When we have grown to a certain age, we find that the normal routines of our day to day life can become quite challenging. Maybe getting out and trying to socialize with others of your age has become more of a chore than it used to be. If you are feeling stranded and unable to commit to your usual lifestyle, maybe it is time for you are consider a retirement home or an independent living facility. It can be overwhelming to handle the stress of relocating your life, but this can be easily done by planning ahead and ensuring that you have the time to come to terms with the change so you can fully appreciate your new home while you maintain your independence.
Targeted at aiding individuals who are 55 years of age or older, independent living is, simply put, housing locations design specifically for seniors. These housing locations can vary from the apartment-style set or even freestanding homes. These arrangements are developed to ensure that older adults are met by an environment that is not only friendlier, but more convenient. Often compact, these environments require no yard work or maintenance, as well as being independently livable. These communities offer services, activities, and amenities, as well as social events and facilities. Often with recreation centers or clubhouses on site, you are able to participate in multiple group activities such as arts and crafts, movie nights, holiday gatherings, you are even able to find information on furthering your education. Some sites even offer onsite spas, golf courses, swimming pools, tennis courts, and more.
Even though these independent facilities are aimed for the older adults who need little to no help with assistance in their daily lives and activities, many sites do not offer a nursing staff or medical care. However, you are able to hire in home care as required separately.
Commonly Used Names For Independent Living:
- Retirement communities
- Active adult communities
- Senior apartments
- Congregate care
- Senior housing
- Continuing Care Retirement Community
- Retirement homes
Different Types of Retirement and Independent Living Facilities
Ranging in cost and provided services, there are several types of independent living apartments and houses.
- Subsidized/ Low-income Senior Housing – For older adults who are in need of low-income living in the U.S., the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has subsidized senior housing complexes.
- CCRs (Continuing Care Retirement Communities – CCRs is a wonderful option from older adults who are anticipating serious health problems in the future. These communities provide care from while allowing you to remain independent, as well as nursing home care in the general location. If it becomes a hassle to maintain your independence or your health begins to affect your ability to maintain your activities, you are able to relocate from independent to assisted living. With CCRC you are able to maintain your independence for as long as possible while only having to move once.
- Retirement Communities/Homes – Often restricted to older adults 55 years of age or older, retirement communities are single-family homes, mobile homes, condominiums, townhouses, and duplexes that are grouped together for convenience in everyday living. With an option to buy, you are able to pay monthly in order to cover outside maintenance services, clubhouses, and recreational centers.
- Congregate Care or Senior Apartments – These apartment-style complexes are age restricted for older adults 55+ whose rent can include the community services. These community services are meals served, transportation, and recreation programs.
Difference of independent Living Compared to Other Senior Housing
The main difference between independent living and the other senior housing options is the amount of assistance that is offered. Older individuals that require around the clock care with eating, using the toilet, dressing, or medical assistance would find more comfort in assisted living communities. To learn more, read Senior Housing Options.
Is the right choice independent living?
As an older adult, you may find that moving will cause you more stress and less independence. However, independent living is about creating more ease in your lifestyle while you keep your independence.
At a certain point, we have to acknowledge our limitations. Especially when it comes to managing the aspects of your current home. Accepting the assistance now could help you hold on to your independence longer. If you are unsure still as to whether or not independent living is right for you, ask yourself these four questions.
- Is it easy for me to get around?
If you find it to be more difficult to drive, and you are currently residing in an area that requires you to drive in order to attend social activities, shop, and visit loved ones and friends. You may find yourself using public transportation or others in order to get around. Many independent facilities offer the social aspects of your peers, and in many cases enable you to enjoy activities.
- Am I finding it more difficult to connect with friends and loved ones?
As previously stated, many facilities provide the ability to a social life. Through various activities, clubs, and some even help with transportation if needed. When you are alone, the more isolated you become, you are increasing the risk of depression and other mental health issues. Sometimes it is due to you not being able to get out of the house, maybe it is caused by those in your life being busy with work or other commitments. Though talking on the phone and online can be helpful with this, nothing will ever replace interacting with others in person.
- Am I easily able to maintain my current home?
We find a great since of pride in managing our own home. For many individuals, they have worked their entire life for the home they live in. Many factors, however, can make that same home more of a burden than a blessing. Maybe the neighborhood isn’t safe or convenient for you anymore, maybe your location makes it hard for you to access your house so you don’t leave as often as you’d like. Maintaining rarely used spare rooms, cleaning bigger rooms, and isolation can become a burden that are only partially answered for by hiring outside help. Independent living facilities can offer more freedom, flexibility, and require less upkeep.
- How is the health of me and my spouse?
Even if the health of you or your spouse is fine now, maybe you have a condition that will make it difficult down the line. In these situations, it is best to plan for the future carefully. Can one either of you full manage the daily activities of life such as showering, washing, eating, finances, or managing your own medications and doctor visits? If only minor assistance is something that you will require in the future, then independent living may be your best option.
Independent Living and Coping With the Move
Going through a transition such as moving can be hard on anyone, and despite everything that independent facilities can offer, sometimes making the choice to relocate is difficult. You could be feeling upset that you require a little help in your day to day life, or maybe you are scared to lose the memories you have had in your home. Though you are looking forward to the social arrangements and the possibility of companionship among your peers, you could still be feeling bad for losing your home, and a neighborhood you are familiar with.
