Independent living for seniors explained

January 25, 2022

It’s getting harder to manage the stairs at home. Or you’re fed up with looking after your yard. Or you’re lonely living on your own. Or you’re just feeling stuck where you are in your life right now.

You’re thinking it might be time to consider a move.

It’s not that you’re eager to leave your current place. It holds some special memories for you. And you know that moving won’t be as easy as when you were young. Still, staying put and “aging in place” doesn’t really sound all that appealing either.

But where to move to? You’ve heard of “independent living”, but you’re not really sure what it is. It sounds about right, seeing as how you can look after yourself just fine and the real reason you’re thinking of moving is to enjoy life more.

Independent living defined

Simply put, independent living is any housing arrangement designed exclusively for older adults. It may take the form of an apartment or a townhouse or a single detached house. It’s usually designed to be friendly to aging adults, more compact, easy to get around, and free of hassles like maintenance and yard work.

Independent living services and amenities vary greatly from community to community. Lower-cost apartments may be fairly modest in what they offer, whereas higher-end communities may offer access to things like a fitness centre, onsite spa, swimming pool, or even a golf course.

Communities may also offer dining facilities and/or a meal plan, even though residents do their own cooking for the most part.

Since independent living residents need little or no assistance with day-to-day activities, medical and nursing care aren’t provided, although home help can often be purchased on an as-needed basis.

Things to consider

In order to figure out whether a particular independent living arrangement is right for you, consider the following questions:

  • Do the community’s amenities and services appeal to me?
  • Can I afford the purchase price / rent and monthly fees on my retirement income? What’s included and what’s an extra expense?
  • Are staff available on a 24-hour basis if I have an emergency?
  • If I have health issues in the future, will I need to move away from the community to seek the health and support services I might need or can I stay on the property?
  • Do I see myself being happy here?

Generally speaking, people who move to independent living are making a lifestyle choice. That said, it’s important to consider what your future needs might be as you get older. Factor that in when deciding which community is a good fit for you.

Sunset sky with outline of man with his hands in the air
Is independent living for you?

What if your adult kids aren’t on board?

But what if you have adult children who think you should reconsider your decision to move to independent living? Maybe they’re telling you things like “You’re not that old” or “You don’t need care. Why move to a retirement community? It’s not time yet.”

First of all, remember that this is your decision.

Then consider why your children may not be keen on you moving to independent living.

  • They don’t understand independent living and assume that, since it’s part of a retirement community, you’ll be paying for care you don’t need 
  • They don’t recognize how it will allow you to stay active and socially engaged
  • They don’t understand just how much of a hassle keeping up your current home has become for you    
  • They’re attached to your current home, particularly if they grew up in it, and don’t want you to let it go
  • They’re having a hard time adjusting to the fact that you’re getting older
  • They think independent living will cost too much because they haven’t properly compared it to your current living expenses or factored in the proceeds of selling your current home. They may even be concerned what impact this will have on their inheritance.

You can explain your reasons for moving to independent living, but if you feel your adult child isn’t coming around to your point of view, remind yourself that it’s not necessary to convince them. Don’t let them talk you out of your carefully-considered decision over something that – once you boil things down – is more of an issue for them than it is for you.

Save time and stress

At Tea and Toast, we know retirement communities in the Ottawa area inside and out and can find one that fits your needs, desires, and budget. Plus, we save you stress. And time. (On average, we save people 80 hours searching for a suitable retirement community.) Contact us.

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