As they grow older, seniors may wonder how they can maintain an independent lifestyle for as long as possible. Independent living for seniors communities provides older adults with convenient housing that includes group activities, meals, transportation, and other amenities that can help them thrive.
However, independent living for seniors might not be the best fit for every individual. People who struggle with more complex medical issues might consider nursing homes and other assisted living options. This guide will help seniors decide what living option is ideal for their needs and explain what to look for when seeking the best retirement facility.
What is Independent Living?
Compared to assisted living, independent living for seniors is more suited to seniors who can manage daily activities on their own. For instance, meal preparation, some household chores, medicine management, and taking care of personal hygiene are some of the activities that a senior living in a retirement community should be able to do independently.
Those who have difficulty performing these tasks unassisted might benefit from a caretaker or additional supervision from assisted living community options. On the other hand, some independent living communities also provide assistance when needed but on a more limited basis. Laundry, housekeeping, and meal services can be included in some places.
There are also plenty of perks that come with investing in independent housing since many communities tend to provide access to dining options, sports and entertainment options, and exemplary medical care.
Is Independent Living Right for You?
To help you decide whether independent living for seniors is right for you, some factors to consider include your current ability to maintain your home, social needs, ability to access transportation, and your health requirements.
As you age, you might have difficulty keeping your home neat and tidy. Multiple bedrooms, a large backyard, and steep staircases might make cleaning more difficult to handle if you have issues with mobility. Another challenge may be increased levels of crime around your area. Lastly, costly roof repairs could add to your burdens.
Although some of these issues can be solved by installing senior-friendly features like walk-in tubs and extra lighting or hiring a housekeeper, some individuals might find that independent living for seniors offers more freedom and convenience. Many gated communities handle maintenance needs, and they eliminate the struggle of contacting people on your own.
If you live alone, loneliness and isolation can quickly set in and lead to depression and other mental health issues. The risk of this can be increased if you have poor vision and are unable to drive or have mobility issues that impact your ability to walk around your neighbourhood.
In order to remedy this, independent living for seniors options offers you the chance to create a new network of friends through fun group activities. You’ll be able to meet like-minded people your own age in a safer and more convenient location. Some places also make it easier to access mental care services, such as a therapist if you need to seek counselling.
If a bus stop is located far from your home and you aren’t comfortable with driving, it may be increasingly difficult to attend social gatherings, keep up with doctor’s appointments, and do your groceries. Although delivery options exist, there are plenty of social and economic challenges that present themselves if you lack access to convenient transport.
Independent living for seniors communities tend to offer regularly scheduled journeys and allow you to visit these places at your leisure. Many of them are also located near supermarkets, restaurants, and cinemas, making it much easier to get around.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when deciding whether to pursue an independent lifestyle is your health. If you can manage to take your medication on your own, and do basic activities such as bathing, eating, and arranging your finances, a retirement community is a good option for you.
On the other hand, if you have a health condition that is probably going to grow more severe as time passes, it may be best to consider other housing options for the elderly. This includes assisted living facilities and board and care homes or hiring a live-in caregiver to fulfil your needs.
How to Choose an Independent Living Facility
Different people will have their own unique preferences when it comes to choosing an independent living community. To help you narrow down your choices, try thinking about your current and future priorities.
Determine your expenses
On average, the cost of living in a senior housing community can cost anywhere between $1,500 to $6,500 a month. However, this figure can be influenced by your location, type of room, and the type of services that are included in your monthly contract. Depending on your budget, you may need to consider shared living options or smaller apartments instead of private cottages or seaside locations.
low-cost housing options for seniors, you may be able to qualify for an apartment in a budget housing community if you have a limited income. Additionally, you can check whether there are any special deals or payment plans you can take advantage of. Also, check whether additional fees and deposits are included in the quoted cost.
Check the safety features
As a senior living alone, security should be one of your top priorities. While most independent living communities don’t have regularly scheduled medical care, they should have some safety features in place in the event of an emergency. This can include grabbing bars and fall detection technology for seniors.
Some good signs to look out for include emergency alert systems, security staff, accessibility features around the area, and evacuation plans in case a disaster happens. Checking the proximity of nearby hospitals and clinics is also a good idea, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions that could be a cause for concern.
Evaluate the housekeeping and maintenance options
One major perk of independent housing is that cleaning services are often included or offered as part of your monthly expenses. Check whether your potential home offers regularly scheduled room cleanings, laundry services, maintenance and repair, and other convenient services that can simplify your life.
As you tour the area, also take a look at how clean public spaces are, as this often tells you a lot about the quality of service offered.
Explore the amenities on offer
If fitness, creativity, or continuing education is a special priority for you, take a look at what group or individual activities are offered by the community. While some of these may be free of charge, others may charge a monthly or per session fee so you should take this into account.
Don’t forget to look at other recreation facilities in the area that you can walk or get a short ride to, such as parks, beaches, and sports clubs.
Look at your dining options
Often, independent living communities offer three meals a day in addition to any snacks and drinks you might require. Ask staff for a menu to see what’s typically offered and check whether they offer vegetarian or vegan options if necessary. Depending on your needs, you might prefer to cook in your own apartment or have access to a buffet-style option.
You can also check whether there are any restaurants located near your community if you’d like a change of pace. Snack machines and 24/7 dining options might also be a priority if you tend to get hungry often.
Making the Transition to an Independent Lifestyle
Although there are many benefits of independent living for seniors, it can be challenging and stressful to make the transition to a new home, especially at an advanced age. To help your loved one’s move go more smoothly, here are some tips to keep in mind.
Pack well in advance
To avoid any stress, make sure that everything is ready to go before the move-out and move-in date. Help your loved one decide what to pack to their new home and which ones they can donate, sell, or give to other family members.
Ensure that all their boxes are well labelled and that they have a packing list to refer to so that they can locate any key items as fast as possible. Some seniors may have a lot of possessions to go through, so this process may take longer than expected.
Be understanding of your loved one’s emotions
Coming to terms with the move can be especially hard for seniors who have spent many years living in one home. They might be more moody or argumentative than usual as the move-in date nears.
To help them adjust, try your best to be understanding of their emotions and help them find ways to cope. This can include taking lots of pictures to remember their old home or bringing along their cherished decorations or furnishings to their new home.
Join them as they settle in their new home
Helping your loved ones unpack their belongings and get settled in their new community can make them feel more at ease. Rearrange furniture so that it feels as much like home as possible, and get any technology and smart devices set up for video calls or medical emergencies as soon as possible.
Spending the first meal together, whether it’s in the communal dining hall or in the private kitchen can also provide a greater sense of comfort and belonging.
As a senior, living independently in a thriving community can keep you healthy and happy as you age. As well as carefully researching each living option and what it has to offer, taking in-person tours can help you decide which senior living community is the best fit for you in the long run.
Have any questions? Let us know in the comments below!
Rick Pendykoski is the owner of Self Directed Retirement Plans LLC, a retirement planning company based in Goodyear, AZ. He has over three decades of experience working with investments and retirement planning, and over the last ten years has turned his focus to self-directed ira accounts and alternative investments. If you need help and guidance with traditional or alternative investments, call him today (866) 639-0066.