Today’s seniors are not content to spend their golden years quietly watching TV or knitting in a rocker. They want retirements filled with purpose, adventure, and rich relationships. Both independent living communities and continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) offer an alternative to living alone. So which one is right for you? Here’s what you need to know as you weigh your options.

What is Independent Living?

Independent living communities cater to independent-minded seniors who no longer wish to live alone in their own homes. These communities offer seniors all of the privacy of living at home, but within the context of a connected and welcoming community. Many independent living communities, including Arbor, also offer additional help for seniors who have chronic health issues or need assistance with daily tasks.

In independent living, seniors participate in community events and outings, can take classes or attend group meetups, and enjoy gourmet meals in lush settings. The focus is on community, although seniors live in private units and do not have to participate in any specific activity.

The benefits of independent living are myriad, including:

  • More social connections.
  • A beautiful home without any work.
  • Help when you need it.
  • Potentially lower costs, since seniors no longer have to fund home ownership
  • Plenty of activities.
  • A chance to keep learning.
  • Caregiver support and family education about aging, dementia, and other concerns.

Many independent living communities enable seniors to age in place by offering assisted living and memory care within the same community.

The primary drawback of independent living is that seniors must move out of their homes.

Download Our Guide on Independent Living

What is a CCRC?

Continuing care retirement communities are communities or neighborhoods where seniors can age in place in a freestanding home, apartment, or condo. For seniors who crave their own space but who want the reassurance of help when they need it, they’re a great option. CCRCs often offer activities for seniors, but the focus is less on daily activities and more on supporting seniors’ desire to remain independent.

The benefits of a CCRC include:

  • A chance to live in a beautiful neighborhood alongside other seniors
  • Aging in place as your needs change
  • Neighborhood amenities such as a pool and/or workout room
  • Caregivers and support staff who come to you

The drawbacks of a CCRC include:

  • Fewer social connections. CCRCs tend to offer fewer events and activities, so seniors don’t have as many opportunities to make friends.
  • High costs. CCRCs are significantly more expensive than any other senior living options. They tend to charge hefty entrance fees—$100,000 to $1,000,000, and sometimes even more.
  • Isolation. If the CCRC is not located near local attractions or amenities, or if it does not offer transportation, seniors may struggle to remain engaged with their communities.
  • Less caregiver support. In CCRCs, the focus is on supporting senior health, not helping the entire family.

How to Make the Decision

For seniors who dislike the idea of community living and who can afford it, CCRCs can be an enticing option. These communities are out of reach for most seniors, however, and independent living often offers better benefits. So which one is right for you?

A CCRC could be a good choice if:

  • Your primary concern is getting help to age in place.
  • You want to live in a standalone home, not a unit that is part of a larger community.
  • You need less support for daily activities and entertainment.
  • You can afford to make a significant investment in senior living.
  • You’re anxious about living alone at home, but don't necessarily want to move to senior living.

Independent living could be a great option if:

  • A CCRC appeals to you, but you can’t afford it.
  • Finances are a key concern, and homeownership is becoming too expensive.
  • You want support to remain active in your community.
  • You want your family to be involved, and to get lots of support.
  • You relish the chance to make new friends and embrace new interests.
  • You want a day full of activities, as well as a beautiful place to eat with friends.

Retirement can be anything you want it to be. The right senior living solution helps you make your retirement dreams a reality. The Arbor Company would love to help you weigh your options. Give us a call or schedule a visit to learn more about what we offer!

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