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5 Signs You’re Ready for Independent Living: Top Questions to Ask Yourself

18 minute readLast updated February 19, 2024
fact checkedon February 19, 2024
Written by Nirali Desai, memory care writer
Reviewed by Carrie Kirkpatrick, long-term care specialistCarrie Kirkpatrick, health care account executive at A Place for Mom, has advised families on senior care for the past 20 years.
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If you’re not ready to sacrifice your independent lifestyle and don’t need medical assistance or extra support, you may not feel ready for senior living. However, if it’s becoming increasingly difficult to keep up with home maintenance, chores, and transportation to activities and social events, independent living may be appealing to you. Independent living communities cater to aging adults who don’t require assisted living or nursing home-level care but are interested in a relaxing, stress-free lifestyle.

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A transition to independent living can provide the support you need to pursue passions, learn new skills, or spend quality time with friends and the people you love. If you’re not sure whether you’re ready for independent living, the following signs and questions can help you decide if it’s the right choice.

1. Home maintenance has become difficult to keep up with

Maintaining a clean and safe home can be challenging for anyone, but it can become especially tiring as you age. Ask yourself the following questions to see if independent living is a match for your lifestyle:

Are you exhausted from cleaning?

A good, reliable, and affordable cleaning service can be hard to come by. Independent living can eliminate this burden by offering convenient housekeeping services. Within A Place for Mom’s robust network of independent living communities, nearly 88% offer housekeeping, and approximately 75% offer laundry services.[01]

Are you worried about home emergencies or repairs?

After you’ve lived in your home for many years, maintenance issues, such as plumbing or electrical problems, tend to occur more frequently. Independent living offers on-site staff to make frantically searching for a handyman a thing of the past. The staff manage everything from hard-to-reach light bulbs to water leaks, all at no extra cost.

Does yard work feel tedious?

About 76% of Americans mow their lawn every two weeks, according to a recent survey.[02] Over 50 years of home ownership, this equates to 1,300 long afternoons of mowing. At independent living communities, the maintenance staff makes sure that lawns and paths remain well-groomed. Independent living residents can enjoy a cold beer on their lawn chair, without any of the work.

If you enjoy particular parts of yard work, many independent living communities encourage you to exercise your green thumb. Many communities feature a community garden, enabling residents to volunteer at a local gardening club. A little over 60% of A Place for Mom’s independent living partners provide raised gardening beds, helping seniors with mobility issues to garden safely.[01]

Is independent living the right fit?

Let our free assessment guide you to the best senior living options, tailored to your needs.

2. You want to be more social

Senior isolation is common across the United States. As a matter of fact, almost a quarter of U.S. seniors live alone.[03] It’s normal for seniors to feel lonely sometimes — especially when children move away or a partner has passed.

Use these questions to see whether loneliness is affecting you and how independent living may help:

Do you feel isolated at home?

While living alone doesn’t inevitably lead to senior loneliness, the two often go hand-in-hand. Isolation can negatively affect a senior’s mental health and well-being, and it may increase the risk of diseases and early mortality.[04]. Independent living communities offer daily social opportunities without the hassle of transportation or plans.

Are you interested in a vibrant social life?

Loneliness may not be the reason you want to socialize more. You may just want more opportunities to make friends or try new things. If so, independent living is ideal because it allows you to fill your calendar with fulfilling activities like happy hours, trivia nights, poker, and dance nights with friends and peers.

Nearly all independent living communities within A Place for Mom’s network offer on-site activities to engage residents.[01] However, you can also spend a quiet evening on the couch if you prefer alone time.

3. Your neighborhood or home is no longer a good fit

Over the years, you may find that the neighborhood around you has changed due to new neighbors or construction. Ask yourself the following to see if independent living may offer a better environment:

Does your house feel too big?

The average home in the United States is around 2,300 square feet.[05] If you’re an empty-nester, all that space can feel lonely, and maintaining it can be time-consuming and expensive. Independent living offers multiple floor plans, from studio apartments to two-bedroom cottages, to help you downsize and feel more comfortable.

Is life feeling hectic or loud?

As you age, you may naturally crave more peace and quiet. This can become difficult if you live next to noisy children or neighbors who throw rowdy parties. Luckily, most independent living communities require residents to be 55 or older, allowing you to float in a splash-free pool, enjoy a quiet evening on your porch, or dine in an adults-only restaurant.

Do you feel secure at home?

Living alone or becoming less mobile in a big house may make you fearful of trespassers. Of course, you can add security measures, but you may also be paranoid about forgetting to set your security system or checking your locks before bed.

Independent living eliminates this worry, because most communities have nightly security patrols, alarm systems, up-to-date locks, and other safety features. These added security protocols reduce the risk of theft and provide residents with much-needed peace of mind.

Are you worried about accessibility?

Aging often causes mobility issues that require safety modifications like stair lifts and grab bars in the home. If you’d rather not worry about these expenses and modifications, independent living communities are designed with senior’s safety and accessibility in mind. 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.

Over 90% of independent living communities in A Place for Mom’s network offer fully accessible apartments.[01]

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4. You're ready to explore new passions

As you reach retirement, you may want to pursue hobbies and interests that you didn’t have time for while working or raising a family. However, your current obligations may hinder your ability to pursue such interests.

Ask yourself these questions to see if independent living is the right fit for your interests:

Are you ready to pursue your interests?

