What is Independent Living?
When seniors are contemplating downsizing and simplifying their lives, independent living (IL) can be a great option. The constant upkeep, unexpected repairs, HOA fees, utilities, homeowner’s insurance and property taxes of a primary residence can become overwhelming. Below are a few things to consider when exploring IL options here in Northern Arizona.
An independent living facility (also known as a community) typically consists of studio, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments with options such as a kitchenette, full kitchen, 1 or 2 bathrooms and possibly a patio or balcony. Apartments are usually unfurnished intentionally so residents can personalize their living space to make it feel home-like. Storage options are usually limited. Most communities do permit common pets such as dogs & cats provided that they have their most recent vaccinations and are licensed in the city which they reside.
An important consideration with choosing an independent living community is anticipating one’s long-term care needs. One type of independent living community is stand-alone with no care offered and another move to assisted living will be necessary.
With a stand-alone IL community (usually 55+ years of age), meals, scheduled activities/transportation and other amenities such as a fitness center may or may not be offered. Care is typically not included. However, a resident always has the option to hire a non-medical in-home care agency to provide assistance or may qualify for home health (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy or respiratory therapy) or hospice to visit under Medicare guidelines.
Another IL option is to consider an assisted living community (usually 65+ years of age with exceptions) where a resident can “age-in-place.” In other words, they can live independently and add care as needed without the need to move again. In addition to safety features such as call buttons in apartments and wireless pendants, this option typically includes 3 meals a day, utilities, free laundry rooms, scheduled activities and transportation. Again, care services can be added when needed.
From a cost standpoint, a stand-alone IL community typically requires a 12-month lease agreement with application, wait list, pet and security deposit fees. An assisted living community residency agreement is month-to-month with 30 or 60-days written notice required prior to moving out. The “base rate” includes the amenities mentioned above plus a one-time pet fee and community fee (applies towards hard costs to move in a new resident into their community).
In summary, the most important consideration with choosing an independent living community is for a potential resident to choose the safest living environment while anticipating their long-term care needs.