Independent Living Explained
If your loved one values his independence and isn't in need of daily care -- but perhaps is ready to stop driving, is starting to worry about his safety, or just wants more support and companionship -- an independent living community can be a great choice.
Usually apartment or condominium complexes, independent living communities generally offer on-site amenities such as beauty salons, banks, fitness programs, and communal meals. They may even have a doctor who makes regular rounds.
Independent living communities offer a solution for seniors looking to simplify their lives but who don't necessarily need the individual attention found in nursing or assisted living homes. In most communities, residents care for themselves but are able to enjoy a simplified lifestyle -- free from everyday worries and chores such as cooking, cleaning, driving, or home maintenance.
Note: If your loved one needs help with activities of daily living (getting dressed, walking, eating meals, bathing, or toileting), an assisted living community might be a better fit. Learn more about the options in Nursing Home, Independent Living, or Assisted Living? Options Explained.
While every independent living community is different, many of the leading providers feature communities that offer the following (and more):
- Chef-prepared meals made daily
- Activity and wellness coordinators that plan numerous events for the community
- Weekly housekeeping and linen service
- Local transportation services
- Suites that include kitchenettes or even full kitchens
- Live-in management and/or 24-hour security
- Chapel services
- Travel programs
- On-site barber shops and beauty salons
- Concierge service
Management staff generally keeps a watchful eye over residents, and in most communities there is 24-hour staffing and building security. In an independent living community, residents maintain their independence, living in a private suite, coming and going as they please, and making the choices that are right for them.
The cost of an independent living community is generally quite a bit less than that of assisted living or nursing homes -- and it may be less expensive than living at home. Prices range widely, depending on the size of the suite and the services offered by the community; the range is generally $1,000 to $3,000 per month.
Independent living communities are private pay. Some require an entrance fee, also called a "buy-in" fee, while others merely require a month-to-month, all-inclusive rent payment. For more information, find out How to Pay for Independent Living
To find an indepedent living community near you, search by zip code here in the Caring.com Independent Living Directory. Be sure to look for reviews of independent living communities written by other family caregivers.
Once you've narrowed your choices, take a tour so your loved one can see the amenities firsthand. Ask for a complete cost analysis with every charge detailed, and be wary of extra fees or hidden costs. Many independent living communities will also let your loved one stay as a guest for a night or two, to get a better idea of what the lifestyle really feels like.