Independent Living

Independent living communities are referred to as senior housing, senior apartments, retirement homes, and active 55+ communities. Independent living communities are designed for seniors who prefer to live independently among their peers in a secure environment with certain amenities and services available. It may be a good compromise to remaining at home but at the same time promote an independent lifestyle.

Independent living varies significantly with regards to the type and extent of supportive services that are offered. Living among peers and having certain housing features that are conducive to comfort, security and safety are inherent. Personal care services are usually not provided such as with assisted living, however it is common for meals, housekeeping, transportation, and planned social activities to be offered. Some more active retirement homes offer abundant recreational, educational and social activities which create a stimulating lifestyle.

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Senior apartment complexes, condos and senior housing communities also vary widely in size and amenities. Many offer studio, one, two and three bedroom floor plans with additional safety features such as emergency call alarms. Although most living quarters usually include a kitchen, meals may be served in a large congregate dining room restaurant style in some senior communities. In contrast, other seniors may choose to live in more typical single family homes within active age restricted 55+ communities. Some may only provide basic home maintenance services while others a vast array of amenities including exercise facilities, activity rooms, libraries, pools and spas, golf, tennis, beauty shops, and gardens. Independent Living Communities can be free standing or exist as part of Assisted Living or Continuing Care Retirement Community.

Independent living is not fully regulated by the federal government and each state sets their own licensing requirements, regulations and inspection procedures. Choosing the appropriate home is more difficult as there is very little comparison data available to base your decision upon. Initially focus on identifying most suitable location, comparing costs, renting versus owning and deciding on amenities and services. Determine whether the independent living you are considering is a component of a continuum of care on same campus including assisted living and skilled care. Otherwise relocation is necessary if an individual's health declines as a result of the need for additional care. However hiring home care assistance such as a nurse aid may resolve or at least delay the need to move to another care facility.

Rents and ownership options and costs vary according to location, size of living quarters, amenities, and services offered, but most accept private payment methods only. Renting accommodations within Senior Apartment complexes is common whereas buying detached family residences in active communities may be more customary. In some states there are programs to assist with rent and federal government subsidies enable some facilities to serve low-income individuals at reduced rates.

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