There are many different living options for seniors that are designed to keep them comfortable as they deal with the challenges of getting older. For seniors that are still in relatively good mental and physical health, there are plenty of independent living options that allow them to live on their own while still having access to the resources they need to be healthy. Your most common question may be: "how do I find independent senior living near me?" In this guide, you’ll find all the information you need to get started with independent living for seniors and will know how to locate independent living in your area.
What is independent senior living?
Independent senior living communities are housing units created specifically with seniors’ needs in mind. They function similarly to 55+ senior apartment complexes, but they do offer resources to seniors on an as-needed basis. Many independent senior living communities are connected with local nursing facilities to make for an easy transition if a resident does need more care. Seniors in independent living typically have access to dining and transportation options if they want them, and they can take advantage of medical care offered through the community as well. There are usually community events held as well that allow seniors to meet each other and enjoy fun activities together.
Is independent living a good fit for you?
Not all seniors do well in independent living situations. It’s important to assess whether or not this is the best fit for you before moving into an independent living community. Independent living is generally a good fit for seniors who aren’t struggling with major health problems, do not need to be in memory care homes, but need a comfortable space that’s designed for them. Independent living is also a good choice for seniors who want to be part of a senior community and have access to health and wellness resources when they need it, but on their own terms. Seniors in independent living situations should still be able to get around town on their own, either by driving or walking, and complete daily tasks like cleaning, cooking, and personal care with no assistance. Independent living is also a good fit for senior couples wanting to transition into a smaller, more convenient space.
What should I look for in an independent living community?
There are several important things to look for when choosing an independent living community for yourself or for a loved one. It’s important to take your time and look at multiple options before making a decision. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and conduct a thorough interview with the staff before making your final choice.
Size: The size of the community is an important factor to look at when making your decision. What size you prefer is up to you and your personal preferences. Large independent senior living communities may have more resources available, and they’re great for seniors who love to socialize and make new friends. However, they can also be very overwhelming for some people, and they are sometimes more expensive as well. Smaller independent living facilities often are able to provide more individualized services at an affordable price. However, they may not have all the same features as a larger community. You’ll also need to take into account the size of your actual senior apartment and make sure it’s appropriate for your needs. If you’re living with a partner or bringing a pet into independent living with you, your space will need to be large enough to accommodate this.
Amenities: You’ll also need to make sure the independent living apartment has the amenities you need in it. At the very least, you’ll need a kitchen with a stove, oven, and refrigerator, as well as access to laundry machines or services. You’ll also want to make sure the space has proper heating or cooling systems as needed. Additionally, you may want other amenities in the independent living community to suit your personal preferences, such as a gym, internet access included, a pool, and others.
Safety: Seniors need to make sure that the independent living communities they choose are safe to live in. There should be access to elevators and ramps as needed, and the communities should be properly lit. Additionally, the community should be in a safe area of town where seniors can feel comfortable living on their own.
Community: The community features that an independent living facility offers are a great bonus for many seniors. When searching for an appropriate facility, ask if they offer events or outings for seniors to attend, as well as community meal service as needed. Transitioning into living in a new place can be lonely, so these events can help mitigate that feeling. Additionally, it’s important to find out if seniors have the option to transition into assisted care units from their independent living facility if their health declines or they need more assistance throughout the day.
Price: The cost of the independent living facility is another important factor to take into consideration. Senior living options can be quite expensive, so you should set a budget ahead of time before making the big move. In some cases, your insurance or Medicare may cover senior living facilities, but this is less likely with independent living because fewer medical services are provided. Many independent living homes do offer financial assistance with housing for those who need it, so be sure to ask about this feature when making your selection.
Proximity to Family: Many seniors would prefer to stay close to their children and other family members even after moving into independent living. This is something that’s important to take into consideration when choosing an independent living facility. You’ll likely be surprised by how many senior living facilities are available in large metro areas, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit.
What are the benefits of independent senior living?
There are many benefits for seniors of transitioning into an independent senior living facility. There are also many benefits for seniors’ families as well. The biggest major benefit of independent senior living is convenience. Although you still are living independently, these facilities typically have amenities more conveniently available than a traditional senior apartment complex. For example, cooking and laundry facilities are usually very easily accessible and kept up-to-date, and many facilities offer optional cleaning services as well. Some independent living communities even offer transportation services to help you run errands, or are conveniently located very close to grocery stores and other places where you might frequent.
