So what's the difference between retirement communities and independent living? First let's establish what an independent living community is not. An independent living community is not synonymous with a 55+ community or active adult retirement communities. These communities typically do not offer services and their residents are generally in their 60s-70s. In contrast, an independent living community provides services that are included in the monthly rent, with standard amenities being a meal plan,housekeeping, linen service and transportation.
As its name implies, independent living means that residents are fully independent and do not require assistance with life’s daily activities, whether it’s dressing, walking or medication management. Communities may offer only independent living services or may be part of a larger campus, such as in the case of continuing care communities, which also offer assisted living or skilled nursing services. Apartment-style living with buildings that are single to multiple storied are the norm; however, many now offer free-standing cottages that mimic homes without the burden of yard work or the annual property taxes.
The perks of joining an independent living community often mean that you have access to amenities, such as a movie theater, beauty salon or fitness center, which you wouldn’t have in your own home. Not only do these conveniences save you a trip into town, but they also foster a sense of community amongst residents because they can meet up for movie nights or exercise classes. Other amenities also found in newer communities include hobby rooms or woodshops, gardening areas and walking paths.
Because seniors in independent living communities don’t require healthcare services, their demographics aren’t tracked as closely as those living in assisted living communities or nursing homes. What is known is that seniors who call independent living communities home typically are in their late 70s-80s. With more seniors deciding to live at home before transitioning to an assisted living community, the senior living industry is trending toward building more assisted living and memory care communities rather than solely independent living communities.
To learn more about independent living, read our new, comprehensive article here; it's a one-stop article with all the information you'll need to answer your questions about which community setting is the right choice. And if you have further questions about independent living or want to find the right independent living community for yourself, simply call the number at the top of this page.