What is Independent Living and Is It Right For Me?


Florida Senior Consulting

Posted on

Dec 19, 2022


Florida - Southwest

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For many seniors, independent living sounds like a dream. A hassle-free, social community with engaging activities, housekeeping, home maintenance services, and meal preparation all in one place? What could be better? But if you are an active, physically independent older adult, this dream could be your reality.

What is an independent living community?

what is independent living

An independent living community refers to a variety of residential options that offer a convenient lifestyle for active, social adults while allowing for independence. These communities are usually intended for adults ages 55 and older. Often these adults are retired or have plans to retire in the near future.

Independent living communities offer a range of amenities and services, such as housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation, and home maintenance. They also usually include fitness classes, travel opportunities, educational and cultural events, and plenty of other offerings. 

Independent living community residences can consist of apartments, townhomes, or single-family houses. Different levels of amenities, services, and benefits are available in independent living communities of varying price ranges. There are over 600 independent living communities in the state of Florida.

If you are physically independent but want to live near other people of the same age with similar interests, an independent living community may be your best choice.


Types of independent living communities

retirement communities

There are 2 main types of independent living communities: retirement communities and continuing care senior housing communities (CCSHCs).

Retirement Communities

Retirement communities are intended for adults ages 55 and older who want to live independently while enjoying certain amenities. Retirement communities frequently have a swimming pool, golf course, clubhouse, tennis courts, bocce ball courts, and billiards, among other amenities. Retirement communities also usually offer a variety of opportunities for socializing, such as parties, cultural events, entertainment, and fitness classes. 

Some retirement communities offer options to lease or buy a residence. Usually, rent includes basic utilities and the use of all amenities. For those who choose to buy a residence, there are extra fees involved for maintenance and upkeep services.

Continuing Care Senior Housing Communities (CCSHC)

Also known as senior housing communities, CCSHCs offer higher levels of care along with independent living. Specifically, these communities usually also offer in-home care, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing care.

A benefit of CCSHCs is that they offer on-demand medical care if needed. They also allow seniors to transition from lower to higher care levels as needed while remaining in the same familiar community.

What are the benefits of independent living communities?

five benefits of independent living communities

There are countless advantages of moving into an independent living community. As people age, they do not want to worry about making meals, keeping up with home maintenance, and traveling far distances to see friends and family. Fortunately, independent living communities make these tasks easy. They remove the burden from seniors and allow them to live their best lives with minimal stress.

1. Independent living communities eliminate the stress of homeownership

happy senior couple

It is no secret that plenty of work is involved in owning and maintaining a home. Keeping up with bills, cleaning, handling repairs, buying groceries, running errands, preparing meals, and mowing the lawn are all necessary tasks with homeownership.

To some, these responsibilities may seem easy. However, as many people age, they often start to consider these duties stressful and inconvenient. 

Independent living communities take away the responsibilities of homeownership, allowing older adults to live a “maintenance-free” lifestyle while otherwise remaining independent.

2. Independent living communities offer numerous amenities and activities

senior fitness class

Most independent living communities offer plenty of opportunities to stay busy, social, and fit. Communities will often have a fitness center, tennis court, golf course, swimming pool, and workout classes for residents. Many independent living communities have a dining hall with freshly-prepared meals, so cooking is not necessary. They also usually have laundry and cleaning services along with transportation.

3. Independent living communities provide plenty of opportunities for socialization

happy seniors at reitrement community

There are many opportunities to socialize within independent living communities, including events, parties, shows, movies, games, and more. 

Activities such as these prevent isolation in older adults. Isolation can be highly detrimental to seniors’ mental, emotional, and physical health.

Instead, these opportunities promote wellness, reduce stress, and contribute to overall happiness for older adults. 

4. Many independent living communities have assisted living on the premises for easier transitions

Home care - Caregiver

As previously discussed, some communities – including CCSHCs – also offer higher levels of care along with independent living. This additional care can include assisted living, in-home care, memory care, and skilled nursing care.

Because of this setup, seniors can transition from lower to higher levels of care as needed while remaining in the same community. They can still enjoy the same amenities, activities, and services as before, just with additional care. This arrangement eliminates the possibility of difficult transitions and allows residents to remain in their familiar surroundings with their established social connections.

5. Independent living communities give peace of mind about safety and security

happy seniors

One final benefit of independent living communities is the safety and security measures in place. Safety is one of the main priorities of independent living communities. 

Residences in independent living communities are designed with safety in mind. Most independent living residences are single-floor with fewer steps, wide doorways and hallways, and ample lighting. Many communities also offer intercom and emergency call systems for quick access to help if needed.

In addition, most communities have a gated entry point or require visitors to sign in at the front desk to prevent trespassers. There are also usually 24/7 security cameras on the premises to discourage crime. Many communities even have their own security personnel who patrol the area and secure the entrances around the clock.

These safety and security measures give seniors and their families peace of mind about their well-being and protection. 

What is the difference between independent living and assisted living?

senior group discussion

Independent living communities are best suited for older adults of ages 55 or older who are primarily independent and in relatively healthy condition. They are intended for people looking to socialize with others, stay active, attend events, and take advantage of the amenities offered.

Some seniors like the idea of independent living but need a higher level of care. According to Forbes Health, a common way to determine the level of care someone needs is by measuring activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs include everyday tasks such as moving around, dressing, eating, grooming, and using the bathroom. 

Adults who require more help with ADLs are less eligible for independent living communities. Instead, they would be better served in assisted living communities or skilled nursing facilities to receive higher levels of care. 

Assisted living communities usually offer almost the same amenities as independent living communities, such as housekeeping, meal preparation, maintenance services, transportation, events and activities. However, assisted living also provides seniors more support with health and ADLs with trained nursing staff.

How much does independent living cost?

The average cost of independent living communities in the U.S. is between $2,000-$5,000 per month. In Florida, the average cost of independent living is about $2,500. However, this price can vary greatly depending on location, services, and amenities. Often included in this fee is housekeeping, home maintenance, utilities, a calendar of events, wellness programs, transportation, and sometimes a dining plan.

Most people pay for independent living using private funds. Still, other financial means can be used, including a bridge loan, senior line-of-credit, life settlements, Veteran benefits, or a deferred annuity with a long-term care rider.

Next steps

independent senior living

If you dream of the maintenance-free, independent living lifestyle but are not sure where to start, Florida Senior Consulting can help. 

There are over 600 independent living communities in Florida, and it can be overwhelming to explore all these options on your own.

Our senior advisors are experts in the field and will help you find the best independent living options based on your budget, interests, and preferences. We provide these consulting and placement services at no cost to you.

Call us at (941) 661-6196 or visit floridaseniorconsulting.com to get started on making your dream of independent living a reality.

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