What is Independent Living?

Over the past 20 years, the face of retirement living has changed dramatically. The old “nursing home” model is being replaced by one that allows for more active aging, better facilities and customized amenities.

If you have good health, but are tiring of the day-to-day chores, a multitude of Independent Living housing residences are springing up all over North America, offering a wide range of accommodation and hospitality services such as meals and housekeeping, as required.

Independent Living residences provide seniors with a lifestyle that can often be compared with a stay in a luxury hotel. The difference is that the stay doesn’t end after a few days or weeks. Elegant décor, fine dining and regularly planned activities make this the ideal “getaway”.

Residences will often include a convenience store, library, pool, billiards room, craft room, exercise studio, lounge, and rooms for private functions. They may even have a guest suite that can be booked by residents for out-of-town visitors. Shuttle buses take those residents who don’t drive to malls or on short outings.

In physical structure and basic amenities there is often no visible difference between an Independent Living residence and an Assisted Living residence. Although they are very similar, there is a difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living.

Independent Living residences welcome retired adults who are totally capable of managing their own personal care. They do not offer the operator-provided services of Assisted Living residences  –  such as assistance with grooming, dressing, bathing or taking medications. Independent Living residents may choose, however, to purchase their own personal assistant services independent of the operator.

Independent Living housing units typically provide a combination of private living space with a lockable door, monitoring and emergency support, optional meal services, housekeeping, laundry, and social and recreational opportunities. Housing units may be large or small in scale and may include rented, owned or life-leased options.

Often a residence will offer both Assisted Living and Independent Living options. Residents with deteriorating health are candidates for Assisted Living.

Before you choose a residence, find out what will happen if you need extra assistance down the road. A resident who can no longer function without some assistance may be required to move to another facility if the one they are living in does not provide in-house assisted living care or does not allow the resident to obtain such services and still live in the facility.

For those residences that offer both Independent Living and Assisted Living, some may segregate the two types of living, which means you might have to move from an Independent Living section to an Assisted Living section in another part of the building or another part of the grounds.

The ideal situation is to stay where you are, adding the assisted living services as you need them.

Want more information about making a housing decision?

INSPIRED Senior Living magazine publisher Barbara Risto is the author of “To Move or Not To Move? – A Helpful Guide for Senior Considering Their Residential Options”.  This 128-page book can be purchased for $14.95 from the INSPIRED office at 3354 Tennyson Avenue, Victoria BC.  Or you can order it online at www.seniorlivingmag.com/product/to-move-or-not-to-move or call 250-479-4705 ext 100.  Taxes and shipping costs are extra.

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