Independent living is what the golden years are all about, enjoying your independence without everyday chores like yard work or housekeeping.
It’s about letting go of any unnecessary stress while still enjoying an active lifestyle. It’s about socializing with peers, participating in activities and special events, sustaining friendships, and enjoying a safe and comfortable community.
Ready To Make a Move to an Independent Living Community?
Independent living is simply any community, neighborhood, apartment building or other housing arrangement designed exclusively for older adults, aged 55 and over.
These communities are for those who are still both mentally and physically capable and need little or no assistance with daily living or medical care. They focus on creating a maintenance-free lifestyle to allow residents more time to pursue interests, connect with friends and neighbors and maintain an active lifestyle.
4 Types of Independent Community Facilities
There are four main types of senior living communities specific to independent care. It’s important to understand the differences and decide which type of community will work best for your needs.
1. Low Income or Subsidized Housing: This is a senior living community with rent below market rate. These apartments are subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. There is a financial requirement in order to qualify for this type of housing. The requirements vary by state.
2. Senior Apartments or Congregate Care Housing: This is typically a part of a larger facility that may offer a combination of assisted and independent living as well as nursing or memory care. Senior apartments provide meals to the residents as well as all housekeeping, laundry, and transportation while maintaining the residents’ independence. These are ideal for seniors looking for a true “maintenance-free” lifestyle.
3. Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs): For seniors who are relatively independent, but may have health problems in the future, a CCRC is a transitional choice. These facilities offer independent living and nursing home care which makes the transition smoother than having to move to a new facility.
4. Retirement Home & Communities: These are neighborhoods with single-family homes or condos for active retirees to live amongst their peers. These age-restricted communities provide ground maintenance, and often have a clubhouse or golf course nearby but offer little other organized services. Events and activities are organized by the residents themselves. This is the most independent of all senior living options.
Who Is a Good Fit for An Independent Lifestyle Community?
Independent living is designed for those who are ready to live without the work of homeownership, but who do not need regular personal care assistance.
The following groups are those who thrive in these communities:
Stress-Free Lifestyle: If your current home is a stressful and lonely environment – independent senior living can provide a whole new lifestyle. You’ll have access to onsite amenities, a community staff, and a neighborhood of active peers to socialize with.
Active & Independent: Independent living is for those who are 55+ and still fully capable of taking care of themselves. You still prepare all your own meals, use a car, and take care of your own medical needs.
Recently Retired: If you’ve recently retired, an independent living community can help you transition into the next chapter of life. Relocating to a senior community allows you to meet other retirees, enjoy your freedom, and explore new hobbies and interests.
Socializing: Living on your own can be lonely and isolating. Independent adult counties provide a neighborhood of friends in the same life stage, providing a great atmosphere to create new relationships.
Benefits of Living in an Independent Community
Transitioning away from a home full of memories into a senior living community can be challenging.
However, rather than a step-back, independent living is a step forward into a community full of new opportunities.
- Active: Designed around adults who are enjoying retirement, independent living keeps you active. You can enjoy the activities you love while trying some new things along the way with fitness centers, rec rooms, exercise classes, and calendars of events.
- Sense of Community: These are tight-knit communities where you know your neighbors and create new relationships. This is one of the biggest benefits for those who move in after retirement, or when a spouse has already passed away.
- Variety of Support Services: If you require additional assistance, support services may be available for an additional cost. This can include housekeeping, meal preparation, pet care, physical therapies, medication delivery, etc. Additional mental support such as life coaching or counseling is also available.
- Convenient Location: Most communities are located near local activities and amenities. This makes it easy to walk to the market, get to church or the theater quickly and easily.
- Ensure Safety and Security: Each community has an increased sense of security with well-lit common areas, lighted sidewalks and parking lots, emergency evacuation assistance, etc. Others may have additional features such as gated entries or home security systems.
- Downsizing on Your Own Terms: No need to wait until an illness or accident requires you to move out of your home. Making the move on your own terms makes it easier and more enjoyable to take control of your future.
The Best Time to Consider Moving to Independent Living
The most common phrase we hear from residents is, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” The benefits of a senior community kick in almost instantly, but there are a few things to consider when determining whether you’re ready to make the move.
- Thinking About the Future: Even though you may be in perfect health now, there may come a day when you can no longer drive or climb the stairs easily. Joining a community now provides the resources you may need later.
- Day-To-Day Tasks Become Difficult: If the laundry, daily cooking, and cleaning are becoming cumbersome, independent living can help. Everyday housekeeping services may be available in some areas to alleviate those daily chores.
- Strain on Your Family: Do you find yourself constantly asking for help from family and friends? While others may do their best to help, this can often become a strain to both the family and the senior who may inevitably feel like a burden.
- Safety Is an Issue: Sometimes simple things like getting out of the tub, mopping the kitchen floor, or taking the stairs can be dangerous. When your home becomes an accident waiting to happen, an independent senior living facility might be a good choice.
