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What Is Independent Living Near Me?
Also known as retirement communities or senior living communities, independent living is a great option for seniors who are still active and can generally manage their daily affairs without assistance (i.e., they don’t require any daily medical or personal care services). Most communities have a variety of housing and floor plan options to fit the needs of each individual or couple. They also offer a range of services and amenities to make life easier and allow seniors to trade the responsibility of maintaining a home for a lifestyle of social and leisure activities. For example, housekeeping, social activities, dining, transportation, and more.
How Does Independent Living Compare to Other Senior Care Options?
When it comes to choosing a senior care option, there are several potential solutions. Here is a brief comparison of some of the other most common senior care options:
Residential Care Homes/Board and Care Homes
Care homes — also known as board and care homes, residential care homes, or adult family homes — offer a similar level of care as assisted living facilities, but in a smaller, home-like environment. These facilities are located in residential neighborhoods and typically house between four and twelve residents. Rather than a private apartment, residents have a bedroom, access to communal living rooms, and enjoy family-style meals. Care homes also typically provide a high ratio of caregivers to residents, adding to the more family-like atmosphere.
Assisted living facilities offer a higher level of care than independent living communities. They are designed for seniors who need a greater level of supervision and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, personal hygiene, medication management, eating, and mobility. Like independent living, residents have a private living space (generally a small apartment) and enjoy access to services like housekeeping, laundry, transportation, social activities, meals, etc. The property might also include more luxurious amenities such as an on-site beauty salon, game rooms, libraries, fitness centers, etc.
Also called companion care, or non-medical home care, in-home care is an option to help a person live and age in their home for as long as they are able to safely do so. Professionally trained caregivers provide personal, non-medical care services, including helping with household chores, transportation, and companionship. Service schedules are built around the needs of the care recipient, where a caregiver might only check in on them once or twice a week, or visit daily.
Memory care facilities provide a safe and secure environment for seniors with cognitive issues such as mid-late stage dementia. Memory care facilities offer many of the same services as assisted living facilities (i.e., ADL support, meals, housekeeping, etc.), but with increased supervision and specialized features to ensure the safety and well-being of residents. This includes personalized programs and activities designed to stimulate cognitive activity, enhanced security features, and staff who are trained to address the unique needs of people with dementia.
Adult Day Care Centers
Adult day care is a non-residential care option that provides a safe, nurturing environment for seniors with physical/cognitive impairments or chronic health conditions. Trained staff assist with ADLs, help guide enrichment activities, and (if licensed to do so) medical supervision. Adult day care centers usually operate during normal business hours, Monday through Friday, although some offer additional services during evenings and weekends. Adult day care centers provide respite for family caregivers, allowing them to take a break while ensuring that their loved one still receives appropriate care.
Nursing homes (also called skilled nursing facilities) offer the highest level of care out of any senior living option and are for seniors who need 24-hour skilled medical support and supervision performed by a licensed medical provider. Some nursing homes offer long-term residential care, while others specialize in short-term rehabilitative care (such as after a hospital discharge). For example, a senior who normally lives in an independent living community might temporarily transfer to a nursing home after surgery but move back into their apartment once they recover.
|Assisted Living/Care Homes
|Assistance with ADLs
|Memory Care Services
When Is Independent Living Right for Your Loved One?
You can begin with our Senior Needs Assessment Quiz to see if an independent living community might be the right senior living option for you.
In general, older adults who choose an independent living community often do so for reasons of convenience and socialization. Independent living may be a good fit if your loved one:
- Wants to spend less time on household chores and maintenance and more time doing the things they love
- Wants to be somewhere more safe and secure than home alone
- Is looking for a more active social life filled with interesting people around their age
- Wants to maintain an active lifestyle filled with activities, clubs, and events that spark their interests
- Can safely manage their personal care needs with little to no assistance
- Wants a private residence that they can furnish and decorate however they like
- Wants to write one check a month that covers rent, meals, utilities, maintenance, transportation, and activities
Nursing homes (also called skilled nursing facilities) offer the highest level of care out of any senior living option and are for seniors who need 24-hour skilled medical support and supervision performed by a licensed medical provider. Some nursing homes offer long-term residential care, while others specialize in short-term rehabilitative care (such as after a hospital discharge). For example, a senior who normally lives in an independent living community might temporarily transfer to a nursing home after surgery but move back into their apartment once they recover.Click to start
What Level of Care Is Provided With Independent Living?
