What Is Independent Living?

Many retirement communities are available nowadays, making it challenging to track the options available for older adults. Some will be happy to go into a supervised community, whilst others are looking for something like residential park homes where they can enjoy the next part of their life in their own way.

So, suppose you or your loved one are considering moving to a retirement community but aren’t entirely familiar with the different living options. In that case, you may need clarification on which option is best for your circumstances. For instance, what is independent living? Below, we’ll break down this retirement living option in detail.

What are independent living communities?

Independent living refers to the many housing arrangements available for older adults who are 55 years of age or older, from detached homes to residences in retirement communities.

Independent living targets older adults who require little to no assistance with day-to-day tasks. These homes have reduced maintenance so that laborious chores like gardening and lawn care are looked after by retirement home staff or simply excluded from the housing arrangement.

Older adults who move to an independent living community will live alone but gain the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a community lifestyle. They’ll have access to amenities such as a communal dining area, recreational centers, fitness classes and facilities, and the opportunity to join in on planned events and activities arranged by the retirement home.

Because independent living homes target older adults who need little assistance in daily life, these homes generally do not provide regular medical care. However, many communities offer access to 24/7 emergency medical services that can be alerted anytime.

Some independent living communities also offer basic housekeeping, laundry, and meal preparation services, allowing older adults to reduce their daily chores and enjoy their newfound free time.

Overall, independent living is ideal for older adults who are ready to retire and relinquish some of their chores but still live relatively active and energetic lifestyles.

How independent living differs from assisted living

Many aspects of independent living differentiate it from assisted living, as these two-housing options target different needs regarding medical care, daily assistance, and amenities.

Independent living homes are for older adults who can get through the day with little to no assistance. These individuals would have no problem doing chores, caring for their hygiene, or running errands.

However, assisted living is for older adults who require help with day-to-day tasks and may even need regular supervision.

Assisted living housing is available in retirement communities, apartment complexes, or separate houses where medical staff will make daily visits to those in residence.

Assisted living homes provide hygiene and medical care, administration of medication, full housekeeping, and meal preparation, among other amenities. These homes are for older adults whose circumstances prevent them from completing chores and tasks without risking their health and safety.

Therefore, if you or your loved one are trying to decide which retirement community is the right fit, consider the level of personal assistance they require.

Independent living may be the right choice if they can live alone with little risk to their safety. However, if your loved one has been experiencing accidents and falls, they may be better suited to assisted living, where they will receive more hands-on assistance.

Types of independent living homes and communities

Various senior living options are available for older adults wishing to move to an independent home. Let’s go over a few different options below:

Apartment complexes and townhouses

Apartments and townhouses specifically for older adults are popular options for independent living.

The rent for these types of homes may include several different services and amenities in the total price, such as transportation, meal preparation and recreational programs. Some apartments may offer communal living options, such as a community recreational area and dining room, while others act as separate residential dwellings.

Retirement communities

Finally, older adults who want to be surrounded by peers and have the opportunity to make new friends will enjoy independent living in a retirement community.

These apartment-style homes are for older adults who want to live independently but also want the option to mingle with others. Communal dining, recreation, and activity areas are available for those wishing to use them.

Retirement homes aim to get older adults more involved with their community by planning events and activities for those in residence to participate in.

As mentioned above, retirement communities allow those in independent living to have certain chores and tasks on-site staff perform, such as housekeeping, linen services, and meal preparation. Depending on the retirement community, these amenities may cost extra.

Overall, there are a few different independent living options for older adults to choose from that cater to the individual’s needs and preferences. We recommend examining the current circumstances of you or your loved one and comparing them with the options available to them for housing to see what best fits their needs.

Is independent living right for you? — Conclusion

Now that you know what independent living is and what it entails, you may wonder: “Is independent living the right move for my loved one?”

If your family member can manage daily tasks with little to no help, independent living may be the right choice for their next retirement phase. They can enjoy their newfound free time and relinquish specific tasks to on-site staff while enjoying an active lifestyle.

However, if your loved one is currently experiencing issues with managing personal and household tasks, suffers falls and accidents, and requires more help and supervision, they may be best suited to assisted living.

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