What Types of Independent Living Communities are There?
Learn about the different types of Independent Living options such as Retirement Homes, Aging in Place, Age Restricted Communities, Continuing Care Retirement Communities, and Senior Apartments. Plus, the requirements to join and potential community regulations.
When it is time to enjoy your retirement years, your initial thought may be to find some extra help with chores and tasks around your home that you no longer want to do yourself. Because you want to spend your newfound freedom doing the things that spark your joy and pique your interests, such as a favorite hobby or more time with friends and family, you or your loved one may begin searching for an Independent Living Community.
Independent Living Communities will take care of all those tedious or time-consuming responsibilities, so you can do more of what you want. A caring, helpful staff will care for the housekeeping, laundry, yard work, shoveling the snow, and more. Deciding to move to an Independent Living Community can seem like an easy decision, but understanding the different types of communities is essential in your decision-making process since communities offer vastly different services and levels of care. This article will explore the different types of Independent Living options, the requirements to join, and potential community regulations.
What Are Independent Living Communities?
Before you can select an Independent Community, it’s important to understand what they are and what they offer.
Retirement Homes or Retirement Communities
In Retirement Communities, you or your loved one will move into a private home or apartment in an active community while receiving help with keeping your residence clean and safe. There is ample time and freedom for activities and events, opportunities to make new friends, and the opportunity to focus on a project or activity you may not have previously had time to enjoy completing. You may also find that this type of Independent Living Community has various restaurant-style dining options and meal plans so you can take shopping and cooking off your to-do list. Additional features may include transportation options and amenities like fitness centers, a theater, or game rooms. Some Retirement Communities will offer access to 24-hour emergency care. However, the emphasis is on a more leisurely, maintenance-free lifestyle and less on care.
Age-Restricted Communities will require at least one resident to be a certain age, typically 55 years or older, but sometimes 62 or older. Like a Retirement Community, you or your loved one are moving there for the lifestyle that the community promotes, rather than primarily for health care services. Generally operated through a homeowner or condominium association (HOA), Age-Restricted Communities offer a variety of amenities to residents – from private golf courses to bingo nights – with restrictions on the age of residents that live full-time in the community.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)
Continuing Care Retirement Communities, sometimes called Life Plan Communities, are umbrella communities that provide seniors with a full range of lifestyle and health care options at a single location. These include Independent Living, Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Care. CCRCs eliminate the need for moving to different facilities as health conditions change over time. They give seniors the freedom to enjoy an active, social lifestyle, with peace of mind that onsite medical care and long-term care options are always available if and when needed. While these communities are a good fit in certain circumstances, others may choose communities by care type to receive a better value and quality of care when it is necessary to transition from Independent Living.
Senior apartments, also referred to as congregate care or shared senior housing, may include one- or two-bedroom apartments with full kitchens and bathrooms for seniors to live in. Older adults aged 55+ and 62+ can choose to live in these disability-accessible accommodations that offer private rooms and shared communal spaces. Additionally, senior apartments may provide amenities like recreational programs, transportation, and more. While there are times where this type of location may seem like the more affordable option, these locations are often income-based. Additionally, it’s important to know that services will be limited compared to Retirement Communities or those that offer easier access to quality programming, dining, and care.
If you are curious about the other services and amenities in Independent Living Communities, check out our next article “What Services and Activities Does Independent Living Provide?”
Independent Living Community Requirements
As mentioned, many communities will have a minimum age requirement. Most Independent Living Communities require residents to be over 55 years old, while others start at 62 years.
Another eligibility requirement is what types of care services you or your loved one need. If extra assistance with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) is required, communities like Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing may be better suited. Lastly, you will want to consider costs and whether you or your loved one qualifies for low-income housing. Every state will have varying requirements for low-income housing eligibility that may include maximum income and assets.
Are Independent Living Communities Regulated?
Independent Living Facilities must have the appropriate licenses required, given, and determined by the state. Typically, these licenses are focused on the nursing center, support staff, and the food service provided. Some Independent Living Facilities, such as CCRCs, are regulated more than others because they offer more medical care. Each state will have an inspection team, including public health officials, nurses, sanitarians, and social workers, that make semiannual or annual facility inspections.
However, depending on the state and the services provided by an Independent Living Community, a community may not be regulated. It is best to check with your state regulations for more details.
Find an Independent Living Community Near You
Independent Living is an excellent fit for those who intend to enjoy retirement in a more relaxed, maintenance-free lifestyle. We invite you to learn more about your Independent Living options. Referah is here to assist with your search and make it easy to find a community that fits your idea of “home.” Begin your search for a local Independent Living Community today!