7 Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Community
When looking for a retirement community in your area, it can be an overwhelming process.
Keep things simple and start with these steps:
1. Talk to a Senior Placement Consultant: A senior placement consultant can help you to find the right community to fit your needs. They are professionals who understand the options in your area and can help you find exactly what you’re looking for at no additional cost.
2. Know Your Needs: Consider what is important to you and what is not. What about things like in-unit laundry, or a pool on site. Are meal service and housekeeping necessities? Will you need transportation or are you providing your own? Consider these areas to determine what your must-haves truly are.
3. Tour & Talk: It can be helpful to go and see the communities in your area before you make a decision. Talk to the residents if possible and ask them what made them decide to move in and what they like about the area.
4. Location, Style, & Size: First, consider location. Do you want to stay in the same state? Are you looking for somewhere sunny? Next, do you prefer a house or apartment style? These communities can be large areas in the suburbs or more compact apartment buildings in the middle of town. Consider which style appeals to you more.
5. Activities & Amenities: Look at how accessible the facility is to places you frequently use like a church, theatre, or golf course. Also, look at what activities and amenities they have on-site. Is there a fitness center, game room, or coffee shop nearby? Are pets welcome and can you have visitors at any time?
6. Consider Your Budget: Your budget will often determine where you can afford to live. However, a senior placement consultant from Senior Home Transitions can help you to work through a variety of financing options that may be available in your area.
7. Level of Independence: These communities are designed for adults who are fully independent both physically and mentally. For personal needs, dementia care, or daily medical needs, you may need a nursing home or assisted living facility. Many communities provide multiple level care options in one location. If you are concerned about the future, and how to ensure you have the specialized care you may need down the road, these are great options.
Services and Amenities for Retirement Living Communities
Most active senior communities will include the following residential accommodations to support your lifestyle.
- Registered dietician, special diets & three meals daily
- Ancillary health services—visiting podiatrist, dentist & ophthalmologist
- Transportation secured for medical appointments
- Scheduled daily/social activities determined by client preferences
- Laundry services
- Beauty and barber services
- Evening security
- Gardens, landscaping, and walking paths.
- Fitness center
Remember that some of these may not be included in your standard rates and may incur additional costs for use.
Cost of Living a Life of Retirement
Independent senior living can be a very affordable option for many seniors.
The cost of residing in an independent living community varies greatly based on the type of housing and the state where you live. The range can vary greatly.
For example, some may be around $2,300 a month while others reach $8,000 per month for the luxury communities with full service and amenities.
For more detailed and accurate prices contact Patti Naiser at Senior Home Transitions.
Tips on Transitioning
Moving to a senior living community can be hard for both parents and children. There may be grief associated with leaving your home or neighborhood, grief over growing old, and grief about being further from family and friends. When you’re considering adult living, keep the following in mind:
- Take Your Time: Choose the right move and the perfect community for you. Take your time to review each option and visit the facility beforehand.
- Include Your Family in the Decision: They can help you make a better decision because they can be objective, and they may know what you need better than you do.
- Personalize Your Space: Bring your furniture, artwork, and photos with you so you can add personality to your space and help it to feel more like home.
- Host a Party: Schedule a ‘house-warming’ party to show off your new place. Invite your family, friends, and new neighbors to celebrate your next chapter!
- Know What to Expect: Talk with others who have already made the move so you know what to expect and what you may not have considered.
- Socialize: It can be intimidating to be the new kid on the block, go outside and meet your neighbors. Attend social events and get to know the people around you.
Myths About Senior Living
Senior living has come a long way from the institutionalized white hallways and hospital-like atmosphere. Today’s facilities are often a far cry from the assumptions you may have.
MYTH: Moving to a retirement community means losing independence.
FACT: Independent senior living communities are designed to support your independence and ensure you can continue to live happy, safe, and independent lives.
MYTH: Living away from friends and family means there is no one around to help during an emergency.
FACT: As part of an independent living community, you will have access to the staff that is available 24 hours a day.
MYTH: Moving to independent senior living means giving up hobbies and interests.
FACT: The activities and amenities in an independent living community support your existing hobbies and allow you to discover new interests as well.
MYTH: Moving to an independent living facility means giving up my privacy.
FACT: You have the same level of privacy as you do now. You still have complete autonomy over your space and your schedule. You can spend your time how you want and with whom you want.
MYTH: It’s pointless to move if I can still take care of myself.
FACT: Independent living is not the same as assisted living. These communities are about making life convenient while you’re still able to independently complete all the basic tasks of personal care.
MYTH: Senior living communities feel institutionalized.
FACT: Many communities look and feel the same as any other neighborhood or apartment. They have beautiful grounds, luxurious amenities, natural light, high-end finishes, and a comfortable atmosphere.
MYTH: These communities are for “old” people.
FACT: While the residents are typically between 55 and 90 years old, these residents aren’t old or sick. They are active, vibrant, and energetic retirees who enjoy the zest of life at any age.
FAQs About Independent Senior Living