What is Independent Living

May 30, 2024


The term independent living refers to a residential community for baby boomers and seniors that provides the privacy of a residential townhouse, apartment, or condo, together with the right to use the community's services. This form of senior living offers the freedom to live independently with access to amenities, including housekeeping, maintenance, prepared meals, recreation facilities, fitness, and healthcare services. 

What Is the Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living?

Seniors in an independent living community are largely self-sufficient, with no need for constant daily care and support. Conversely, those in assisted living communities may require assistance with activities of daily living (ADL). This typically includes help with dressing, bathing, taking medication, and meal preparation.

Assisted living communities usually have apartments built around a central community area. Meals are provided and nursing staff and caregivers are on hand 24/7. Some assisted living communities also offer memory care. 

What Is an Independent Living Community?

An independent living community is for baby boomers and seniors over a certain age, typically 55 or 62 years, looking for increased security and support. These senior living facilities provide the same privacy as a private house, with benefits such as on-site amenities and 24-hour security. 

Residents live in residences with one or more bedrooms and bathrooms, a living and dining area, a kitchen, sometimes a den, and parking spaces for their vehicles. Residences may be individual townhouses or apartments in multistory buildings spread over a large campus. Recreation facilities are aimed at wellness, keeping fit, hobbies, outdoor activities, and restaurant-style dining. There's often a strong focus on social activities. 

Types of Independent Living Communities

There are four principal types of independent living communities, each catering to different needs:

Independent Living Communities

These usually consist of one or more apartment buildings arranged around a small campus. You may have a choice between studio apartments and one- or two-bedroom apartments. An all-inclusive monthly fee covers the rental, utilities, and up to three daily meals. Communities typically have an active social activities calendar, and the facility often provides housekeeping services and transportation.

Senior Housing Apartments

Also known as congregate care housing, senior housing is an independent living arrangement where residents have their own apartments but share common dining rooms and kitchen facilities. Residents share duties such as cooking, while the monthly fee covers the cost of facility maintenance and cleaning. While offering limited services, monthly rentals are significantly lower than other forms of independent living and buildings are usually disability friendly.

Retirement Communities

With a wider range of living options, retirement communities often include standalone houses, townhouses, and apartments spread out over a large campus. These communities often have full-time medical and security staff and may offer a wide range of events, including social, educational, wellness, fitness, and sporting activities. The monthly service fee in a retirement community is generally higher to cover the costs of the additional services.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)

CCRCs are independent living communities that also provide continuing care as your needs change. More commonly called Life Plan Communities, they provide tiered levels of care, which can include assisted living, memory care, and nursing home care. Structured like retirement communities, Life Plan Communities offer a rich combination of amenities for independent living including restaurant meals, social clubs, sporting activities, and transportation. 

Amenities Independent Living Communities Offer

Amenities are an important consideration as they enhance the independent living experience and quality of life. Common amenities include:

  • Dining: Most communities have a meal plan that provides a set amount of dining allowance per month or a set number of meals per a month, some in a restaurant setting and others in a less formal dining room setting. Upmarket communities may offer a choice of restaurants, cocktail bars, and entertainment venues.
  • Social activities: Most retirement and Life Plan Communities have an extensive activities and events calendar for residents. Facilities may include wood shops, art studios, activities rooms, and organized entertainment. More luxurious communities may incorporate sports facilities like bocce ball courts, putting greens, and tennis or pickleball courts
  • Fitness: Personal fitness is a significant aspect of a healthy and active lifestyle. Many communities have fitness and wellness centers, yoga studios, swimming pools, and walking trails.
  • Housekeeping services: Many communities offer housekeeping services that free residents from mundane household chores.
  • Maintenance: Communities are responsible for external maintenance and home repairs.
  • Transportation: Independent living communities often provide complimentary or paid transportation services to take boomers and seniors to medical appointments, on outings, and shopping trips.
  • Personal care services: Some independent living communities may offer personal care services for residents who need help with daily chores, laundry, packing groceries, dressing, and bed making.
  • Healthcare services: Numerous communities offer on-site healthcare services, such as regular medical checkups, healthcare monitoring, medication management, and emergency medical support.

Who Should Consider Independent Living

Independent living is ideal for baby boomers and seniors who are still independent and active and want a simple, relaxed lifestyle with ready access to amenities. Southwest Florida is an ideal location with its mild winters, warm seas, and semi-tropical climate. Other points to consider include the type of community, residential options, dining facilities, recreation, and healthcare needs. Another factor to weigh up is the availability of other care options, such as assisted living and memory care, should they become necessary. 

How Much Does Independent Living Cost?

The cost of independent living in Southwest Florida largely depends on the community and amenities offered. Independent living communities and senior housing communities where residents pay a monthly rental often have the lowest initial fees but require out of pocket expenses for many of the services including healthcare. In retirement communities, you can often buy or rent a home or apartment with an added monthly fee for services and amenities. 

Continuing Care Retirement Communities are slightly more expensive, but usually offer premium services and amenities including healthcare. You will need to pay a one-time entry fee, and there's a monthly fee to cover the cost of services and amenities. You may be able to offset a portion of the fees as a tax deduction. In some instances, long-term care insurance may also contribute towards living costs. 

Independent Living Solutions at Moorings Park Communities

The three Moorings Park Communities in Naples, FL, are non-profit Life Plan Communities offering luxurious accommodations, upscale dining, and comprehensive recreational and healthcare amenities for active living. As CCRCs, they provide continuing care as you age, with high-quality healthcare available around the clock. To learn more, click here for an information kit or schedule a tour to discover whether Moorings Park Communities is right for you.

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