Independent living communities are meant for seniors who are healthy enough to maintain their own homes, but desire the services and social interaction afforded by communal living. This type of senior housing can also be referred to as “retirement communities,” “senior apartments,” “senior housing,” or “congregate living.” The housing usually consists of an easy to maintain house or private apartment within a community of seniors. Depending on the structure of the particular community, residents may lease or buy their living unit. Independent living communities do not offer health care. The services that may be offered in an independent living community are as follows (note: these services can vary from community to community):

•          Recreational, educational, and social activities;

•          Communal meals;

•          Reading rooms and libraries;

•          Transportation services;

•          Fitness facilities and activities;

•          Swimming pools, golf courses, tennis courts, etc.;

•          Beauty salons, barbershops, banks, etc. on site;

•          Laundry facilities and services;

•          Housekeeping services; and

•          Grounds keeping services.

An independent living community may be right for you if:

•          You are healthy enough to care for yourself and to maintain your house or apartment.

•          You are in need of a moderate amount of assistance, which can be provided by family or a home health aide.

•          You want the safety and security provided by communal living.

•          You want the socialization and companionship offered by living among your peers.

•          You want the freedom to live independently.

•          You want to stop or limit your driving and take advantage of the convenience of the amenities offered by an independent living community.

Given the variety of options available, the costs of independent living communities span a broad range. Subsidized housing is at the low end, while communities where the cost of admission is the purchase of a new home are at the high end. In the middle are communities that rent living spaces and do not otherwise require an entrance fee.

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Jackie Bedard
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Attorney, Author, and Founder of Carolina Family Estate Planning