Depending on the community, independent living can include:
- Dining/meal preparation
- Social & recreational activities
- Exercise facilities
- Property maintenance
- Concierge services
The focus on independent living communities is primarily on providing lifestyle amenities rather than personal care services. However, some forms of independent living (i.e. CCRC and “independent plus”) will provide limited assistance with ADLs — though not to the same level as provided by assisted living.
Potential residents might need to complete a needs assessment before moving into an independent living community. This will help the staff determine if they can accommodate your loved one’s personal care and lifestyle needs.
How To Select an Independent Living Facility
You want to help your loved ones to find a senior living community where they will feel happy, safe, and at home. As such, here are some key questions you should be asking to help you evaluate different independent living communities:
When touring independent living communities, don’t just talk with staff in an office or show unit — explore the property. Talk to people who live there. Do they like the community, its services, and its care? Do they think it is worth the cost?
Finding the perfect independent living community near you or your loved one can feel like an overwhelming challenge. Fortunately, a local senior care advisor can provide personalized guidance throughout the entire process. They will help you tour communities, make sure that key questions get answered, and help you figure out financing solution that fits your budget.
- Is a hospital nearby?
- How far is the community from your loved one’s primary care providers?
- If applicable, how far is the community from your loved one’s place of worship?
- Is the community near amenities such as public transit, grocery stores, and other shopping, and services?
- Do they act professionally and seem eager to help?
- What hours do the administrators work?
- Is someone available to deal with issues that arise during the night?
- What housing options and floor plans are available?
- Are residences equipped with dishwashers and other appliances?
- Do residences have safety features such as nonslip floors and grip bars?
- Where are emergency exits, sprinklers, and other security and safety measures?
- Are the property’s common areas well maintained?
- Can residents get help with ADLs if necessary?
- Is housekeeping, laundry, or linen services offered? Do they cost extra?
- Is a hair salon on-site?
- What transportation services are available?
- Are there dining options within the community?
- What kind of social events does the community offer?
- Is outdoor space available for your loved one to enjoy?
- Is a common area for residents available?
- Is there an exercise facility? Do they offer fitness classes?
- Are off-site trips part of the amenities?
- Are guests welcome?
- Are pets allowed?
- What is the basic monthly fee?
- Is there a deposit or entry fee for new residents?
- How far in advance will residents be notified about cost changes?
- What is their process for handling payment issues/disputes?
- What financing options does the facility accept?
Transitioning an Aging Parent or Loved One Into Independent Living
For many seniors, it can be difficult to move out of a home they have lived in for many years and into an entirely new community. However, working with them to plan ahead can go a long way toward easing their transition into independent living. Having your loved one participate in finding the right community for their lifestyle needs will help them feel more in control of the process.
Start by openly addressing any concerns you have about their current living situation. Maybe you have noticed that they are having a hard time keeping up with home maintenance. Maybe they have been talking about how lonely they feel now that everyone has moved out. Ask them about what type of lifestyle they want to enjoy for the next five to ten years and how they want to handle their long-term safety and well-being.
Once you have introduced the topic, allow your loved ones time to process the idea of senior living before bringing it up again. Make sure to carefully listen to any initial objections and fears and work with them to find potential solutions. Transitioning into independent living is a major decision that needs to be handled with empathy and respect.
For a lot of seniors, their number one concern about moving into an independent living community is the cost. Work with them to assess their current living expenses (utilities, property taxes, rent, cable, etc.). Also, consider the market rate for any amenities or services they want to enjoy — such as a pool, cleaning service, lawn care, fitness classes, etc. Finally, look into how much it would cost to make their current residence safer for aging in place (for instance, installing grab bars in the bathroom, replacing doorknobs with levers, removing tripping hazards like door thresholds, etc). Take those totals and compare them to the average cost of local independent living communities — in many cases, an independent living community will actually get your loved one more bang for their buck.
