We’re exploring a senior living buzz-word today by breaking down “Independent Living.” For new and more seasoned retirees, independent living is probably a term you’ve heard. But what does it mean? Who is it for? Today, we’re answering your frequently asked questions of this first step in retirement living.
What is Independent Living?
Sometimes called 55+ or retirement communities, independent living is the first step in retirement homes. By definition, these environments provide maintenance-free living for seniors ages 55 and above.
There are few state or federal regulatory guidelines for independent living, so communities vary greatly on what “maintenance-free” living means and what services are included. Generally, you can expect things like yard and apartment maintenance included in independent living costs. Some independent living communities also provide things like housekeeping services, laundry, paid utilities, cable/TV, storage, social events, even dining packages.
Medical services are not included in independent living environments. Seniors who thrive best at independent living are those who are relatively healthy, who don’t need on-site medical support. (See assisted living for more information on retirement living with health care services).
What’s the draw?
Senior living experts, like those at Immanuel, say a maintenance-free living environment holds the biggest draw for retirees tired of pushing the lawn mower. Rightsizing (ensuring your home fits your stage of life) has been an important retirement step for empty nesters who are finding that corner double lot that fit perfectly when their children were young, is now too much to maintain.
Beyond maintenance-free, retirees say they also like living in a place where everyone is in their season of life, as opposed to moving into a general apartment where you could be sharing your walls with late-night partying college students.
Margaret Clough-Kohler, resident at Immanuel’s Pacific Springs Village independent living cottages, says living with senior neighbors provided great support to her when her husband passed away. “People here were so understanding of what you’re going through, of what it’s like to lose someone.”
Researchers say a social aspect is important to aging well. Senior loneliness can be detrimental both emotionally and physically leading to mental health issues like depression as well as high blood pressure.
What are the costs involved?
Independent living costs vary depending on the community you’re exploring. These retirement communities are diverse in what’s offered and where. At Immanuel, our independent living communities include 2-bedroom townhomes, cottages, high-end luxury lofts, mid-range apartments and affordable senior living apartments, just to name a few. The costs of each vary based on amenities, floor plans and services.
In general, residents say additional amenities like maintenance costs, utilities, housekeeping, transportation offerings and social events provide great value in monthly fees.
Where do I start looking?
Not all independent living communities are created equal. And because there are very few regulations for these environments, it’s important to ask lots of questions before considering a move. Here are a few good questions to bring with you as you tour independent living:
- Are there staff members on-site who can assist with questions or maintenance concerns?
- What amenities and services are included in monthly costs and fees? Be sure to ask about things like utilities, parking, social activities and maintenance of even small items like lightbulb changes.
- What happens if my health needs change? Continuing care campuses offer retirement living at several health care levels. Meaning if your needs change, you may not have to move. Be sure to ask if assisted living, memory care or even long-term care is available on campus.
Ready to take the next step?
Senior living isn’t a choice you’ll make often in your life. You want every boxed checked. Let us help. Our Non-Profit vs. For-Profit comparison guide is free and the first step you’ll need when touring retirement communities. Click HERE to download. The guide provides additional touring questions to help you determine whether a community is the right fit for you.
Or visit us online. Here are some key websites to learn more about the differences between different senior living options:
55+Active Retirement Living