Residents at Bellettini’s Toscano restaurant.

WE HEAR ABOUT it all the time: The population is aging at unprecedented rates. More people than ever before are living to 80 and beyond, and the baby boomer bulge is swelling the ranks of those in their 60s and older. Medical advances allow us to live longer, yet strain the health-care system and younger family members who help care for their aging parents. Here in Seattle, thanks to superior elder care and housing innovations, new models for senior lifestyles abound, rejecting the outdated institutional vibe and revitalizing retirement living. The options are endless, the fit is individual, and everyone we talked to agrees it’s best to start the search early. Here is Senior Housing 101 to get you started.