If you are checking out housing options for yourself as you get older, or for an elderly loved one, the chances are that you’ve come across the term ‘independent living community.’
It can be a little confusing to work out exactly what an independent living community is, which services it provides, and which it doesn’t! Here are some of the positive features of an independent living community.
It simplifies your life
When you move to an independent living community, you are moving into your own home. The difference is that you are not responsible for chores such as cleaning and maintenance. This means that you can spend your time doing the activities that you want to do, rather than mopping the floor for the fourth time in a week!
The maintenance cost of your home will be included within your monthly rental payment, which means that you won’t need to budget additional money to pay for ongoing maintenance, or have to worry about what happens if there is an unexpected repair.
You can also use the move into an independent living community as an opportunity to minimize your possessions if you so wish. Some studies have shown that people with fewer possessions experience lower levels of stress, and spend more of their time focused on the activities that they truly love. By getting rid of clutter, you can ensure that you are only surrounded by the items that mean the most to you, and therefore enjoy a much higher quality of life.
It focuses on wellbeing
Independent living communities have a huge focus on wellbeing. Not only is wellbeing essential for maintaining good health as you grow older, but it also just means you will enjoy your life more!
Looking after your mental health is an essential part of living a fulfilling life and ensuring longevity.
There is a strong focus on community within independent living communities (as you might have guessed from the name). You will be living in close proximity to people who are around your age and who have similar life experiences, making the chance of forging meaningful connections with other people that much greater.
Generally, independent living communities will run a lot of events designed to help you to make friends and try new activities, which makes it easier to live a life that you enjoy. However, these events are absolutely not mandatory! It’s entirely up to you whether you want to participate.
It provides support if you need it
Independent living communities will have staff on hand who are there to facilitate your life and make it as enjoyable as possible.
Generally, you will be able to get support with home maintenance, and with transport so that you can easily do the activities that you want to do.
It also provides a level of security that if you were to need help, for example as a result of a fall, you would know that there were people on hand who could make sure that you got the care that you needed.
The point to emphasize is that although there is support on hand, it’s only there if you want it. Otherwise, you will just continue to live your life independently as you always have!
The difference between independent and assisted living
Assisted living is an option usually taken up by people who need some degree of assistance with everyday life. For example, they may have a memory impairment such as dementia, which may mean that extra safety measures need to be taken to ensure their wellbeing.
The key differences between independent and assisted living are as follows:
- In an independent living space, residents will live in a private dwelling space and have access to all of the amenities that you would expect in a standard apartment, townhouse, or house. There will probably also be communal spaces where they can gather to socialize. In an assisted living space there may not be access to a full kitchen, and there may be additional security measures such as locked doors to keep residents safe. Typically, assisted living spaces are apartment blocks, whereas independent living spaces can be any type of building.
- The general idea with an independent living community is to minimize the responsibilities of the people living in them, to allow them to live independently for as long as possible. Therefore, residents will be able to access laundry, restaurant services, and get help with maintaining their home, but they won’t get any actual hands-on care day to day. Assisted living spaces are more designed for people who need hands-on care, and so are set up to provide this. They will also usually have a 24-hour on-call service, which independent living spaces won’t have.
In both independent living spaces and assisted living spaces there will likely be regular social events and entertainment in order to keep residents’ lives as full as possible.
The exact amenities that are available will depend on which independent living community you choose to live in, so it’s a good idea to search for independent living near me to see what you can access.
However, you could generally expect to find:
- Access to healthcare: the amount of healthcare that you need can be reviewed and changed at any time. For example, if you needed rehabilitation after illness or an injury, you could receive this within the complex before returning to your own home.
- Daily social activities: this is generally the reason most people want to live in an independent living community. A lot of seniors find that they grow increasingly isolated as they become less able to travel and visit friends and family, and so the idea of living within a community is very appealing.
- 24-hour security.
- Exercise and fitness facilities: exercise is crucial to maintaining your health and wellbeing, and a good independent living community will make it easy for you to access exercise and fitness that you enjoy.
- Dining-out options: of course, your home will be fitted out to allow you to cook for yourself whenever you want, but independent living communities will also provide the opportunity for you to eat out with friends for those occasions when cooking doesn’t seem very appealing!