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Are You Ready for Independent Living? Ask Yourself These 14 Questions

Claire Samuels
By Claire SamuelsAugust 31, 2020
Elderly woman resting on the edge of a swimming pool.

You aren’t ready to sacrifice your independent lifestyle, and you don’t need medical assistance or extra help. You may not feel ready for senior living, despite the increasing difficulty of home maintenance, chores, and transportation to activities and social events. Independent living communities are designed for aging adults who don’t need assisted living or a nursing home but are interested in a relaxing, stress-free lifestyle.

A transition to independent living can offer the support you need to pursue passions, learn new things, and spend quality time with friends and the people you love. If you desire an active lifestyle, independence, and peace of mind as you age, consider these 14 questions to see if an independent living community is the right fit for you.

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  1. Are obligations taking time away from doing what you love? Adults 65 and older who live in their own homes spend nearly three hours a day on chores like cleaning, shopping, and laundry, according to a survey by AgeWave consultants. Those same seniors spend only 30 minutes socializing, and virtually no time learning or engaging in new activities.
  1. Do you feel isolated at home? Almost 13.8 million seniors are aging alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While living alone doesn’t inevitably lead to senior loneliness, the two often go hand-in-hand. Isolation can negatively affect mental health and well-being, and may increase the risk of diseases and early mortality, research suggests. Independent living communities offer daily social opportunities without the hassle of transportation or plans.
  1. Are you ready to pursue your passions? An independent living retirement grants you the opportunity to pursue interests you didn’t have time for while working or raising a family. Inclusive activities like painting, music, and gardening allow you to rediscover old passions or find new ones.
  1. Does your house feel too big? An average home in the United States is 2,500 square feet. As an empty nester, maintaining that space can be time-consuming and expensive. Independent living offers multiple floor plans, from studio apartments to two-bedroom cottages to help you downsize.
  1. Is life feeling hectic or loud? Most independent living communities require residents to be 55+. This means no noisy children or rowdy parties in your neighborhood. Float in a splash-free pool, enjoy a quiet evening on your porch, or dine in an adults-only restaurant.
  1. Is fitness a focus? Regular exercise can help older adults stay independent and prevent health problems that come with age, according to the National Council on Aging. It recommends 30 minutes of light physical activity at least five times a week — a goal that can be difficult for seniors who aren’t motivated to exercise at home or go to classes at a senior center. Independent living communities often offer on-site gyms and classes designed for older adults. Options like water aerobics, yoga, and hiking clubs ensure there’s something everyone will enjoy.
  1. Are you worried about home emergencies or repairs? 24-hour staff makes frantically searching the Yellow Pages for a plumber a thing of the past. On-site maintenance can assist with everything from hard-to-reach light bulbs to water leaks — at no cost to you.
  1. Do you feel secure in your neighborhood and home? Independent living communities often have nightly security patrols, alarm systems, up-to-date locks, and other safety features. These added security protocols reduce the risk of burglary, and there’s no need to ask for someone to watch your house or pick up your mail when you travel.
  1. Does lawn maintenance feel tedious? The average U.S. household mows the lawn every two weeks. Over 50 years of home ownership, that’s 1,300 long afternoons of mowing. At independent living communities, maintenance staff keeps lawns and paths well-groomed. Enjoy a cold beer on your lawn chair, without any of the work!
  1. But what if you like working in the yard? One unique feature of independent living is being able to choose which parts of home maintenance you like and which you’d prefer to pass along. For example, if you enjoy yard work, but not tedious tasks like raking leaves and mowing, you can exercise your green thumb in the community garden, plant window boxes, or volunteer at a local garden club.
  1. Are you worried about accessibility? Independent living communities are designed for seniors, so there’s no need to worry about making safety modifications to fit your needs. Most communities have low thresholds, widened doorways, and elevators for upper-level homes. Grab bars, fall alert systems, and walk-in tubs are other common features.
  1. Do you want to learn and explore? Continued learning reduces the likelihood of dementia in aging adults, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Independent living communities may offer guest lectures from local professors, have weekly language lessons, or promote book clubs. Flower arranging, computer literacy, and even mechanics are other common opportunities.
  1. Are you interested in a vibrant social life? Independent living offers plenty of opportunities to relax at home or be part of a crowd. Fill your calendar with activities like happy hours, cooking classes, poker, and dance nights with friends and peers – or spend a quiet evening on the couch if you’d prefer alone time.
  1. Do you want to maintain independence and age in place? The amenities and services in independent living communities allow seniors to live life to the fullest without sacrificing their freedom. You can travel knowing your home is cared for, host friends in your new apartment, and enjoy outings to local theaters and museums without worrying about transportation. Independent living provides the resources you need to pursue and enjoy the lifestyle you want.

Sources:

National Council on Aging. “Senior Fitness and Exercise.”
https://www.ncoa.org/center-for-healthy-aging/basics-of-evidence-based-programs/physical-activity-programs-for-older-adults/

AgeWave. “5 Myths and Realities.” https://agewave.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Five-Myths-Report_FINAL.pdf

HSH. “Is Your House the Typical American Home?”
https://www.hsh.com/homeowner/average-american-home.html

Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Does Higher Learning Combat Dementia?” https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/does-higher-learning-combat-dementia

Claire Samuels
Author
Claire Samuels

Claire Samuels is a content writer at A Place for Mom. She worked with senior living communities throughout the Midwest before pivoting to writing. She’s passionate about sharing ways of living well at any age.

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