Not Your Mother's Retirement Community

With kayaking, skydiving and easy commutes to town, retirement communities are changing

Amy MacWilliamson for TIME

Maureen and Ed Christiansen in retirement at California's Trilogy at the Vineyards.

If there's one thing older folks are said to dread, it's the prospect of a retirement community--that residential departure lounge from this life to whatever comes next. Filled with infirm neighbors and too-little stimulation, they are widely seen as one step above a nursing home--if only because you maintain your own little home--but not much more. That, at least, is the way they used to be.

As with so much else in the baby boomers' long march from birth to senescence, retirement communities are being reinvented--and with good reason. Only a generation or two ago, simple actuarial arithmetic didn't give most...

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