Independent living offers a carefree lifestyle for older adults who want to enjoy retirement with ease. Senior independent living facilities provide a variety of convenient services and amenities, including prepared meals, transportation, social activities, and housekeeping.
Unlike assisted living, independent senior living doesn’t provide help with personal care, like bathing or toileting. In fact, seniors at independent living facilities are generally active, healthy, and able to live on their own, but may desire convenience and more social opportunities.
Independent living services vary from one community to the next. However, independent living facilities focus on providing hassle-free living and building community in a senior-friendly environment.
While amenities vary from one community to the next, independent living facilities may feature:
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Independent living allows older adults to pursue a more relaxed lifestyle without the responsibilities of home ownership and other daily chores. It offers convenience in a social, senior-friendly community. Adults who choose to live in an independent living retirement community are able to spend more time exploring interests and connecting with friends and loved ones. In fact, independent living offers several perks for active, retired seniors.
Household maintenance and chores can be a burden for aging adults. While some may find cooking or gardening therapeutic, other housework — such as bending over to clean floors or climbing ladders to change lightbulbs — can be time-consuming and may lead to unnecessary injuries.
Independent senior living residents don’t need to worry about lawn maintenance, home repairs, or housekeeping. Along with a wide range of amenities, these services are key benefits of independent living along with restaurant-style dining, help with errands, and transportation services.
Older adults who live on their own may not want to spend time cooking healthy, nutritious meals for one. Even those who enjoy cooking may find daily meal preparation a burden.
Independent living communities typically provide three meals each day in a common dining room. Menus are developed with senior nutritional needs in mind, and cater to different dietary restrictions. Snacks and drinks may also be offered in all-inclusive facilities.
Dining at an independent living facility can be a social experience for those who enjoy sharing good conversation over meals. It provides opportunities to catch up with friends and make meaningful connections.
However, some senior independent living apartments are equipped with full or partial kitchens for residents who enjoy cooking, want to host dinner guests, or simply prefer to have a quiet, private meal.
Nearly 13.8 million seniors age alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. While living alone doesn’t necessarily lead to loneliness, certain factors may make it more difficult for older adults to stay connected with loved ones. Chronic conditions, mobility impairment, lack of transportation, and changes in family dynamics — such as divorce or loss of loved ones — may contribute to senior isolation. Loneliness and isolation may worsen health conditions and increase the risk of cognitive decline in seniors.
Independent living provides older adults with a built-in community of people at a similar stage of life. Shared amenities and a variety of make it easy for residents to engage with others and meet new friends.
Older adults who are active and engaged tend to live happier, fuller lives. However, issues like limited mobility and lack of transportation may be barriers for aging adults who want to stay social.
An independent living lifestyle offers a variety of social activities to appeal to many tastes and preferences. Planned events focus on different aspects of wellness — physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual. Residents interested in connecting with like-minded people enjoy movie nights, fitness classes, book clubs, transportation to religious services and outings to theaters, and more.
While amenities vary from one community to the next, many residents find independent living facilities encourage seniors to stay active, healthy, and engaged without the need to go far.
Falls are a major health risk for older adults, often leading to serious head and hip injuries. In fact, nearly 3 million adults end up at emergency rooms each year because of fall injuries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Many things contribute to an increased risk of falls in seniors, including mobility impairments and home hazards. But, in some cases, it may be too costly to adapt a home to make it safe and accessible.
Independent living apartments are designed with seniors in mind. Common areas and apartment units come with accessibility features to cater to different levels of physical ability. These often include wide doorways, low thresholds, well-lit spaces, handrails, walk-in showers and tubs, and more.
Many independent living facilities also have staff available 24 hours a day to assist residents in case of an emergency. Some may offer each resident a personal emergency response device or have emergency alert systems in apartment units so seniors can get help at the push of a button.
Older adults are at increased risk of car accidents. While some independent living residents may choose to continue to drive, they may also rely on the convenience of scheduled, complimentary transportation services provided by many communities for outings, medical appointments, shopping, and other errands.
Moving to an independent living facility doesn’t mean you need to say goodbye to furry friends. Many communities allow pets. However, some may have rules and restrictions related to the types, size, and number of pets.
If you’re planning to bring a pet to live with you at an independent living community, be sure to ask about their pet policy and fees.
Many independent living retirement communities are all-inclusive. This means the monthly base rent fee covers housing, utilities, meals, and amenities. An all-inclusive independent living arrangement allows residents to spend less time managing and paying bills and more time enjoying life.
Older adults have many options when it comes to retirement living. Before choosing a community, it’s important to understand your options, assess your needs and preferences, and compare retirement community costs.
Both independent living and assisted living communities offer secure, senior-friendly housing and amenities, along with social activities, outings, and dining options. However, independent living and assisted living differ when it comes to help with personal care.
Independent living is for older adults who can perform activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and toileting, on their own. Unlike seniors in assisted living, independent living residents don’t need daily help with hygiene, medication management, or bed transfers. They are able to live independently, but prefer the convenience and sense of community offered by independent living facilities.
Active adult communities are for people 55 and older. These communities usually have age restrictions, and offer a quiet, child-free environment along with features that appeal to active adults. Amenities may include golf courses, pools, tennis courts, clubhouses, and fitness centers. Active adult communities are often located near shops, restaurants, and other attractions for convenience.
