What You Need to Know About… Independent Living

You recently took an assessment to determine the level of care you may need from a senior living community. Your test results show that you qualify for independent living. This report will go into some detail as to just what that phrase “independent living” means, what it means for you, and what you should be looking for in any senior living community in your immediate future.

What Does the Label Independent Living Mean?

Independent living, on its face, is pretty self-explanatory. It is the least restrictive and assistive option for senior living. You are still physically and mentally capable of taking care of yourself. The skills needed for most daily life tasks are within your abilities. You can care for yourself, your home, and your needs independently, without help or assistance from outside sources.

That doesn’t mean you want to continue to do all those things, only that you can. And that’s another part of independent living – you can make intelligent, informed choices about how you CHOOSE to live your life. You are firmly in control, even when you allow others to take some part of the responsibility for your daily lifestyle and personal care. You are free to choose what’s best for you, and how you want to live.

What Does Independent Living Mean for YOU?

Independent living means you have choices and control in your life. You can choose to utilize housekeeping and meal services. Transportation and laundry services are also yours to use as you see fit. And the programs and activities you participate in are, again, completely up to you.

You also have some say over your living space – furniture and other décor, overnight guests, parties, and private social gatherings, food and alcohol consumption – all yours to control. You may even have some outdoor space that is yours to care for. Your kingdom may be smaller, but it is still yours to command.

Independent living choices also mean you can give up other “unwanted” tasks, like most yard work and home maintenance. Like spending evenings and weekends alone, or with just your spouse. Like driving in all weather for appointments or errands. And you can give up some of those housekeeping chores we mentioned – laundry, cleaning, cooking. You make the decisions as to what and who you will include in your life, and what you won’t.

What Does Independent Living Mean for Your Ideal Senior Living Community

Independent living communities exist in many forms. Some are simply restricted to and composed of residents aged 55 and up. Some are made up of individual condos, townhomes, or apartments. You may find your neighbors are permanent residents, or seasonal “snowbirds” escaping winter’s cold or summer’s heat.

Just as their look and feel vary, so do the services and amenities provided to their residents. Independent living communities can offer residents restaurant-style dining, where you can choose your meals. Or they may have only a communal dining hall, where several choices are on hand at each meal. Transportation and housekeeping services are typically provided but may have to be scheduled in advance, instead of on-call or daily availability. Exercise facilities, pools, and fitness classes may be available as well and may have restricted hours of operations. Lastly, organized social events and group activities depend greatly on the make-up of the community’s residents, as well as the staff and location of the community.

Most communities do provide some level of safety and security. Alarm and monitoring systems in individual homes or units are usually standard in independent living communities, for the overall safety of the community at large. Security personnel may be onsite at all times, especially if the community is comprised of a larger geographical area like a townhouse complex or “tower block”. The safety and peace of mind of all their residents and guests is usually a hallmark of a quality senior living community, regardless of the level of care, and independent living communities are no different from the rest in that respect.

Choosing the Right Senior Living Community for You

When choosing a senior living community as an independent senior, the emphasis is on CHOOSING and CHOICE. You are free to choose the community that best meets your financial, social, and personal needs. Don’t want to be bothered with housework and chores anymore? Make communities that offer those services a priority.  Desire an active, busy social life? Narrow your focus to those communities which offer vibrant, lively opportunities to meet and spend time with your fellow residents and peers. Are you a foodie with a discerning palate? Sounds like you need to consider the meal services and dining options available and make your choices based on them.

Our advice to you is to determine WHICH of the options and amenities available to you are most important and then explore senior living communities which offer those to make the best choice you can. After all, you are still an independent, free-thinking senior simply looking for a better, simpler, more enjoyable way of life 🙂

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