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Your Helpful Guide to Independent Living Communities for Seniors

July 31, 2022
Independent Living Communities for Seniors
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Are you a senior citizen looking to move from your current single-family house into an independent living community? Do you have questions about what it's like? 

Independent living communities—also known as senior apartments, extended care facilities, or assisted living facilities—are good options for seniors who want to live independently in a structured environment. 

The cost varies depending on where you're located and what kind of amenities are available at each individual facility. This helpful guide should get you started with finding an appropriate independent living situation for yourself or your loved ones. 

What Are Independent Living Communities?

These are retirement communities, but not in the same way that assisted living facilities and nursing homes are. They're not hospitals or hospices, either.

Independent living communities are designed for older adults who want to live on their own but still need some assistance from time to time with daily tasks like cleaning or laundry. Independent living residents can choose which services they want to use at any given time, so if you'd rather do everything yourself than submit yourself to someone else's plan for your life, then this might not be the best choice for you. 

Other Names for Independent Living Communities:

In addition to independent living communities, there are other types of senior housing. These include:

  • Retirement communities
  • Retirement homes
  • Congregate care
  • 62 and over or 55 and over apartments or communities
  • Active adult or senior living communities
  • Senior living apartments or senior housing
  • Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)
  • Senior co-housing

Assisted Living vs. Independent Living

Assisted living is for seniors who need help with daily tasks, such as bathing and getting dressed. Independent living facilities are for those who can live on their own but still want to be part of a community. Assisted living is more expensive than independent living.

In addition to paying rent, independent residents usually have to pay a monthly fee that covers meals, housekeeping services, and medication management (if needed). The cost of assisted living can be hundreds more per month than independent senior housing because of the extra staff required at assisted-living facilities.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a form of independent living with the help of nurses and other staff. It's for seniors who need help with daily tasks, but otherwise, want to live independently. Assisted living communities offer a range of services, including housekeeping, meals, and transportation for seniors who want the companionship and security that come from being around others their age.

Housekeeping and maintenance services are often included in the monthly rental of an apartment, along with laundry services, utilities, transportation, and meals. In addition to enjoying the peace of mind that comes from this maintenance-free lifestyle, residents can take advantage of a full calendar of events, activities, out-trips, and countless opportunities for social engagement.

Types of Independent Living Arrangements

There are many different options when it comes to independent living arrangements. The goal is to find the one that best matches your quality of life and budgetary needs. 

Subsidized or Low-Income Senior Housing

If you are a senior citizen and qualified for low-income housing, then you could be eligible for subsidized or low-income senior housing. The federal government provides the funding to subsidize these types of communities. There are a number of requirements that must be met in order to qualify. 

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

In a nutshell, CCRCs provide seniors with housing and social activities. They also offer health care services to their residents. CCRCs are typically located on one campus, so they're easier to navigate than independent living communities where the residents live in separate buildings. The majority of CCRCs are limited to people over a certain age (usually 55 or 65).

Senior Apartments/Congregate Care Housing

Senior apartments are a great option if you want to live independently and be close to other people. Senior apartments are usually located in a building with other apartments, but they aren't necessarily congregate care housing (CCH).

CCH is a type of senior housing where residents live together in their own apartment or condo unit, which is shared with other seniors who receive care from staff members. In CCH, the staff prepares meals and cleans up after the residents. They also monitor medications, assist with bathing and dressing, help with transportation needs, and provide activities like crafts and exercise programs. All of this helps make life easier for seniors who may need extra assistance.

Is Independent Living Right For Me?

There is a lot of information to consider when deciding whether an independent living community is right for you. You need to take your time finding an appropriate solution for your care, living situation, and future plans. Odds are, this will be a solution that may be where your final years are lived. Think about topics like: 

How Healthy Am I (and How Healthy is My Partner)?

If you're healthy and active now, then an independent living community may be for you. The staff at these facilities can help with a variety of activities and will provide the companionship needed for seniors who are alone or without their families. However, if your partner has a disability or illness that prevents them from participating fully in their daily lives, this type of community may not be ideal. 

