What Is Independent Living?
Independent living refers to a way of life in residential communities designed specifically for those who have reached or are nearing retirement age, but want to remain active and independent. These communities feature social activities, amenities and services to make your life more carefree, in addition to housing options designed with seniors in mind.
Unlike assisted living, independent living communities are for those who do not need help with daily tasks such as bathing or taking medications, although some independent living communities may offer very limited medical services.
What Does an Independent Living Community Look Like?
You can expect a variety of housing options in an independent living community. These can range from apartments and condos to duplex cottages and detached garden homes. Regardless of the type of home you choose, you will usually find handy features designed with safety and ease of senior living in mind, such as:
- Handicap accessibility
- Emergency alert systems
- First floor access to elevators.
These types of communities come in various sizes and layouts, and are often part of a larger community that also offers housing for seniors that require care, such as assisted living or skilled nursing care. This type of larger community that includes independent living as an option is called a Continuing Care Retirement Community. The advantage of this type of community is that you don’t have to move far if you get to a point where you need more care.
Independent living communities are typically located in or near residential or urban areas, which means residents can feel part of the overall neighborhood, community and county or city where they live.
What’s it Like to Live at an Independent Living Community?
You’ll have freedom to come and go in an independent living community, while still having the privacy of being in your own home. There are no limits on when or how much you come and go, and you can have friends and family over as much you like.
In some communities, meals are included in your monthly fee, and you can usually choose between several options each day. You can also still continue to cook in your own kitchen if you’d like. Although transportation is typically included, you can often keep your own vehicle and continue to drive as well.
There are usually lots of scheduled activities ranging from water aerobics to art classes. And you can choose to participate in as many of these as you’d like as often as you’d like. It’s really up to you. You also have the freedom to continue to pursue many of your own unique hobbies and interests.
Even though you can remain self-reliant in an independent living community, you’ll get peace of mind from the around-the-clock security and knowledge that emergency help is close by if you ever need it.
Is Independent Living Right for Me?
Consider these statements below to determine if they describe you:
- I am still relatively healthy.
- I like having my own living space.
- I like being independent.
- I am willing to move to a smaller home, or am unable to stay in my current home.
- I prefer to live on my own, or do not have a relative or friend with whom I can live.
- I no longer feel safe in my home.
- I feel isolated in my home.
- I need help getting in and out of the bathtub or taking a bath or shower.
- I need help getting dressed.
- I need assistance with personal grooming.
- I get my medicines mixed up or can’t remember when to take them.
- I can no longer cook or need help preparing meals.
- I can no longer drive or can only drive very short distances.
- I do not have family or friends nearby if I need help with daily tasks.
- If all or most of the Independence statements apply to you, but not the Daily Living statements, then independent living may be a good option for you. This includes independent living in Continuing Care Retirement Communities that let you transition to a higher level of care when you need it. Since you are still very independent and don’t need daily help or nursing care, you might also want to consider these options:
- If most or all of the above Independence and Daily Living statements apply to you, and you do not need regular nursing or medical care, then consider these options:
- If most or all of the above Independence and Daily Living statements apply to you, and you also need regular nursing or medical care, then consider these options:
What to Expect from Independent Living?
Most independent living communities have group dining areas, common areas, clubhouses or other recreation areas where you can enjoy the company of other residents.
If you enjoy being around others, you will also have plenty of chances to do so with daily organized activities, such as:
- Shopping sprees and other trips
- Concerts and entertainment
- Tai chi, yoga and other fitness activities
- Card games and billiards
- Religious services
- Arts and crafts sessions
You can come and go as you like, and still remain as close as you want with your family. Since you have your own private home in the community, you can usually have visitors when you like, and they can even stay overnight. Some independent living communities also allow pets.
There are basic services which are typically included in your monthly fees. Typical services include:
- Home maintenance
- Laundry Services
Costs of independent living can vary greatly depending on:
- Community location and amenities
- Type and size of residence
- Location of the residence within the community
- Other factors