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    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 Is Independent Living

    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 There?

    What Does an Independent Living Community Look Like?

    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:

    Independence

    • 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.
    Independent Living elder lady watering plants

    Daily Living

    • 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:
        • Active adult homes
        • Senior apartments
      • 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:
        • Assisted living
        • Companion care
        • Non medical home care
      • 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:
        • Skilled nursing care if you can't stay in your home
        • Medical home health care if you want to stay in your home
    Is Independent Living Right for Me?

    What to Expect from Independent Living?

    Lifestyle

    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.

    Services

    There are basic services which are typically included in your monthly fees. Typical services include:

    • Home maintenance
    • Housekeeping
    • Laundry Services
    • Meals
    • Transportation

    Costs

    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

    Introduction to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Surrounding Areas

    The North Carolina town of Chapel Hill is located in the north central portion of the state on the Piedmont Plateau, about 30 miles outside of the state capital of Raleigh. The town, together with the cities of Raleigh and Durham, comprise the three legs of the so-called Research Triangle, named for a research park located between Durham and Raleigh. Chapel Hill is home to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH), the oldest state-supported university in the United States.

    Incorporated in 1819, the town was originally created to serve the University which had already been established before the end of the 18th century. In fact, the original map of the town shows 30 parcels of land wrapping around the northern, western, and eastern fringes of the campus. At the town's center is a hill on which once stood a Church of England house of worship called the New Hope Chapel. Although the Chapel is no longer there, the town's name serves as a reminder of its former prominence.

    Events and Points of Interest in Chapel Hill

    Chapel Hill is the site of the Festifall Street Fair, an annual October event which typically draws upward of 15,000 visitors. This arts and music celebration features live bands, international foods, numerous children's activities, and over 100 of the most creative crafts people and artists in the area. Another local October event is the Hargraves Fall Carnival, featuring entertainment and games. Local attractions include the Morehead Planetarium, one of the nation's original planetariums once used as an astronaut training site for the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo programs. The North Carolina Botanical Garden, located in Chapel Hill, is the largest natural garden of its kind in the southeast. Other popular Chapel Hill attractions include the following:

    • Coker Arboretum
    • Ackland Art Museum
    • The Chapel Hill Museum
    • Stone Center for Black Culture and History
    • Kidzu Children's Museum
    • Charles Kuralt Learning Center
    • Orange County Historical Museum

    Fans of collegiate sports couldn't find themselves in a better place than Chapel Hill. The University of North Carolina Tar Heels have won 37 team national championships in five different sports. The University competes in NCAA's Division I-A and participates in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Its teams are perennial powerhouses in women's soccer (18 national championships since 1981), men's basketball (5 national championships), men's lacrosse (3 national championships), and women's field hockey (4 national championships). The Tar Heel baseball team is also a consistent winner, most recently making it to the Championship Round of the 2006 College World Series. Notable alumni of the University's athletic program include Michael Jordan and Mia Hamm, among many others.

    Pro sports are not too far away either. Major league hockey resides in the nearby city of Raleigh, home of the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes. Minor League Baseball can be found only minutes away from Chapel Hill in the nearby city of Durham, where the Durham Bulls play. The Bulls compete in the International League as the Triple-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.