INDEPENDENT LIVING FOR SENIORS

WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS?

Is it time to make a change?

As you age, you might find that your current living situation isn’t working for you anymore.

Maybe you’re an empty-nester, and your friends have left the neighborhood. Maybe the upkeep of an entire home and yard is too much for you. Maybe you want something new.

No matter your reason, once you’ve decided to explore your senior living options, you will likely feel a wide range of emotions.

We’ve created this guide to help you understand your options, teach you more about independent living for seniors, why more and more older Americans are choosing it each year, what you can expect, and more.

What is independent living?

Independent living for seniors is a type of senior living community for active older adults who can—and wish to—live on their own.

You can think of an independent living community as a retirement community; most residents are over a certain age (typically 55) and are retired, most live in single-family homes or apartments, and most are looking for the same thing you are: convenience and connection.

In independent living communities, your home maintenance, yard work, and sometimes even housekeeping and laundry are taken care of for you.

When you don’t have to deal with the day-to-day hassles of home ownership, you’re left with free time to enjoy retirement while living fully.

Types of Independent Living Communities

Age-Restricted Communities

These communities are made up of single-family homes, townhomes, or condos built in a neighborhood-style with a clubhouse that typically offers community amenities, a fitness center, social activities, and services.

Senior Apartments

This community consists of apartment complexes with an array of services for dining, transportation, and social activities. Some offer more high-end amenities than others. Floor plans also vary.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC):

This type of community offers options for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care, which allows you to age in place.​

Senior Co-housing:

This type of community consists of private homeowners working together to manage their property, maintain homes, carpool, and more.​

Independent Living Facilities:

Facilities comprised of studio or one-bedroom living quarters with shared living spaces; also known as a retirement home.

Assisted Living Facilities vs. Independent Living Facilities

If you haven’t looked into senior housing options before, you may think most senior communities are like nursing homes, designed for people who require more personalized health care. However, there’s a significant difference between independent living and assisted living facilities.

The most significant difference between the two options is the available levels of care offered. Many assisted living residents are not capable of living entirely on their own, whereas independent living residents continue to live an active lifestyle without assistance. Assisted living residents need regular senior care, help with regular daily activities, and cannot physically and/or mentally care for themselves without some level of assistance.

Who is independent living right for?

Independent living communities are for active seniors who are capable of living on their own. Ask yourself (or your loved one) the following questions:

Can you manage the activities of daily living (ADLs) on your own? These include hygiene, bathing, toileting, dressing, and eating.

Can you manage housework, yard work, and shopping on your own?

Can you manage medication, health appointments, and a healthy lifestyle on your own?

Do you experience isolation or loneliness? Do you want to spend more time with like-minded older adults?

Are you interested in maintenance-free living?

Are you looking for extra security?

Do you want to avoid in-home care as you age?

Do you want peace of mind as you age?

If you struggled to answer yes to the first three questions, you might want to consider assisted living or a nursing home. Those options provide more personalized care with all the resort-style benefits of independent senior living.

Features of Independent Living for Seniors

  • Daily social activities
  • Common areas built for socialization
  • Ability to cook in your very own kitchen, enjoy community restaurants, or eat in a restaurant-style dining room with fellow residents
  • Exercise, fitness, & wellness programs
  • Housekeeping & laundry services
  • Transportation services
  • Walking trails & golf courses
  • Access to health care services
  • 24-hour security for peace of mind

Paying for Independent Living

Independent living probably sounds great to you now, but you’re probably wondering what the catch is.

Well, luckily for you, a senior living community doesn’t have to be cost-prohibitive. Just like any neighborhood, apartment complex, or even hotel, there are a wide range of options to match any budget.

What you pay will vary depending on what type of independent senior housing you choose, which amenities you’re looking for, and where you’re located.

As you research more specific costs to your area, keep the following line items in mind:

  • Down payment for housing if you are purchasing a single-family home in a community
  • Monthly mortgage or rent
    Entrance fee for facility living
  • Monthly fees for maintenance, upkeep, & repairs

There are many ways to pay for senior living. Many seniors in independent living communities pay privately out of pocket. Look into your private health insurance and life insurance policies, Medicaid, Medicare, and veterans’ benefits to see if you qualify for assistance.

the best independent living for seniors

HOW TO CHOOSE

Now that you understand the ins and outs of independent living for seniors, it’s time to decide what option is best for you.

These questions can help you research various communities near you:

  • How old are the residents?
    You may want to live in a seniors-only community, instead of seniors-mostly! Additionally, “seniors” is a wide age range, and you may want to ensure you’ll have neighbors close to your age. All the better to reminisce with!
  • What kind of amenities does the community offer?
    If you plan on using your kitchen for cooking and your living room to entertain, you may not need a large clubhouse. On the other hand, if you’re looking for big common spaces or fitness programs, you should look into a full list of amenities.
  • What kind of social activities are on the calendar?
    Are you a social butterfly or more of an introvert? Make sure the activities that scheduled are things you’re interested in joining.
  • How are meals handled?
    Again, if you still want to cook yourself, make sure that you’ll have a full kitchen in your new residence. If you’d rather eat in a dining room with other residents, take a look at the menu to make sure you’ll find meals you like. Additionally, if you have diet restrictions, ask about how they handle those.
  • Are pets allowed?
    If you have furry friends, find out if you can bring them along.
  • How safe is the community?
    Asking this is an entirely fair question. Security should be around 24 hours a day, but be sure to ask about nights, weekends, holidays, and emergency services.
  • What is covered with your monthly fees?
    If there are any surprise charges, you’ll want to find those out before you move in!

Independent living for seniors is a big industry with a lot of options.

Finding the right one for you can be overwhelming. Talk to the experts at Caring Advisor to find out more about what you need and where to find it.