If you have yet to make a decision on where to live for your senior years, it might be time to get serious about planning. Many seniors struggle with the decision between staying home and moving into an independent living community. When you are in this position, it is easy to say that you’ll be just fine where you are. However, the truth is that independent living centers have so much to offer for older adults that don’t want to be alone.
When your budget is your biggest concern, a structured environment, such as an independent living center, can help you make the most of your money. The price for some facilities is on par with renting a standalone apartment and also includes food, utilities, and activities. Depending on the amount of Social Security you receive, you may have enough to cover all or most of your monthly rent. The proceeds from selling your home can also help pay for independent living (you’ll need to account for how much of your mortgage is still outstanding).
According to Family Matters Home Care, isolation and loneliness are a significant problem for senior citizens. When you live alone, you have fewer opportunities for socialization. And while there is nothing wrong with enjoying an afternoon in solitude, there comes a point when you’ll crave human interactions. Alarmingly, isolation is also a leading trigger for depression in the elderly. At an independent living facility, you’ll never be alone unless you choose to. There are always activities and nearly around-the-clock opportunities to do things like go shopping, play cards, or even dance the night away with your contemporaries.
When you live in independent living, you can come and go as you please, have full control over your personal space, and usually have access to a vehicle. Even though you’ll get to remain self-reliant in many ways, safety is one of the top reasons to sign a lease. Independent living campuses are designed with changing abilities in mind. They often incorporate features of universal design, meaning they can accommodate a wheelchair or walker, are brightly lit to compensate for visual impairment, and have a full staff that can be there when you need them. Plus, you will never have to climb the ladder to clean the gutters again.
Independent living is not only safe and full of social opportunities, but it also offers convenience as well. If you want to go shopping, for example, there are often scheduled outings, meaning you don’t have to deal with traffic. This is especially important for older drivers, particularly if you have vision impairments.
Many independent living centers are actually continuing care retirement communities (CCRC). Of course, these are living arrangements that can change with your needs. When independent living is no longer an option but you do not want full-time, hands-on care, you can transition into assisted living, which offers a more hands-on help and few restrictions. If you begin to suffer from cognitive decline or have a significant health problem, you also have access to memory care and skilled nursing services.
Before you make a decision for or against independent living, spend an afternoon or two visiting different communities in your area. You might find one that resonates with you and meets your needs without hurting your budget. When you schedule an appointment, you will likely be given a dedicated guide who can answer any questions you have and will likely offer you a free lunch so that you can literally taste what you’d be missing if you choose to stay at home.