Unlike other types of senior housing such as assisted living, nursing homes and continuing care retirement communities, there is a lesser focus on aspects of communal living at an independent living community. Things like group dining, and organized activities and clubs may be offered at some places, but it's not unusual for an independent living community to offer no group-oriented services at all.
Today there is a wide array of independent living communities for seniors to choose from. For more information on the different types communities, please see Senior Independent Living and the Many Options.
Independent Living Residents
The operative word at any independent living community is "independent." For the most part, residents are active seniors who are ambulatory and are able to complete all of the activities of daily living without assistance. Many residents still drive, are employed and maintain active lifestyles and ties to the community at large.
Applicants may be required to obtain a note from their doctor that certifies they are healthy enough to live on their own. Moving to an independent living community can be a great option for independent seniors who are considering downsizing to a residence that requires less maintenance than their current home.
Independent Living Services and Amenities
The services and amenities you will find at an independent living community will vary, but generally there are none of the support or care services that you'll find in other types of senior housing. Typical services include light housekeeping and linen service. Meal plans may also be available.
If a resident develops health problems that require either temporary or ongoing care in his or her residence, most independent living communities will allow that resident to hire caregiving help, but in most cases, that resident would be responsible for arranging and managing the care on his or her own. In addition, the community may require a formal release of liability to be executed and/or that the resident hire caregivers who are licensed and fully bonded.
Amenities are perhaps the most variable factor at independent living communities because they depend significantly on the type and location of the residence. An urban high-rise, for example, may have a concierge, banquet, exercise facilities and a modest courtyard or garden, while a campus community might offer a library, more extensive grounds with walking paths, a golf course, tennis courts and several types of recreational facilities. Of course, depending on the community, there may not be any communal areas.
Independent Living Accommodations
Independent living communities usually offer a variety of accommodations to suit individuals and couples. Studios, one-bedrooms and two-bedrooms are the most common types of living arrangements. The residences themselves are more varied and may be in the form of apartment or condominium complexes, single-family homes, cottages, townhouses and more.
Independent living communities run the gamut from budget to luxury, reflected in the accommodations, services and amenities that are offered. Price points also range widely, as there are both rental and purchase options depending on the community.
Find Independent Living Communities
Independent living is a terrific option for the active senior on the go. Browse our nationwide directory to find independent living communities across the country.
Written by senior housing writer Nikki Jong.