Independent Living Communities

Are independent living communities the best decision for your senior loved one?
It can be stressful and frightening to think about the future of your loved one living alone, but it is also important to remember that there are many options for individualized care. One option is an independent living community.

If you are considering having your loved one live on their own, we highly recommend researching each community individually before making a final decision. Many communities offer wonderful care, but there are a few things you should know before deciding.

Some communities specialize in specific types of care or lifestyles and may not be a good fit. For example, if your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease and is still fairly independent, they will not be happy living in a community full of people with dementia who need assistance with all daily tasks.

If you visit different communities, ask to talk to the residents living there. Ask how the community is organized and if their current needs are being met. If a community does not seem to be operating properly, ask the administrator directly.

It is important to remember that you have rights as a senior loved one and can do what is best for your family. The information below will provide some insight into the different options available, but it is ultimately up to you and your loved one in this very personal decision.

Types of Independent Living Communities

There are two types of communities: those that are not assisted living facilities and those that are.

Assisted living facilities provide all or most care (including meals) and a few amenities. In some states this is the only type of community for seniors. Assisted living facilities may have the following options for care:

Private rooms with roommates, such as on an apartment-style floor or housekeeping where a staff member cleans a larger unit shared by several occupants.

Private rooms with staff, such as on an apartment-style floor or housekeeping where a staff member performs regular duties.

Lodging in a shared facility—for example, one for the elderly, with a staff person who provides care and assistance.

Flexible care—a service that allows seniors to make their own choices about when and how they want to go to bed and get up. Flexible care is common in assisted living communities but not in independent living communities.

Campuses—are campuses of rooms with a central common area. Usually called “campus life,” it offers a social environment, an inviting dining room and lots of gathering places.

The Care Options Each Community Offers

Independent living communities are ideal for seniors who care for themselves, are very independent and do not require assistance with long-distance travel or other daily tasks. They will offer many options for residents to choose from in terms of housing, diet, recreation and resident privileges.

Many independent living communities are geared toward seniors who do not want to live as independently as they used to. In these communities, residents still must pay for their care and keep track of finances, but the community offers services such as help with transportation and light housework.

Some people prefer living in an independent living community because they find that the social atmosphere is more comfortable than a small apartment or condo. The choice is ultimately up to your loved one, but you should make sure the community is the right fit for them.