Is Independent Living Right for Me?

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Giving up one’s independence is a very common fear of the aging process.  Many seniors desire to live independently so that they can continue to make their own decisions about their lifestyles. The term “independent living” may mean various things based on the neighborhood and community. It may mean that there are little to no services provided – the community is just age restricted, services are available for additional fees, or services may be included in the rent or mortgage.        

It’s important to consider both what the senior wants and what the safest option is realistically. If a senior would prefer to continue to live independently in their own apartment, condominium or home, they may need to hire services to help with repairs, maintenance and cleaning. Additionally, they may need assistance with showering, cooking, shopping and other personal care needs. If so, a home care agency can help provide needed support.     

Other seniors may decide to live in an independent community. Independent living communities may also be known as retirement communities, independent senior living communities, or 55 plus communities. They offer the opportunity to live independently but are part of a community where certain home and social services are available for a fee. These services may include:

  1. Utilities and maintenance. Security, snow removal, and gardening is usually an important feature offered for a fee. These services help seniors protect their health and overall safety while helping to guarantee mobility during bad weather.
  2. Housekeeping and laundry services.  
  3. Transportation to local malls, social venues and medical appointments may be provided. This is an important service for seniors who are no longer driving or want easy access to transportation.
  4. Social programs and special events are usually an important aspect of independent living communities. Book clubs, Bingo, discussion groups, card games, lectures, art classes, and religious services are often offered. When seniors live alone, maintaining friendships and keeping up with their favorite activities is hard. This is especially true if they’re having trouble driving. Loneliness and depression can set in, and that’s an unhealthy situation for seniors. Studies have linked loneliness with memory loss, strokes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Independent living communities offer seniors a chance to prevent diseases associated with isolation. They let them socialize with like-minded people and make new friends.        
  5. Health care may or may not be offered at these communities. This is an important area to investigate when choosing an independent living community. Important questions to ask would include: Are medical services included? What do I do if I have a medical emergency? Does the community have alternative living arrangement with needed healthcare if my health changes?

Independent living communities can be an ideal living choice for seniors. It is important to visit the independent living community to see if it is the right place for you. Always ask questions of individuals who are living in the community and speak to professionals who provide services.