What are the Pros and Cons of Independent Living?

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When it comes time to retire, one of the big decisions people need to make is where they are going to live. Many people choose to stay in the homes they have lived in for decades, preferring the familiarity of their surroundings and their neighborhood. Others decide to move, either to downsize and have a smaller space or to move to another location to enjoy warmer weather or to be closer to children and grandchildren. For those choosing to move, they have the option of independent living in a senior-focused community. Such a choice has both pros and cons.

Choice of Living Arrangements

Independent living offers a number of different living situations giving retirees a wide range of choices. Many communities offer individual homes and town homes, so people continue to be able to live in a free-standing structure with their own yard. Other independent living arrangements include condos or apartments for people who want less space or who want to live in a more communal setting. Such options can vary greatly in cost depending on size and the amenities offered.

Convenience

For people who move to an independent living community, one of the biggest pluses is convenience. While you are living independently, many of the everyday issues of owning a property are taken care of for you. You don’t have to worry about mowing your yard or shoveling show or trimming trees. All of that is included in a monthly fee you will pay. In many communities, the fee you pay includes maintenance on your home as well, so if you have siding that’s falling apart or broken gutters, it will be taken care of for you. Many independent living communities also include many of the costs, such as utilities in the monthly payments.

Social Opportunities

One of the biggest worries among family members of seniors is that once they retire, they won’t have enough to keep them busy, especially if they move to a new city or neighborhood where they don’t know anyone. That’s one of the biggest advantages of moving to an independent living community: a wealth of social activities.

Nearly every independent living community has organized social activities, planned either by a paid staff or by volunteers. These can include dances, movie nights, card games, field trips and any other number of activities. With studies showing that engaged seniors live longer and remain in good health longer, the opportunity for social activities is huge plus when it comes to independent living.

Ability to transition to assisted living

With people living longer these days and many people living with chronic health conditions, more and more retirement communities are offering what’s called the continuum of care. That means they build their communities with a combination of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care. People who start out in independent living in such communities may be able to sign a contract that allows them the opportunity to transition to higher levels of care as the need arises. That can provide a large level of peace of mind for the retirees and their families.

Stress of Leaving Home

For some people, leaving the home they’ve spent much of their lives in is an exciting adventure. But for many people, leaving home and moving to an independent living facility can be very stressful. In addition to the stress of moving to a new, unfamiliar place, there also could be financial stresses depending on how the sale of a home went.

Lack of On-Site Medical Care

For seniors who have serious health issues, independent living may not be the best idea. If the community is strictly independent living and doesn’t have assisted living or skilled nursing care on site, then there likely won’t be medical care available, which can be an issue for seniors with health problems.

Cost

Independent living costs more than simply living on your own because of the extras and conveniences you receive. You often pay more to live in an independent living community than you would to own a similar house or condo because the amenities you get, such as social activities and a maintenance-free home, cost money to provide. For retirees who aren’t wealthy, this can put a strain on finances and could present a financial problem if one spouse or both lives longer than expected.

Overall, independent living for retirees has many pluses and minuses, and whether it’s the right choice for a certain retired person or couple largely depends on circumstances and financial means. Consulting with a Senior Living Placement Specialist can help pull together all the factors that will affect the decision and answer all the questions about what you can expect in the way of services and cost.

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About Senior Path:
We are a professional, senior housing advisory service which provides personal attention to Seniors and their families. We employ a staff of talented, caring Advisors who have vast experience helping Seniors and their families through this transition. Our Advisors have extensive backgrounds in the Senior Care industry enabling them to understand what Seniors want and need.