Another major benefit of independent living is that it’s easier to live a healthy lifestyle in an independent senior living facility. The housing is designed to be very safe, with no tricky stairs or low-lit hallways where you would be more likely to fall or experience an injury. Most facilities also offer easy access to healthcare through the facility, so it’s much easier to keep up with regular screenings and tests, and to go in and get treatment for small illnesses and injuries that you might have ignored living completely on your own. It also makes it easier to build a positive rapport with a doctor that you see frequently. Many independent 55 and older communities even have gyms, pools, and exercise classes available, so you can work out in the building, and you can also have access to a dining hall serving healthy meals as well. Adding gentle exercise to your routine is very important for staying healthy and preventing injuries as your body gets older.
Independent senior living is a good option for seniors’ mental health as well. The transition from working into retirement and then into a senior living facility can be very stressful, but independent senior living is designed so that seniors can still stay in control of their life and their daily activities, and they can bring the comforts of home with them. Couples can often move in together, and many facilities allow pets as well. The activities and community provided in an independent senior living facility encourages seniors to socialize, which prevents loneliness and depression.
Independent living facilities also reduce stress for seniors’ families. Many seniors rely on their younger family members to help them with healthcare and daily activities, but it can be difficult to fit caregiving into your routine while working or taking care of kids. With your older family members in an independent living facility, you can rest assured that they’re in a comfortable and safe place where they have the resources they need, and it’s easy for you to visit them as often as you desire.
What are the alternatives to independent senior living?
There are a few alternatives to independent senior living that you should be aware of when shopping around. It’s important to know the differences between each type of senior care, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each. You may find that people suggest an in-home caregiver or assistant to help your loved ones with their daily tasks. This does work for some people, but there are drawbacks. With this option, the senior has just one person to help them, and they aren’t available all the time. With independent living, seniors can choose when they need to access resources. An in-home caregiver can also be very expensive, without providing the same level of care that a senior living facility would.
Another alternative to independent senior living is to look for assisted senior living facilities near you, and many people get these two confused. Assisted senior living facilities provide complete care for their patients on a daily basis. This includes both medical care and assistance with daily tasks, such as eating, bathing, and cleaning. While this is very helpful for seniors who struggle with debilitating health conditions, it’s not always necessary for seniors who are still in relatively good health and can do most, if not all, things independently. Many local retirement homes and senior living facilities will offer you a choice between assisted services and independent living, which is a great option for many people because it allows them to switch easily from independent living to assisted living should they start to require more services.
How can I talk to my loved one about independent senior living?
Even if the senior in your life is perfectly healthy now, it’s important to start thinking about personal care options ahead of time, before you really need them. It’s helpful to talk to the senior about what options they’ll be comfortable with in the future and work out a rough plan for how to deal with these transitions. Although this can be a tough conversation to have, it’s an important one, and even if your loved one is resistant to the change at first, they’ll likely come around to it when you see how much you love them and how they can benefit from the move. Make sure to emphasize that you still want to be a large part of their life and that you really care about their well-being. Most people will see that you can’t necessarily provide them with the support they need, but an independent living facility can.
It may help to take your loved one to tour an independent living facility and see the amenities they offer. Since seniors who are good candidates for independent living are still mentally healthy, it’s important that they make the final decision about where they end up. Make sure your senior gets a chance to talk to the staff, see the independent living facilities, and ask any questions they may have. Making sure your loved one feels included is a good way to prevent any resistance they may have to the idea.
How can I find independent living near me?
There are hundreds of independent senior living facilities around the country. At SeniorLivingHelp.org, we list all senior living resources for seniors, and you can search by the area you’re interested or the type of amenities you’re looking for. You can also contact nursing homes in your area and ask if they have independent living options as well, or you can talk to housing agencies in your area to get a list of living complexes that are marketed specifically towards seniors. You’ll likely have plenty of places to choose from, so it’s important to take your time and find the senior housing option that’s the best fit for your needs. Don’t be afraid to expand your radius as well - the perfect independent living community might be in suburb or another town in your state.