The population of people aged 65 and above in the US is increasing. While many of these people don't require any assistance with personal care, more families are having to make the choice of getting their loved ones and parents into an assisted living or a senior living community.
Though more common now, the decision to consider assisted living is not any easier for seniors or their families. As tough as these choices might be, families have to consider senior living communities that add the most value to the lives of their loved ones and help them be the active adult they have always been.
Although independent living is an easier choice than assisted living, you have to tread carefully and consider the pros and cons to determine if it is the best choice for you based on the age and abilities of the senior in question, their current situation, and if they require medical care.
What Is Independent Living?
Senior living involves different care levels: independent living, assisted living communities, memory care (for residents who have Alzheimer’s or dementia), and long-term care. Independent living requires the least amount of assistance. It’s often a lot of retirees who are still active and mobile and carry out their activities of daily living without any assistance.
Seniors in independent living stay in a community setup. Sometimes, they resemble resorts with spacious accommodations, luxury amenities, and the type of lifestyle you’d expect on vacation.
It is the least restrictive and assistive, unlike long-term care facilities. Residents can look into various housing options when considering this type of living arrangement, ranging from apartment-like communities to housing co-ops.
Depending on the type of housing, the residents can live in their own private space but have access to some common areas that they share with other community residents.
These communities also identify using other terms like retirement villages, 55+ communities, or senior apartments.
The amenities available in the community can vary depending on the type and cost. Some common ones include housekeeping and laundry service, restaurant-style dining areas, and group activities and trips.
Types of Independent Living Communities
Residents have several types of living options that they can consider when moving to this type of a community. These include:
- Low-income or subsidized senior housing – These are communities subsidized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They are for low-income seniors and generally cost less compared to other similar options.
- Senior apartments or congregate care housing – These communities feature apartment complexes, usually 55+ or 62 years and older, restricted by age. Rent may include community services like recreational programs, meals served in communal dining rooms, and transportation services.
- Retirement homes and communities – These are single-family homes, duplexes, mobile homes, condominiums or townhouses designed for those over a certain age, often 55 years or 62 years. If you purchase a unit, you may incur additional fees to cover other services like outside maintenance, recreational centers or clubhouses.
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) – CCRCs allow you to age gracefully and gradually increase your level of support and assistance within the same communities. You might start at the independent living wing, and as the residents require more assistance with daily living, they can upscale their care to assisted living, skilled nursing, and eventually long-term care. With a CCRC, you can relocate to a new environment and maintain your independence as long as possible.
The Advantages of Independent Living
Going into independent living is a huge decision, but it has numerous benefits for seniors and their families. The benefits might vary depending on the type of community you select and could include the following benefits.
Freedom from daily chores and house maintenance
Most people have a love-hate relationship for house chores and maintenance. No matter how long you do them, do you ever develop a liking for them? It’s one of those things you just have to do. But with independent living, you can finally shake house chores off your to-do list. It is one of the most sought-after perks of independent living – the freedom from responsibilities associated with homeownership.
Independent living tries to maximize the time you spend doing what you love, like exploring new hobbies or socializing. In addition, the communities have housekeeping and maintenance service teams that handle the day-to-day chores and repairs, so you can focus on spending the day as you’d like.
Most seniors think of retirement as the ultimate vacation. No more working and you can do what you want when you want, all day, every day, any day!
Independent living communities can be the closest you can get to a permanent retirement vacation with their all-inclusive and maintenance-free lifestyle. There are expenses you won’t have to worry about when you choose an independent living facility like:
- Multiple bills – At an independent living facility, you pay one bill to cater for the rest. You don’t have to worry about water, light, gas bills, or cable. Everything is covered in one monthly bill. It makes it easier to track your expenses.
- Car maintenance costs – You can cut back on your car running and maintenance costs by selling it and using the community’s transportation services.
- Home modification costs – The average cost of remodeling your home for aging in place is between $3,000 and $15,000. You can pay as much as $9,500 to add a walk-in or a roll-in shower, safety grab bars, and non-slip flooring. With independent living, you have added safety features, and you don’t have to worry about the extra cost of remodeling.
No more cooking!
You don’t have to worry about preparing delicious and nutritious meals. Food quality is a big concern as you age, and it’s wise to take some time to educate yourself about the right foods to support healthy aging.
Independent living establishments have complete culinary teams. You can add meal services to your plan and get freshly prepared, hot, delicious, and nutritious meals throughout the day. Some communities even have dieticians that ensure you get the proper meals to keep your energy levels up.
Privacy and community
Most seniors are concerned about independent living because they might lose their privacy, but at the same time don’t want to spend their golden years in solace. Independent living offers the best of both worlds.
The setting of the community gives that family-like neighborhood where you have your own space where you can enjoy some privacy but can still interact with like-minded people in a vibrant community.
Social engagement and new friendships
You can’t go out as often as you used to, which makes it hard to meet new people and see new places. Independent living brings new people to you. In the community, you’re surrounded by other people in the same stage of life as yourself.
Being around people in the same phase of life encourages new friendships and could be the beginning of new lifelong bonds. The best part is that you can focus on nurturing these new bonds because you don’t have responsibilities like grocery shopping, upkeep, and other house maintenance. So, you have more free time to get to know your new friends.
You get to keep an active lifestyle.
Now that you have all the time, you get to do what you’ve always wanted to do. You can use your time at the independent living community to work on your golf swing or learn something new. Most communities also organize group activities like:
- Bus tours
- Pub nights
- Book clubs
- Day trips
- Group outings
- Shopping trips
You can also enjoy some daily activities like Bingo!, gardening, baking, among others offered by the community.
Disadvantages of Independent Living
As impressive as independent living communities are, they’re not without some downsides. You need to know both sides of the coin to make the right decision and determine if this is the right senior living community arrangement for you or a loved one.
Moving to a new home
This is the most challenging aspect of going to an independent living community. Leaving the place you’ve called home for many years and moving to a place with new people, new noises, new food, and new expectations. It can be a lot to take in. Moving into independent living also means downsizing. Decluttering and parting with some of your possessions is never easy, even though the end result is worth it.
Less age diversity
In some independent living communities, age diversity can be a limiting factor. Although meeting peers your age can be exciting, you might miss that generationally-mixed interaction, especially if you like the mayhem that comes with being around children and young adults. Luckily, this is not the case in Danbury Independent Living. Our communities have family and friends of all ages visiting regularly.
Different privacy levels
Independent living communities do their best to give residents some privacy and the best services, but it’s probably different from what you were used to at home. However, your privacy level will depend on the community you choose.
Opting for independent living can open a new world of opportunities for you, and it could be your best decision. However, the benefits or downsides you experience during this phase will depend on the community you select. Therefore, you should carefully weigh your options and see what they offer.
Choosing Danbury Senior Living offers a supportive and active community for seniors who want to maintain their independence. Our community provides a range of amenities and services to help residents lead a fulfilling lifestyle, including comfortable living accommodations, social events, and recreational activities.
Additionally, our staff is dedicated to ensuring residents' safety and well-being, providing peace of mind for both residents and their families. Danbury Senior Living offers a welcoming and engaging environment that can enhance the quality of life for seniors.