An independent living retirement grants you the opportunity to pursue interests you may not have had time for previously. Inclusive activities like painting, music, and gardening allow you to rediscover old passions or find new ones.

Do you want to learn and explore?

Continued learning increases psychological well-being and reduces the likelihood of dementia in aging adults.[08,09] To help seniors expand their skills and knowledge, independent living communities often host guest lectures from local professors, have weekly language lessons, or promote book clubs.

Within A Place for Mom’s independent living network, approximately 77% of communities offer lifelong learning opportunities.[01] Flower arranging, computer literacy, and even mechanics are other common opportunities.

Is fitness a focus?

Regular exercise can help older adults stay independent, prevent health problems that come with age, and have a better quality of life.[06] It’s recommended for seniors to get 30 minutes of light physical activity at least five times a week.[07]

Getting enough exercise can be tough for seniors who aren’t motivated to join a gym or attend classes at a senior center. Independent living communities often offer on-site gyms and classes designed for older adults.

In A Place for Mom’s network, nearly a third of independent living communities have on-site fitness centers, and about 85% of them offer exercise classes.[01] Options like water aerobics, yoga, and hiking clubs mean there’s usually something everyone will enjoy.

5. You want to remain independent and age in place

Seniors often think they’re giving up some level of their independence when choosing independent living, but much like the name implies, these communities are built to help you maintain your independence. You can choose to do any level of cooking, cleaning, or driving as you’re able to.

Consider these questions about your level of independence and explore how independent living may assist you:

Is driving a concern?

Some seniors prefer not to drive, while others still very much enjoy it. Fortunately, independent living accommodates both. Seniors can bring their own cars with them or utilize on-site transportation services.

Within A Place for Mom’s independent living network, over 95% of communities offer parking for residents, and about 90% offer complimentary or at-cost transportation services.[01] For communities that don’t offer transportation, the concierge is happy to coordinate rides using reliable, external services.

Do you still want to cook?

You may not want to cook for each and every meal, but if you still want to cook nutritious recipes on occasion, you certainly can. Within A Place for Mom’s network, approximately 85% of independent living communities offer a full kitchen or kitchenette within resident apartments.[01] More than half of the communities also offer cooking classes or a cooking club to help residents bond and cook together.

Dining services are also available to seniors who don’t particularly enjoy cooking. Most communities offer at least two meals a day, if not three.

About 80% of independent living communities offer restaurant-style dining and nearly 70% offer room service within A Place for Mom’s network.[01] Some even offer special dietary accommodations for gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan diets.

Are you afraid that you’ll feel stuck?

Seniors can leave the community at their leisure, host friends and family, and attend community-scheduled outings. However, there’s plenty of on-site entertainment, so residents don’t have to leave the premises for everything. For example, many communities offer movie theaters, pools, libraries, salons, and barbershops as on-site amenities.

Furthermore, about 85% of independent living communities within our network schedule day trips and outings for residents.[01] A few outings could include an afternoon stroll in a park, a brunch at a local café, browsing museums, and so much more.

Do you want to travel?

Independent living allows you to take trips as you please, but it offers further reassurance to residents. When you leave your independent living apartment, your home will be taken care of by the housekeeping and maintenance staff. This means there’s no need to ask for someone to watch your house, mow your lawn, or pick up your mail.

Do you want to live with a pet?

You don’t have to worry about having to give up a furry loved one while living in an independent living community, because you can bring your beloved pet with you. Over 90% of communities within A Place for Mom’s independent living network allow residents to bring their dogs and cats to live with them.[01]

Are you worried about moving when care needs increase?

It’s common to worry about the future. You may think ahead to when independent living may not be able to meet your needs.

If you’d rather not move to a new community again, you have options with continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and senior living communities that offer multiple levels of care. These communities offer multiple levels of care on one campus — which may include independent living, assisted livingmemory care, and skilled nursing — allowing seniors to move with minimal stress, because staff help residents move from one unit to another.

Some independent living communities even coordinate with home care agencies to help seniors receive the care they need without moving. For instance, over 60% of communities within A Place for Mom’s independent living network offer contracted care to help seniors age in place.[01]

If you decide you’re ready for independent living after assessing your needs, you may be unsure how to begin the process of choosing an independent living community to call home. A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors can help you find options near you based on your budget, preferences, and needs. They can also help you compare options and answer questions you have, at no cost to your family.

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  1. A Place for Mom. (2024). A Place for Mom proprietary data.

  2. Ausel, Jacob. (2020, March 10). Older people are more likely to live alone in the U.S. than elsewhere in the world. Pew Research Center.

  3. Cacioppo, S., Grippo, A. J., London, S., Goossens, L., & Cacioppo J. T. (2016, March). Loneliness: Clinical import and interventionsPerspectives on Psychological Science.

  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2023). Physical activity guidelines for Americans midcourse report.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, April). Physical activity: Older adults.

  6. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (2021) Does higher learning combat dementia?

  7. Narushima, M., Liu, J., & Diestelkamp, N. (2018, April). Lifelong learning in active ageing discourse: Its conserving effect on wellbeing, health, and vulnerabilityAgeing and society.

Meet the Author
Nirali Desai, memory care writer

Nirali Desai is a senior copywriter at A Place for Mom specializing in memory care and life enrichment topics. Previously, she worked in marketing and social media, edited a regional senior magazine, and wrote for the American Red Cross. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.

Edited by

Merritt Whitley, senior living writer and editor

Reviewed by

Carrie Kirkpatrick, long-term care specialist

The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.

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