How Well Am I Able to Maintain My Current Home?

One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is whether or not you’re able to maintain your current home. While this may seem like a no-brainer question, it’s actually something that many people don’t think about until it’s too late. This can be the case even if you have good health and are still in relatively good shape.

Am I Getting Enough Socialization Right Now?

Socialization is a critical aspect of senior life. It can improve both mental health and physical health, and it can have a positive effect on your emotional state as well. When you're living independently, it's important to make sure that you are getting enough socialization in your life.

How Well Am I Able to Travel?

Your ability to travel is an important factor when deciding whether or not you will be able to live independently. If you love getting out and about, then you should carefully consider how your mobility will change as a senior before making the decision to move out on your own.

Pros and Cons of Independent Living Communities

When you consider the pros and cons of independent living communities, it's important to keep in mind that every situation is unique. While some people may benefit from this type of housing, others will find it to be less than ideal.

Advantages of Independent Living Communities:

Socialization and An Active Community

One of the best things about living in an independent living community is the opportunity to socialize. It's been proven that staying active and involved with others can help keep your mind sharp, improve your memory, and even lower your risk of depression. Plus, having friends at the end of the day can be a big help if you've got any health concerns or need someone to run errands for you. 

More Movement and Exercise

The first thing to keep in mind is that independent living communities offer the opportunity for more movement and exercise. You’ll have the chance to socialize with other residents, get outside, and do things you enjoy. For example, you may be able to join a walking group or attend a dance class, or even take up tennis. These activities can help reduce stress and depression symptoms. They also give you an opportunity to make new friends who share your interests and passions!

Say Goodbye to House Maintenance Tasks

As you get older, you may find yourself having to take on more and more tasks around the house. This can be difficult if you don't have the physical ability or energy to continue taking care of your home in the same way as before. Retirement communities provide seniors with all of these services already taken care of.

A Myriad of Amenities are Easily Available

Amenities are what makes a place feel like home, and they can range from community rooms to libraries to gyms to spas. They also include outdoor spaces, pools, and gardens. The exact amenities that you might find in your independent living community will vary based on the location of the property and what's available in your area.

Disadvantages of Independent Living Communities

No Comprehensive Medical Care

When you move into an independent living community for seniors, you may be surprised to learn that there is no comprehensive medical care. This means that your new community won’t have 24-hour nursing on-site or hospital facilities nearby. It also means they don’t provide doctors, pharmacies, physical therapy or occupational therapy, vision care, and hearing care (and other forms of home health). Every facility is unique, which is why you should ask about these services and if they are available on-site or if there is transportation provided when you need them. 

Giving Up Your Current Home

As you consider moving in with an independent living community for seniors, it's important to know that you'll probably have to give up your current home. That means downsizing and selling your house, finding a new place to live nearby, and moving into the new place. This may be difficult for some people because they've lived in their homes for years or even decades.

Lack of Age Diversity The older you get, the more you realize that there's an age gap between you and your peers. This is no different in independent living communities. Seniors may find themselves feeling isolated because they don't have much in common with other residents—whether it be younger residents or even older residents. If a resident wants to socialize with others their own age, they will probably need to do so in an independent living facility with similar-aged residents.

How Much Does It Cost to Live in Independent Living Communities?

When comparing the costs of independent living communities and assisted living, it’s essential to realize that there are many variables in play. While you can expect a monthly fee for an independent living facility (often between $2,000 and $5,000), this figure can vary depending on the location of the community, what amenities are included with your monthly price tag, as well as other factors.

In general, though, it is generally less expensive to live in an independent living community than it is to live in assisted living. This is because assisted living facilities provide more hands-on services like meal preparation and transportation—so their fees tend to be higher than those of independent senior care facilities, where residents rely more heavily on themselves for basic tasks like cooking meals or moving around without assistance from staff members.

Conclusion

Independent living is an excellent option for seniors who want to stay in their own home, but need some help with their daily tasks. It’s also a good choice if you want to be around other people who are at a similar stage in life as you are. The key is deciding which type of independent living community fits into your budget and lifestyle!

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