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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 Charlottesville, Virginia and Surrounding Areas

The central Virginia city of Charlottesville is nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, approximately 70 miles northwest of Richmond and 100 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. Established as a town in 1762 and incorporated as an independent city in 1888, Charlottesville is autonomous and not subservient to any county or other political subdivision. Major highways through Charlottesville are U.S. Route 250, U.S. Route 29, and Interstate 64.

Charlottesville is home to the University of Virginia, which was founded in 1819 by native son Thomas Jefferson. Consistently listed among the top ten public universities nationwide, the university is a strong factor in the city's community life and serves as the area's focal point for cultural and sporting events. Steeped in historic value, the Charlottesville area lays claim to having raised three ex-Presidents (Jefferson, Woodrow Wilson, and James Madison), whose former homes are now historic sites and architectural wonders which attract thousands of visitors every year.

Owing largely to the presence of the university, the technology industry is a continuously growing staple of the local economy. More traditional industries like agriculture are also prominent in the region, which embodies nearly 200,000 acres of orchards, vineyards, and cattle farms. The region's fastest growing industry is the grape business. Local wines and vineyards are nationally recognized and the area is highly ranked among the country's wine producers. Another significant local industry is horse farming, as evidenced by the more than 13,000 horses stabled in the city and surrounding county.

Things to do and see in Charlottesville

Nearly two million travelers per year visit the Charlottesville area to see the area's historic sites and take in the spectacular scenery of Central Virginia. Perched on a nearby mountain overlooking the city is Monticello, the former home of Thomas Jefferson, which offers tours and hosts special events and ceremonies. Only a mile down the road from Monticello is Ash Lawn-Highland, former home of James Monroe. Here visitors can explore beautiful gardens and enjoy the Ash Lawn Opera Festival, which offers six to eight weeks of full-length opera and musical theatre productions. About 45 minutes north of Charlottesville is Montpelier, the former home of James and Dolly Madison. This is a 2,750-acre estate that includes racecourses, a National Landmark Forest, active archaeological sites, and more than 130 buildings.

Charlottesville and surrounding Albemarle County are a paradise for nature lovers. Skyline Drive and The Blue Ridge Parkway offer breathtaking views of valleys and mountains to tourists who don't even need to leave their cars. Hikers can enjoy the many short and long trails which wind through the woods off these roads. Charlottesville is also home to a large number of parks with playgrounds, picnic areas, public tennis courts, and swimming pools. Other popular area activities are hot air balloon rides, golf at world-class resorts, and tours of one of the many local vineyards in the area, a few of which are listed here:

  • Cardinal Point Vineyard and Winery
  • DelFosse Vineyards and Winery
  • Jefferson Vineyards
  • Kluge Estate Winery & Vineyard

Charlottesville has an active art, music and theater scene. The Downtown Mall, one of the longest outdoor pedestrian malls in the country, is the location of the Virginia Discovery Museum. A 3,500 seat Charlottesville Pavilion Amphitheater attracts big name acts to the area. The newly renovated Paramount Theater hosts Broadway shows and concerts by nationally-known entertainers. The city also hosts an annual Virginia Festival of the Book, and is home to many prominent writers including John Grisham and Rita Mae Brown, as well as former home to Edgar Alan Poe and William Faulkner.

Charlottesville has no professional sports teams, but local sports fans are captivated by the University of Virginia Cavaliers, who have a wide fan base across the region. Cavalier football games are played in Scott Stadium, which is also used as a venue for large concerts by such artists as the Rolling Stones and the Dave Matthews Band. The John Paul Jones Arena, which opened in 2006, is where the University of Virginia basketball teams play their games. This new stadium is one of the largest in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Not surprisingly, The University of Virginia has an active athletic rivalry with Virginia Tech. An even older rivalry (often referred to as "The South's Oldest Rivalry") exists between the Cavaliers and the University of North Carolina (UNC) Tar Heels.

Horseracing fans can enjoy the exciting world of steeplechase racing, held every fall and spring at The Foxfield Races.

Charlottesville Public Libraries

Jefferson-madison Regional Library
201 EAST MARKET STREET
Charlottesville, Virginia
(434) 979-7151
Library Web Site

Charlottesville Hospitals

MARTHA JEFFERSON HOSPITAL
(Voluntary non-profit - Private)
459 LOCUST AVE
(804) 982-7000
Emergency Service: Yes

University of Virginia Health System
(Government - State)
1215 Lee St, Charlottesville, VA 22908
(434) 924-0211
Emergency Service: Yes