Senior Independent Living
There’s a point in life when older adults want a different way of life. One that doesn’t have as many responsibilities leading to less stress. This leisurely way of life is what many people perceive as retirement done right.
People who are interested in independent living are over the age of 55 years old and can still take care of themselves well. They are healthy, active and can live safely in their home with little to no assistance.
Independent living is a different type of residential senior community. It’s for those who want to be with other seniors and enjoy interacting with them. It’s not for seniors who need help from a caregiver or nurse like in assisted living community. It’s for those who are independent.
Being independent doesn’t mean senior don’t receive any services from an independent living community. They may receive services such as:
- Interior and exterior home maintenance
- Prepared meals
- On-site activities
- Structured social gatherings
As Baby Boomers grow older, there’s been an influx of independent living communities – over 30,000 in the United States. Since there are so many to choose from, it’s important to learn as much as possible about this type of living community.
What Is an Independent Living Community?
An independent living community is for seniors who want an easier way of life in which they don’t have to worry about taking care of their homes and deal with all of the financial responsibilities of it.
Seniors in an independent living community want to focus on having fun with recreational, educational and social events.
As people get older while living in the independent setting, they may receive services that help them continue to live by themselves in a healthy and safe way. This may mean receiving prepared meals, transportation to events and appointments and help with activities of daily living (ADLs).
Independent living communities do not offer medical care to its residents.
Benefits of Independent Living for Seniors
There are many benefits of independent living:
- No Maintenance Work
Seniors no longer have to worry about mowing the lawn, landscaping, home repairs or even housekeeping. Everything is done for them, which can be huge weight lifted off their shoulders.
Socialization is one of the factors in extending longevity. Having an active social life can decrease the risk of depression and other mental health issues that can lead to isolation.
Most independent living communities are gated and have security at the entrance of the community. This significantly decreases the chances of burglaries and other crimes that many seniors are victims of in their communities.
- Easy Financial Management
Independent living communities are all-inclusive, which means you pay a lump sum a month that covers all services and bills. Seniors don’t have to worry about paying for their utilities, mortgage, and many other costs.
- Village Living
Depending on the independent living community chosen, some seniors have virtually everything the need in their area. This includes fitness centers, shops, eateries, beauty salons and more.
Independent living is a lot like living on a collage campus. The area has virtually everything you need to live a good, happy life. You can learn, socialize, and relax in your home. If you need support, it is available to a certain level, which varies between communities.
Who Should Consider Independent Living?
Anyone who answers yes to the following questions should consider independent living.
- Does spending time with seniors excite you?
- Would you like to not have to worry about taking care of the yard every week during the warmer months of the year?
- Do you want someone else to clean your home?
- Would it be nice not to budget and pay bills every month?
- Do you like to be active in your community?
- Can you live healthy and safely in your home?
- Would feeling as though you’re safe and secure in your community make you feel good?
- Would you like to move to a new home and community?
Independent living is for seniors who enjoy meeting people and spending time with them. It’s for those who don’t want to take care of maintaining their home, pay countless bills, and think about being a victim in their community. They want to be active and can be healthy and safe in their home. Most importantly, it’s for seniors who wouldn’t mind moving to a new home and community.
What You Need to Know Before Moving to a Senior Living Community
By now, most readers know whether independent living is for them. Before jumping into finding the best community in the area they want to live, it’s important to think about the following:
- Independent living communities are not for those who need a lot of support with their ADLs and health care. Nurses and doctors are not part of an independent living community providing medical care.
- While these communities provide some basic needs, they do not provide around-the-click care. Those who need help throughout the day and night to remain safe and healthy would benefit from a different type of senior living option.
- Seniors with memory impairments or dementia are not suited for independent living communities. If seniors begin to suffer from age-related medical issues, they may be asked to move out of the independent living community for a higher level of care.
Seniors who live in these types of communities can live in their own homes but simply want an easier way of life not having to take care of their homes. They’ve spent many years juggling responsibilities and in their Golden Years, they simply want to take a break from all of them and just have fun with people who are in the same life stage.