It can feel like you are giving your whole life up, which in turn will make you feel anxious or vulnerable, so it is important to acknowledge these emotions that you are experiencing. You should reach out to someone trust, sympathetic, and close to you and talk about it, or maybe share these feelings with a counselor or therapist. You are not in this by yourself, many of us with require help over the age of 60, there is nothing shameful about requiring aid.
We all experience the times of aging and change, but it is important that we recognize our past and get comfortable with the idea of moving to a new life. Moving into a facility such as these, for older adults, can create that new life full of wonderful chances, new friends, and exploring new interests.
Tips for Making the Transition Easier
Though it can feel overwhelming in the beginning, adjusting to your new home can mean meeting new neighbors, enjoying new activities, and experiencing a new chapter of life. Knowing the stress that can be created by this, there are some actions you can take to help make this move manageable to your wellness.
- Decorating – Make room for your important possessions, hang familiar pictures and portraits, maybe even paint the walls to a comforting color.
- Socialize – Though the comfort of sheltering yourself into your new home may seem to be the best option in the beginning, it helps to get out and socialize sooner. You find that your comfort will more quickly be met by participating in activities and exploring what your independent facility can offer.
- Cope Appropriately – Every individual takes on the stress of life differently, however, no matter what you are feeling it is best to remember that it will be okay. If you feel that you are taking longer than you should to come to terms, it may be beneficial to you to approach your family, friends, or a therapist with your concerns.
- Pack in Advance – Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to go through your possessions in order to know what you want to take and what you should discard. Don’t make those last minute choices that you may regret in the future.
- Don’t be ill-informed – Make sure you have no standing questions about your independent facility. Do your research thoroughly and ask questions before you move to make sure that this is the right option for you.
Choosing Independent Living Facilities
The reasons older adults chose their facilities are differing, but it is best to choose a facility that suites your lifestyle and situation. If you feel it may be difficult to cook in the future, but you enjoy doing it while able, look for a facility that offers communal meals. If you are driven by exercise, consider a facility with a gym, pool, or fitness class you can attend.
When you visit a facility, consider a few thoughts prior to making your choice:
- Accessibility – Is it comfortable to you to come and go to your facility at all times of the day. Are you able to easily travel between the outside facilities, or do you need transportation to get around? Do you find it easy to visit places you frequent such as medical facilities, library, or learning centers? Are you able to envision future changes? In your potential housing unit, do you see yourself having any issues with stairs inside or out in the future? Will ramps be needed, or able to be added? Are pets welcome if you own any?
- The People – No matter how comfortable you feel with the accommodations you are met with of your potential unit and facility, you should socialize on your visit with the residents. Find out if you would like to get to know these people more. Is the staff around the facility welcoming, and support services in a timely manner? Sit in for a meal if able and spend time interacting.
- Activities – One of the advantages to independent living facilities is the option of activities that can be presented. So when you are choosing the right facility for yourself, make sure your favorite activities are available to you, as well as finding interest in some offered activities on site.
- Community Size and Location – There are variations of sizes when it comes to independent communities, so it falls on you to make sure that you are comfortable with the one you choose. Are you wanting a larger, more active community? Would you prefer apartment-style or detached housing?
The location is also important, as many popular retirement communities in the United States are located in warmer regions such as Florida or California. However, the downside to these locations is possibly moving long distances away from family and friends.
Support for your Loved One During the Transition
Though any major move can be stressful for older adults, it can be even harder when faced with the fear of unfamiliarity. It is important to communicate and support your loved one during this transition. Make sure they know what to expect in their new living facility or retirement home.
- Be Aware of Their Feelings – There will always be some feelings of loss or uncertainty will always affect your loved one, even in the best of situations. Make sure you show empathy to their feelings, and respect them. Give them the time needed to adjust.
- Call/ Visit When You Are Able – Makes sure that after your loved one has moved to their new independent living facility, or home, that you call and visit them as much as you can. It normally takes up to 90 days to fully acclimate to a new home, so make sure that in these first three months they know that you are thinking of them and love them. Make sure that you continue to include them in family events, but encourage them to find social experiences in their neighborhood.
- Work it Through together – There may be many concerns when it comes to moving, or picking certain facilities, so make sure that you offer your support and opinion when your loved one is looking for the one that is right for them. Take their concerns seriously, and make sure they are getting the answers that they need.
- Make Sure Your Loved One is Involved – Sometimes the best way to deal with the stressors that moving is control. So make sure that when you are helping a loved one plan to move to an independent facility, you include them and let them make decisions that are vital to the move. This helps prepare them mentally for the move while reducing stress.
Costs of Retirement and Independent Living
When it comes to independent living, the average monthly costs can range from around $1,500 to $3,500 in the U.S. Make sure that as you consider independent living, you are budgeting estimated costs while accounting for medical and other expenses.
Medicare does not cover independent living costs, and though some insurance may help contribute to the cost, most people find themselves using their savings, pensions, and the sale of their possessions or previous homes to help cover these costs. Some Things to keep in mind when making these budget plans are:
- It’s best to plan ahead for subsidized housing, the waiting lists can be several years in some situations.
- Make sure that you consider the costs of initial investments and monthly fees to your new facility. Make sure you will be able to comfortably afford these as well as considering the services included and the costs to add on any services you may need in the future.
- When you consider CCRCs, it is important to know that these generally require large entrance fees. These fees cover some of the associated costs for higher levels of care. Residents then are required to pay rent monthly, which will increase with care level.
Stay Tuned for more from the caregivers at SLS Senior Living Services.