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What is Independent Living at a Retirement Community?

senior woman getting ready

For anyone who’s ever done any internet research on the benefits of independent living at a retirement community — and that might include you — the results can be quite plentiful and varied. But “plentiful” and “varied”aren’t exactly the results you’re looking for.

You’ve got questions, and lots of them. What you really need are clear, straight-to-the-point, easy-to-understand answers that help clear up confusion and point you in the right direction.

Fortunately, you’ve landed in the right place — we’re answering some very common questions you might have about independent living at a retirement community. And we’re answering them with clear, straight-to-the-point, easy-to-understand answers.

What is a Retirement Community?

A retirement community, or senior living community, is a bit of a catch-all term for a community that provides some sort of housing and caters to the unique needs and wants of older adults. Usually the community has a minimum resident age requirement of 55 years old.

  • The community may have some services and amenities that appeal to seniors. Those services may — or may not — include housekeeping, laundry, a maintenance-free lifestyle, security and scheduled transportation.
  • The amenities may — or may not — include  dining options, scheduled social activities or a monthly calendar of social opportunities, an environment that emphasizes physical, emotional and spiritual wellness, and possibly continued learning or educational opportunities.
  • The community may — or may not — offer other levels of care, such as assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care.
  • Residents may — or may not — need to repeatedly move from one retirement community setting to another as their health needs change.

How Does a Retirement Community Differ from a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC)?

Notice in the above description of a retirement community, there are a few “may or may not” qualifiers. That’s because it’s hard to find any two retirement communities that are exactly alike in housing, services, amenities or higher levels of care they offer.

A Continuing Care Retirement Community, or CCRC, is a type of retirement community. It’s a senior living option where older adults can age in place, or stay in the same place through each phase of their aging process.

At a CCRC, seniors can typically move into independent living while they’re young and healthy enough to enjoy the maintenance-free lifestyle and services and amenities like multiple dining options, wellness activities, social activities, a robust social calendar and continuing education opportunities.

If older adults eventually need care, they can move from independent living into assisted living, skilled nursing or memory care, which may or may not be on the CCRC’s campus.

What is Independent Living?

Independent living is for older adults who are able to live perfectly fine on their own with no assistance needed from someone else. Seniors choose this level of living because they want the remarkable services and amenities independent living communities offer that make their daily lives more enjoyable, rewarding and hassle-free.

What Are These Independent Living Services and Amenities You Mention?

We listed many of them already, but here are some amenities you might find:

  • Restaurant-style dining, multiple dining venues, an executive chef and on-site dietitian
  • A fitness center with classes and trained instructors
  • A chapel, a full-time chaplain and Bible-study groups
  • Tailored wellness programs
  • Beautifully landscaped grounds and walking paths
  • A pet-friendly community with a dog run
  • Enriching social and educational opportunities
  • A resident-run convenience store
  • A beauty and barber shop
  • A putting green and shuffleboard

And here are a sampling of services:

  • Stacked washer and dryer in residences, with personal laundry service available
  • Housekeeping
  • Scheduled transportation
  • Self-controlled heating and air conditioning
  • All utilities included (except phone and cable TV)
  • On-site physician services
  • On-site therapy services
  • Guest accommodations

What Are the Benefits of an Independent Living Community?

Consider the time savings of no longer worrying about home maintenance; mowing and leaf-raking, or snow removal; grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning the kitchen and doing dishes; cleaning the house or doing laundry.

Then consider what you could be enjoying with all that extra time. You could be pursuing a new hobby or rekindling an old one. Or you could be improving your physical, emotional or spiritual health. You could be participating in any number of daily activities on the fully packed monthly activity calendar. Or you could enjoy more traveling, thanks to the freedom of a lock-and-leave lifestyle that a secure community provides you.

And we should mention possibly the biggest benefit of an independent living community: the socialization opportunities. You’ll have friendly, interesting neighbors just outside your door who probably share many of your life experiences, hobbies and passion for enjoying life to the fullest.

When Should I Move Into an Independent Living Community?

There’s really no universal “right” time to move into an independent living community. It truly varies from person to person. But most current residents of any independent living community will tell you to move while you’re healthy enough to enjoy it. Some older adults move a bit too late, when they’re growing more frail and close to needing care. Unfortunately, they’re increasingly unable to enjoy all the services, amenities, programs and community outings that make independent living so enjoyable. Many independent living residents will tell you they wish they’d moved sooner for these very reasons.

Is an Independent Living Community a Good Choice for Singles or Couples?

Yes, it’s a great choice for both singles and couples! That’s because single older adults can easily meet and make new single friends and acquaintances at an independent living community, while couples can enjoy meeting other people who share their interests as couples. Communities often host mixers and social events where everyone — singles and couples alike — can mix and mingle. And everyone can feel comfortable because, in a community where everyone is 55 or older, they share many of the same life experiences and generational memories.

If I Live in Hackettstown, NJ, What Independent Living Community Should I Check Out?

If independent living sounds like something you’d be interested in, learn more about The House of the Good Shepherd. It’s a premier senior living community set on 15 acres of riverside woodlands, with independent living and additional levels of care, right on campus. We’d be happy to tell you more when you contact us today.

If you’d rather, make plans to attend an upcoming special event on campus. It’s a wonderful way to get to know the community and get a sense for the community’s friendly residents, cheerful staff and warm hospitality. We look forward to welcoming you here!