Independent Living Community Services
Seniors pay to live in the community and the services it provides residents. These services include:
- Social event planning
- On-site conveniences (barbershop, beauty salon, dry cleaning, grocery shopping)
- Home repairs
Communities may also feature amenities such as:
- Tennis courts
- Fitness centers
- Exercise classes
- Gathering room
- Card room
- Hot tub
One of the hardest parts of moving to an independent living community is choosing a community that offers all of the services AND amenities desired for the budget they can afford.
Average Cost of Independent Living
Individual living communities are not inexpensive. With everything these communities offer in services and amenities, some independent living communities can cost as much as $42,000 a year.
The cost of independent living communities varies greatly. It depends on the location mostly along with the amenities. An independent living community near the beach in Florida will be much more expensive than one in a rural area of Iowa.
An independent living community with a pool, hot tub, tennis court, fitness center, and all seniors identified above will cost much more than one that only offers a pool and home maintenance services.
The lowest cost independent living community may $12,000 a year. This includes the bare minimum and that may be perfect for some seniors. It all depends on what is desired and needed.
For seniors who want a nice place to live with moderate amenities and most support services, they should expect to pay about $27,000 a year. This is the average cost of independent living in the United States at the time of this writing, but projections in the industry suggest this average may increase significantly over the next few years.
The good news is that independent living communities seem to be the least expensive of the senior living options available. Assisted living facilities can be over $1,000 more a month compared to independent living.
Paying for Independent Living
Most seniors in the United States do not have a nest egg and retirement income that can cover the costs of independent living communities. This is why many seniors who wish to live in one will do one of the following to pay for those services.
- Use Long-Term Care Insurance
Some seniors have invested in long-term care insurance, which will pay part of the costs of independent living communities. This type of insurance is not popular, but it can be a great relief to seniors who decided to get it earlier in life.
- Life Insurance
While this isn’t why people purchase life insurance policies, some policies can be used for independent living. Usually, it means selling the policy to a third party and using the sale to pay for the costs.
- Sell Home
Many seniors will sell their home to pay for the later-life expenses. They may make enough from the sale of the home to pay for the cost of independent living for at least a few years.
- Reverse Mortgage Loans
Taking a loan out on your home is an option. This is for seniors who don’t want to sell their home to pay for their independent living.
Financial savvy people may have invested in annuities earlier in life which can come in handy when they want to pay for independent living. Money can be taken from the annuities in lump sum, monthly payments or on a schedule.
How to Find the Right Independent Living Community
It’s not easy to find the right independent living community. With so many available these days, it can be overwhelming to tour all of them and then learn about what each one offers. When you add the cost of them into the list of factors, it can make nearly anyone want to run away and hide.
The good news is that you can make the process of finding the right independent living community easier by following these steps.
Step #1: Identify where you want to live.
Step #2: Know what services you want to have in your independent living community. This includes services you may want in the future.
Tip: Keep in mind that you can always use home care agencies in your area for additional services if your independent living community doesn’t offer them.
Step #3: Decide which amenities are most important to you and which ones you wouldn’t mind not having.
Step #4: Figure out what you can afford to pay per month.
Step #5: Search for possible independent living communities and make a list of the ones that meet your criteria.
Step #6: Narrow the list of possibilities by taking out the ones that do not have as many services or amenities as others.
Step #7: Call each one on your list to schedule a tour.
Step #8: Take notes during the tour. Be sure to pay attention to how you feel while touring the community. This is where you will live, so it’s important that you feel comfortable.
Step #9: Try to talk to some of the residents. They should be friendly, welcoming and easy to talk to for you. One of the biggest benefits of independent living is socialization, so it’s important to know you’ll get along with residents.
Also, the way that residents act has a lot to do with the way they feel about the community. Those who are happy with their living situation will seem happier and friendlier than those who are not satisfied with it.
Step #10: Narrow your list down again based off first impressions and schedule second tours for the remaining ones.
After the second tours you take, it should be clear which one is best. Many times, seniors end up with two choices that they have a hard time deciding between. Take time to decide. Sleep on it. Try to envision yourself living there. Pay attention to how you feel. Go with your gut. Usually, if you take time to really feel and think about both senior living options, you’ll start to favor one over the other.
This concludes our article on independent living communities. We hope we’ve been able to give you a good idea if this type of senior living option is for you. As you start your search for the best independent living community for your needs and desires, consider browsing our directory of communities to start creating your list.
We are committed to helping seniors find their perfect senior living option. We hope you find your new home and love it.