Make sure to work with a local senior living advisor to research possible ways your loved one can pay for their independent living lifestyle. The care advisor will help walk you and your loved one through different scenarios and how they might impact your loved one’s long-term financial situation. This is a critical step for ensuring that your loved ones will have the financial resources necessary to access care as they age and their care needs change.
Also, work with your loved one to gradually downsize their household in preparation for moving into their new residence. The goal is to keep their most precious treasures — objects that have great personal meaning to them — without having to move a lot of clutter that they no longer want or need for their next phase of life. A local care advisor can provide an important outside perspective to help with this process.
Above all, be patient and keep a sense of humor throughout the entire process. Moving can be an extremely stressful experience, no matter your age. So, it might take some time for your loved one to settle in and make new friends — but soon enough, you will be hearing stories about their carefree lifestyle and the great time they are having in their new community.
How Much Does Independent Living Cost?
The cost of a specific independent living community will vary depending on many factors, such as your location, property amenities, and what services are included. However, you will generally be looking at a price range between $1,500 and $6,000 a month.
Because independent living communities generally don’t offer specialized care services such as ADL support or cognitive care, the cost is often lower than assisted living, memory care, and nursing homes. Independent living can also be a more affordable option than in-home care when you consider that the cost of an independent living community includes housing, activities, and home maintenance services.
There are many options available to help pay for an independent living lifestyle. Possible financial resources to explore include VA benefits, home equity, bridge loans, and life insurance conversions. A senior care advisor can provide guidance and resources to pay for independent living near you.
1. Home Care
Assisted living can also be a more affordable option than in-home care if more than 24 hours of in-home care is needed, especially when you consider that assisted living residents don’t have to handle expenses like property taxes, utilities, groceries, home maintenance, transportation, etc.
A common misconception many seniors have is that Medicare will help pay for assisted living. However, the services offered by assisted living facilities are classified as “custodial care” — meaning they aren’t medically necessary services performed by licensed nurses. As such, assisted living is usually not covered by Medicare.
That said, under certain circumstances, Medicare will help assisted living residents pay for in-home skilled healthcare services, but there are limitations. Coverage is limited to up to 100 days after the resident is released from hospitalization and must be performed by a licensed nurse, not a home health aide. Moreover, the service must be medically necessary to treat their condition, not just custodial care like assistance with ADLs.
Fortunately, there are other options to help finance assisted living, including VA benefits, home equity loans, life insurance conversions, long-term care insurance, and — depending on the state — Medicaid. An Assisted Living Locators® Care Advisor can provide guidance and resources for your location.
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FAQs About Independent Living Near Me
Independent living communities are age-restricted housing arrangements that offer amenities, activities, and services to make life easier for older adults.
Independent living communities are a good choice for active, older adults who need little or no assistance with ADLs or daily medical care.
Assisted living is for seniors who need regular assistance with ADLs and greater supervision to ensure their well-being and safety.
Independent living is a housing community model built around the lifestyle needs of active, older adults. In-home care is an ADL or medical support service that is provided in a senior’s home. As such, an in-home care provider can be hired to serve someone living in an independent living community.
The price of an independent living community can range below $1,500 to over $6,000 a month depending on location, care level, amenities, etc.
An Assisted Living Locators care advisor can help find an independent living community that fits lifestyle needs and your price point.
Independent living communities are intended for active seniors who don’t require daily medical or personal care services. In general, the community will provide household maintenance services such as lawn care, snow shoveling, etc.
Some communities do offer additional care services (for example, assistance with dressing, meal preparation, etc) at extra cost, but they do not provide the same level of care as an assisted living facility. Independent living communities are not licensed to provide any kind of medical service.
To start, look for independent living communities near you (or your city of interest) that are well-maintained, in a safe area, and provide the services and amenities you want. Tour available floor plans to see if they suit your needs. Check out their social calendar to see if they offer activities and events that interest you. Finally, make sure you have a clear understanding of the costs and restrictions involved. Look over their rules and carefully review any rental agreements you would have to sign.
A local care advisor can help you with the evaluation process to ensure you find a quality community where you will feel at home.