Adults across the country are finding a new way to approach retirement: luxury, maintenance-free living among new friends. Independent senior living communities are answering the call, providing a resort-like experience for residents that enhances independence and wellness.
What Is Senior Independent Living?
Independent living is defined as any community housing arrangement for adults over 55. These communities often offer a maintenance-free lifestyle and are designed for adults who do not require personal care assistance from caregiving staff with activities of daily living (ADLs). Instead, these adults live independently in a residential setting.
In short, independent living communities offer residents an active lifestyle and take care of household chores, like lawn maintenance and home upkeep, so that the residents can use their extra time to pursue what they love.
Services and Amenities Offered in Independent Living
Independent living communities offer a variety of services and amenities to residents that are designed to enhance their quality of life and wellness. Amenities and services can vary from community to community, and some are more common than others. For example, you might find fitness centers, on-site restaurants, libraries, and recreation rooms in most independent living communities.
Housekeeping services offered at independent living communities allow residents to spend more time doing what they want instead of tidying up. Housekeeping services can include:
- Regularly scheduled visits that include cleaning floors, dusting, and cleaning bathrooms
- Providing clean linens and making beds
- Cleaning windows
- Regularly scheduled deep cleaning
- Laundry services
Groundskeeping and Maintenance
Part of an independent living community’s maintenance-free lifestyle includes landscaping and house or apartment upkeep. Tasks taken care of by the community can include plumbing, electrical, or other maintenance activities as well as:
- Gardening and landscaping
- Changing light bulbs and tightening screws
- Clearing drains
- Making minor furniture repairs
- Hanging art
- Setting up electrical devices
Don’t worry if you love to garden or fix up your own home. You’ll have the chance to enjoy shared or individual garden plots, and you can always join or lead hobby clubs!
Team Members on Hand
Most independent living communities have someone on staff or on call at all times of day in case of emergency. Team members are there to answer questions and provide guidance for non-emergency situations. Unlike assisted living communities or nursing homes, caregivers and nurses are not available around the clock to respond to emergency situations. During emergencies at independent living communities, team members will call first responders.
Activities in Senior Independent Living
Senior living communities offer activities, events, and outings tailored to the desires of the community and the offerings of the larger geographic region. For instance, a senior living community in D.C. or Fairfax, Virginia, might have a community outing to the Smithsonian museums, while senior living communities in Atlanta might tour the Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Every day has the potential to turn into an adventure or party. That’s because, in a senior living community, your closest friends may live a few steps from your door. Some of the many activities you might find at the best independent living communities include:
- Classes and lectures on topics ranging from history to nutritious meal planning by community members who are experts in their fields
- Senior-friendly yoga and exercise groups
- Community celebrations, dances, and birthday parties
You will also have access to chef-prepared meals, restaurant-quality dining, landscaping that resembles a botanical garden, and immediate repairs when something goes wrong in your home. There’s no more budgeting to fix the leaky refrigerator. Instead, head out to yoga and take in a meal while a community maintenance person fixes it for you.
Differences Between Independent Living and Assisted Living
There are some key differences between independent living and assisted living communities, including the presence (or lack) of around-the-clock caregivers. However, there are also similarities, including transportation services, events and social programming, housekeeping services, and certain wellness amenities.
Benefits of Independent Living
Moving to a senior living community makes it easier to stay mentally, physically, and socially active. Easy access to wellness resources, such as on-site fitness classes and nutritious food, can help residents meet their health goals, live longer, fight dementia, and retain a sense of purpose. All adults deserve a long and great life; independent senior living can help them achieve it.
Staying social is easy in an independent living community. Residents are welcome to entertain guests and family in their homes. They can also attend events and programs around the community to get to know their neighbors and create lasting friendships.
Residents are also welcome to come and go as they please so they can keep up with relationships and socialization outside of the community.
Sense of Community
There are plenty of common areas in which to meet neighbors in an independent living community. Catch up with friends while playing poker in the recreation room, or sit by someone new at dinner in the community’s restaurant — it’s your call. No matter what, staying connected to peers means better overall physical and mental health.
Safety and Security
Many independent living communities feature a 24-hour security system, including a personal emergency response system for residents.
Independent living communities feature an all-inclusive lifestyle, which means that one monthly bill covers meals, services, and use of amenities. A simplified budget is an often-overlooked but extremely important benefit of this living option.
Bring along your favorite companion to make your house a home. Most independent living communities offer some type of pet-friendly accommodations.
Cost of Independent Living
Independent living may be more affordable than you think. You’re not paying for 24/7 nursing or other expenses associated with assisted living and other senior living arrangements. This means independent living is an affordable option for most budgets. Consider also that you’ll no longer have expenses such as a mortgage, property taxes, home maintenance, cleaning costs, and other drains on your resources.
It’s important to note that prices can vary from state to state and from city to city. Factors besides location that can affect independent living costs can include the floor plan size, amenities available, and offered services.
How To Pay for Independent Living
Medicare and Medicaid do not cover independent living costs, which means that most residents pay out of pocket for monthly fees. Speak with a financial advisor to determine if you can sell your home or other assets to pay for this all-inclusive lifestyle option.
How to Know When It’s Time for Senior Independent Living
Wondering if independent living is right for you? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Is home maintenance becoming a burden for me?
- Do I no longer feel safe at home?
- Is it difficult for me to feel connected to others?
- Am I feeling lonely and isolated?
- Is my large home too much to care for and get around?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, independent living could be your best next decision.
Choosing the Right Senior Living Community
If you’re ready to make the switch to independent living, your journey can begin with a simple internet search. Another option is to ask a friend in independent living about their experiences or to get your kids to widen the search by asking for recommendations.
Ready to learn more? Explore more about independent living, including how to choose the best community for your needs, on our page, Everything You Need to Know About Independent Living.