Active adult communities may be right for seniors who are interested in downsizing or who want to reduce the upkeep of their home. These communities often offer lawn and landscaping services and exterior home maintenance. However, unlike independent living facilities, active adult communities typically don’t provide services like housekeeping, laundry, meals, or transportation.
Like independent living facilities, senior apartments are designed for accessibility, with like elevators, handrails in bathrooms, and wide doorways.
In some cases, senior apartments’ rental fees may include utilities, maintenance, and security. Senior apartments are usually low-cost options for older adults who aren’t looking for luxury amenities. They offer a no-frills housing solution for seniors who want to live independently but don’t want the stress of home ownership.
Unlike independent living facilities, senior apartments typically don’t provide housekeeping, laundry, transportation, or meal services.
|Services||Assisted Living||Independent Living||Active Adult Communities||Senior Apartments|
|Exterior home maintenance||x||x||x||x|
|Accessibility and senior-friendly features and design||x||x||x||x|
|Fitness center or gym||x||x||x|
|24-hour staff to help with emergencies||x||x|
|Social activities and outings||x||x|
|Help with personal care and mobility||x|
Independent senior living is a great option for older adults who are generally healthy and active. Independent living residents don’t need medical assistance or help with personal care. However, they may be interested in living in a secure community where they can develop new connections with peers, participate in social events and outings, and enjoy the perks of maintenance-free living.
Ask yourself these questions to decide if independent living is right for you:
If you answered “yes” to most of the questions above, independent living may be right for you. Contact our Senior Living Advisors to discuss your senior living preferences and receive a list of personalized options that match your needs.
Combining independent senior living with home care may be an option for older adults who experience changes in health and care needs. In-home caregivers come to seniors’ homes to provide a variety of services that may include help with mobility, personal care, medication management, and more. Home care may allow seniors to remain in independent living and maintain their freedom while receiving the help they need.
However, it’s important to consider how much help is needed when calculating home care costs. Home care agencies typically charge by the hour and may require a minimum of several contracted hours a week. The fee is also calculated based on the types of services provided.
Continuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, are another option for older adults who anticipate needing help with personal care — like dressing, bathing, or toileting — as they age. CCRCs offer a continuum of care for seniors as their needs change. Seniors in CCRCs may start in independent living and may eventually transfer to assisted living or memory care within the same community, as their health and medical needs evolve.
While other retirement communities may also offer different levels of senior care, only those designated as CCRCs offer skilled nursing care and a variety of medical services onsite. This type of community may be a good option for couples who have different care needs.Back to top
Independent living costs vary based on many factors, including location, amenities, the types of services provided, and size of accommodations. The monthly median cost of senior independent living in the U.S. is $2,552.
Most independent living communities are all-inclusive. This means the base rent covers most amenities and services, including:
As you research potential independent living communities, it’s important to ask about extra costs, such as admission, carport, and pet fees. In some cases, independent living facilities may charge for meals or housekeeping separately.
Be sure to ask questions to thoroughly understand what your monthly rent covers. If you’re planning to live with someone, like a spouse or friend, it may cost extra. Additionally, you may have to pay separately for certain outings, haircuts, laundry, and spa services.
When choosing an independent living community, also consider:
Independent living is often more affordable than other senior living options. This is because independent living facilities don’t provide help with daily personal care or medical assistance.
Once you’ve chosen an independent living community that meets your needs and matches your lifestyle, preferences, and budget, it’s time to consider how to afford it. When it comes to financing independent living, Medicaid and Medicare aren’t options, but there are other ways to pay for retirement living.
Independent living communities come in all shapes and sizes to fit seniors’ preferences and budgets. While some may be large, resort-like communities, others might be smaller retirement homes with fewer services or amenities.
When choosing an independent living facility, start by considering:
Moving to an independent living facility can be an emotional experience. Downsizing and packing may be stressful, overwhelming, and time-consuming, and you may be dealing with liquidating assets or selling a home while planning to move.
Taking a step-by-step approach can ease anxiety and make the move smoother.
While it’s normal to feel nostalgic about moving, it’s also important to have a practical, positive outlook as you plan for your new, simplified lifestyle. Remember, downsizing means less maintenance and more freedom to enjoy life’s experiences.
If you’re stressed about moving day, plan ahead and consider finding expert assistance to help with this major transition. A senior move manager specializes in helping seniors downsize, relocate, and move. Delegating what can be an emotional task may help reduce anxiety and stress.
Start with these tips to make moving a little easier. Also, remember to:
With so many options and factors to consider, you may want help determining whether or not an independent living community is right for you. Our Senior Living Advisors can help connect you with independent living facilities in your area. These local senior living experts are available to understand your needs and expectations and help assess your financial resources to find personalized senior living options for you.Back to top
Independent living facilities offer convenient, hassle-free living in a social environment for seniors who are active, healthy, and able to live on their own.
The score shown is the overall experience rating which is an average of the reviews submitted for those communities. The overall experience rating is a star rating that ranges from 1 being the lowest to 5 being the highest.
Below are the 51 largest cities grouped by their metropolitan area.
Top states for Independent Living