Independent living is almost always a good idea, but you don’t need to take our word for it, nowadays there are hundreds of apps, articles, and calculators to determine if independent living is right for you. It’s a common misconception among seniors that independent living is more expensive than owning a home – especially when you factor in all the costs (utilities, cable, internet, and annual maintenance).
With that in mind, here are 5 reasons why independent living is a good idea.
1. Combat Senior Depression
Moving into an independent living community puts you among your peers instead of alone at home. For many seniors (widows, widowers, and even some couples), living at home becomes a place of loneliness. Perhaps they’ve lived there long enough to watch their children move out, their friends move on, and neighbors leave. Some people become “stuck” and since living at home is usually privileged over the stereotype of senior housing, many fear moving.
This can lead to loneliness and depression where negative thoughts grow to extremes, but they think it’s a natural part of aging. It’s not. Depression is a condition that is widely misunderstood and especially by people who don’t suffer from it. David Foster Wallace famously wrote about it in his novel Infinite Jest and it helps people without depression empathize with those that do:
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”
Depression is devastating; terrifying. And if your loved one suffers from depression, you can feel helpless, unable to provide the comfort they need. Moving into independent living can help ward off these fears, treat these conditions and thoughts. Often times, what someone suffering depression needs is socialization – it’s true of the oldest living people.
2. Save Costs
We already mentioned this above, but it’s worth pointing out again. Moving into independent living can help save costs, which helps eliminate stress. How often are we riddled with gray hairs thinking about our finances? Most independent living communities have someone on site who will help figure out a payment plan to ensure that you live through a long lifespan (and healthspan).
We save for retirement for decades and although it’s generous to leave something for the kids, it’s also important that you live the life you want! The routine of saving is good to have early on, but once you’re older, you need to take risks, make some expenses. Take those international trips, refurbish that boat, become an investor in startups. It will keep you young!
3. Safety & Security
Now, a lot of independent living communities offer secure campuses, where not just anyone can saunter into your neighborhood (thus preventing thieves, hoodlums, and ding-dong ditchers), but moreover these communities offer household safety.
Your personal home (before moving) has likely received some wear and tear over the years, not just from your kids, but your grandkids. It’s a safe bet that the hand rail to go upstairs is a great deal wobblier than when you first moved in. For many people, these are “eventual fixes”; things they’ll get to when they have the time. However, unless you’re a diehard woodworker, this is another chore and the days are riddled with chores you’d rather put off until tomorrow.
With senior housing communities, your home is maintained by the staff. If you have a wobbly banister, call the front office and get it repaired – and they’ll be infinitely more cooperative than a random contractor who only accepts cash.
4. More Time for Fun
When you were a kid, there’s a good chance you thought about retirement with rose-tinted glasses thinking, “I can have summer vacation year round?!” Of course our ideals as children were less than noble and probably less rational – some kids want to live at Disneyland. However independent living can reignite that childlike wonder and excitement; that zest for pursuing your dreams.
The point of independent living is to remove the chores, errands, and responsibilities that interfere with your hobbies, recreational activities, and travel plans. Your home should never become a burden, but your safe haven in between exciting adventures.
5. Make New Memories
This is a big one because it incorporates all of the above. Making new memories is important for medical and mental reasons.
Medically, making new memories is important for your cognitive health. Your memories form in your brain like roots, branching off into different parts of the brain as tiny threadlike things… but then, the more you repeat the new activity or experience the new person, the threadlike root strengthens and grows. Then, as you perform new activities and make new memories, more threadlike memories grow.
This is how you strengthen your brain and chances are, if you’re doing the same routine at home day-in and day-out, you’re not forming new memories.
On a personal level, making new memories helps ward off depression or feeling like your life is ending. If every day you’re surrounded by great people, enjoying fun adventures, and exploring new hobbies then of course you’re going to be happier. We’re curious by nature; we love to explore. No one wants to be the salty old grump that’s stuck in their ways. Be open to new experiences, enjoy more sunrises, listen to some heavy metal or rap. Find hobbies, start conversations with strangers, and put yourself out there.
If you’re considering moving to a senior housing community, contact our advisors. Cumulatively, they have more experience in years than you’ve been alive for – and they always work as a team. Their services are free and they can help if you’re looking for independent living in Tacoma, assisted living in Seattle, or even senior housing in the sunny state (California).