. construction, city racket) that bother you?

  • Is it small and cozy? Large and bustling? Which do you prefer?
  • Is it cheerful inside?
  • Is there a common area? Do you residents use it?
  • Is there a yard? A garden? BBQ area?
  • Would your apartment be big enough?
  • Is there room for guests?
  • Do they allow overnight guests?
  • Storage room?
  • Is there plenty of natural light?
  • Is it pet friendly?
  • Is there security?


You shouldn’t feel isolated. If you’re not familiar with the location, research it. Find out what the area offers.

  • Is it in a safe part of town?
  • Are you close to friends and family?
  • Are you close to your doctors and hospital?
  • Close to grocery shopping, restaurants, etc.
  • Are there parks or walking trails nearby?
  • Is public transportation close by?

Things to Do

How will you spend your days? Ask if there is an activities director.

  • Is there a recreation center?
  • Is there a reading group?
  • Is there a community activity calendar posted?
  • Are there residents who like to exercise?
  • Are there religious services?


Many seniors are independent but find that they would like the company of their peers. Congregational living could be the ideal senior living option.

You’ll live in a home that requires no maintenance. You’ll have safety. You’ll have planned activities. You’ll have basic amenities readily available. And best of all, you’ll meet new people. With congregational living, your senior living can feel like home.

To compare congregational living with other senior living options, see Senior Retirement Lifestyles.

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Scott founded Select Home Care Portland in 2009 and has been helping seniors live their best life at home or in their local senior community ever since. As an advocate for seniors, the primary philosophy has been to listen, educate and provide… Learn More About Scott Witt

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt

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