What is Independent Living?
When people think about moving out of their house and into a senior living facility, they often picture something that feels institutional and impersonal. Independent living couldn’t be more different from that image.
What Independent Living Is
Independent living communities, sometimes called retirement communities, allow seniors to maintain the independence of living at home, while gaining the benefits of being surrounded by other active seniors. While not all independent living communities are specifically for seniors, many of them are available exclusively to people age 55 and up.
Independent living facilities don’t offer the same level of care that assisted living homes do. They’re meant for seniors that can pretty much take care of themselves, but appreciate having more convenient activities and social opportunities around.
Retirement communities take many forms. They commonly offer apartments that seniors can rent out and make their own, but some offer houses. In some cases, independent living options are part of continuing care retirement communities that make it easy for seniors to get higher levels of care as their needs increase with age.
In short, independent living isn’t just one thing, but what most retirement communities have in common is that they provide seniors an option to live on their own, while in close proximity to a community of other seniors.
The Benefits of Independent Living
As nice as the comforts of your own home are, a move to an independent living community offers a lot of attractive benefits:
- No more home maintenance. Keeping your lawn mowed. Fixing every little thing that breaks. Taking care of a house is expensive and difficult. In an independent living community, someone else takes care of most of that stuff.
- Easy access to social activities. Retirement communities typically offer a wide array of activities for residents. Things like movie nights, crafts, and trips to local museums keep residents active and experiencing new things.
- A new community. After retirement – and especially after you lose the ability to drive – loneliness and social isolation can become serious issues for seniors that stay in their home. Those that make the move to independent living apartments immediately tap into a large community of new friends.
- Greater accessibility. Most houses aren’t built to be especially accessible for anyone that has trouble getting around. As you get older, you may find moving through your own house becomes much more of a challenge. Independent living facilities are designed with ease of accessibility top of mind, since they’re built specifically for seniors.
- Easy meals. If you love cooking, most independent living facilities offer apartments or homes with a kitchen so you can keep up with the habit. But for those that don’t like cooking, or that like the option of having a break every once in a while, retirement communities also offer meal options to save you the trouble.
- Increased safety. One of the big reasons a lot of seniors end up moving out of their homes is due to the concern of family members. If you live alone as you age, a simple fall can become life threatening. In independent living, there are always people around to help out and many security precautions put in place to keep residents safe.
Is Independent Living Right For You?
In spite of the list of benefits, many people still prefer to stay in the house they’re used to. Deciding whether or not independent living is the best choice for you really depends on your particular circumstances and those of your family.
If your loved ones are pushing for a move to a retirement community because they worry about your safety, you might consider checking out those that are in your community before dismissing the idea out of hand. Most seniors that move into independent living appreciate the activities, the close proximity to friends, and the ease of life activities and responsibilities it offers once they’re there.
And many retirement communities are focused on bringing together likeminded individuals, like the Burbank independent living community for artists, or the retirement community for seniors that like to travel the country in RVs.
How to Find an Independent Living Community
If you do decide to consider independent living, the next step is to find the right community for you. You can do a search for a listing of all the independent living communities in your area and see how they stack up in terms of amenities, features, and cost. You can also read a collection of reviews from current and previous residents and their loved ones that will give you an idea of what to expect from each one.
All that information can help you narrow down your search to the top few options nearby. Before making a definite decision, you should pay each of your top choices a visit. You can see how the apartments or homes look, meet with some of the current residents, and get a feel for the overall atmosphere of the place.
If you find the right spot, it can quickly come to feel like home. You can keep your independence, but embrace an easier, more active life.