What is Independent Living?
Independent living communities are great options for physically active seniors and retirees who may want to downsize or no longer want the burden and upkeep of homeownership. These communities range in structure and style, like small homes, townhouses, or apartments. Individuals are able to live in a safe and secure environment with minimum assistance and enjoy services like dining, housekeeping, and laundry. For seniors who no longer drive, these communities provide transportation and often lead organized outings for shopping or entertainment. Services are designed to minimize their daily responsibilities but typically do not include any type of medical care or personal assistance.
Benefits of Independent Living
Opportunity to Make New Friends
Surrounded by peers with the same interests and lifestyle, those living in an independent living community have more opportunities to make new friends. Many of these communities focus on the amenities offered, like a golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool, onsite salon or barbershop, and restaurants, where residents can socialize.
Seniors who are retired no longer need to adhere to a strict work schedule and limited vacation time. They have more flexibility in their daily calendars to take part in social events in the community, volunteer with local charities, and dine out for leisurely meals. And seniors living in an independent community have flexible schedules, so they are more apt to take part in spontaneous gatherings and linger together socially in shared areas.
More Time to Focus on Health & Wellness
No longer having the stress or demands of working full time, many independent living seniors turn their attention to their health and mental wellness. They may start to jog again, dust off their yoga mat, or schedule a weekly golf game with friends. Independent living allows them the freedom to focus on their health and unwind after years of work, raising a family, maintaining a home, or running a business. Many seek this lifestyle to downsize and relax.
Exposure to New Hobbies & Activities
Many independent senior housing options focus on amenities that seniors can participate in, like a golf course, fitness center, or swimming pool. Many hold exercise classes, cooking demonstrations, social clubs, and interest groups where seniors can indulge in their favorite pastimes and perhaps pick up on a new activity they never had time for. Hobbies can also become ways to connect socially with others, like a book club, wine tasting, or walking group.
Differences Between Independent Living and Assisted Living
The difference between an independent living and assisted living focuses on the individuals who live in the community. Independent living offers options for active seniors over the age of 55 who are looking to simplify their lifestyle so they can travel or explore their hobbies. Assisted living communities can offer some of the same social and wellness benefits as an independent community, but the residents of an assisted living community typically need more care and assistance and may not be able to live on their own. Seniors who live in independent living communities often move into an assisted living community when their health begins to decline, or they need assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, toileting, grooming, or eating. Like independent living, assisted living communities offer private living spaces. But assisted living communities also include 24/7 care staff, medication managers, and a nurse on staff. Most independent living communities do not provide care services, but individuals can bring in outside healthcare assistance if they need limited help.
Is Independent Living Right for You or Your Loved One?
Retirees unburdened by the maintenance and investment that goes into a house have more time, money, and freedom to travel, explore their neighborhoods, indulge in hobbies, volunteer, and relax. Moving into an independent living community can provide many benefits to enjoy retirement to the fullest. How do you know if an independent community is the right fit for you, your parent or loved one?
1. You need support maintaining your house.
After retirement, your lifestyle will change. You may no longer have children living at home. You may not feel like getting up on a ladder to clean out the gutters or wash the windows. A multi-level home may have too many stairs to climb or rooms to clean. In this stage of life, you may be craving something a little simpler. The security of an independent community may also mean that you can travel more and the yardwork won’t be waiting for you when you get home, or you can snowbird for part of the year.
2. You’re having trouble connecting with friends and family.
Downsizing may make life easier and free up your time for things that are important to you—like your friends and family. Independent living allows many seniors more time and ease to travel to see family and friends when they don’t have to worry about leaving their homes empty for weeks. And independent living communities are in both cities and suburbs, many retirees will move to live closer to family so they can see each other more often.
3. You don’t feel as comfortable driving.
Vision can become limited with age, and one’s reaction time can become slower. This combination can affect how we drive or the confidence in our ability to drive. Many seniors hate to give up their keys because they feel like they are giving up their independence. An independent living community allows seniors to live alone with amenities that can truly assist them, like transportation. When seniors don’t want to be a burden on their family and friends for a ride, independent living allows them to get around, shop, get to a doctor’s appointment, and continue to live their life fully without a car.
4. Your health has changed.
Living in the family home or by yourself may no longer be appealing when you have health concerns that affect your strength and stamina. You may be overwhelmed and tired by the chores of a house. You may feel more comfortable living with peers who understand that your vision or hearing may be declining. You may want to feel the safety of having others close by in case of an emergency. This is normal with age and understandable that with changes in our health we may not want to feel alone.
At this time, Aegis Living does not offer any independent living options. We have plenty of options for assisted living or memory care. Determine if you or your loved one is a good fit for assisted living. And if you have any questions about the types of service or care that we offer in our communities, contact your local Aegis Living community director, who will be happy to answer any of your questions and give you a tour.
Additional Resources: Lake Union (Seattle)
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