HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Many folks approaching retirement dream of spending their new-found free time in a community of their peers, filling the days with a variety of recreational, artistic, and social activities. Others look forward to the day when they can downsize to a home or apartment with little or none of the cleaning and maintenance they have in their current home.
For these seniors, an Independent Living facility may be the perfect solution, offering both freedom and a built-in social network. But because of the lack of personal care assistance and advanced health services, this option is generally for those in good to excellent health.
Good candidates for Independent Living facilities include seniors who:
- are healthy and able to care for themselves;
- want to live independently;
- desire the security to be found in a seniors-only community;
- no longer want to maintain a house;
-prefer to live among their peers;
- can communicate with doctors and caregivers by themselves, or with the help of family or friends, but without the help of trained, onsite staff;
- have enough money to pay for the kind of home they are looking for, or else can be satisfied with subsidized housing.
If a senior needs occasional personal or medical care, they must
be able to bring in health care providers from outside the
Independent Living facilities can vary in the type of living arrangements available. Some feature apartments, others condos. Still others feature stand-along homes.
All feature common areas, but some also offer community centers, large dining areas, and recreational facilities.
Other services that may be offered could include:
- Recreational, educational, and social activities such as shopping trips and cultural outings
- Communal Meals
- Local transportation
- Exercise facilities, such as pools, saunas and exercise machines
- Beauty shops
- Activity rooms or clubhouses
- Golf courses
- Tennis and shuffleboard courts
Some communities even include full-time directors for social or recreational services, while others offer only informal activities.
Regardless of the type of Independent Living situation you choose, selecting a facility is much the same process as selecting a new home or apartment - are both the community and dwelling place right for you? Will you use the services and amenities provided, or will you be paying for something you don't want, need, or will not use?
Other issues you may want to consider include:
- Is parking convenient to your living unit, and is the parking area well lit? Will parking accommodate one vehicle or two?
- Is there a security guard or a gated entrance to the facility?
- Is public transportation available nearby?
- How close is the Independent Living community to a medical facility and/or your doctor?
- What amenities and services are provided in your monthly fee, and what cost extra?
- What community rules govern how you can decorate or make modifications to your home, apartment, or condo?
Also remember that Independent Living facilities are not
regulated the same as Nursing Homes or Assisted Living facilities.