4 Things People Forget about Independent Living
Some seniors want to move out of their homes, if you can believe – or currently live with one who does. With all of the technology available nowadays, there are a lot of calculator apps that will tell you whether it’s more fiscally responsible to rent an apartment or own a home.
Others may live in a cold environment and have read that moving to a hotter climate will do wonders for their health – and arthritis – not to mention the slew of people who fantasize about living on a tropical beach living on a boat. Still some want to move if only to get out of their neighborhood!
While most people’s first option is in home care, the close second is independent living. As its name suggests, independent living is “independent” as in, you live in a home that’s managed for you, but you are free to do as you please. In other words, if your loved one has been climbing a very rickety ladder every time it rains to clear out the gutters, then independent living communities will take care of that for you. If your washing machine breaks, then they can do the maintenance, and if you need help assembling something particularly heavy, there are staff on hand to help.
This freedom is what most seniors want for themselves… but it’s not for everyone. So while it is a good option, it’s always important to assess “care needs” first, since there are a number of things people tend to forget about independent living.
1. Independent Means Independent
This means that if you need help cooking because you’ve lost some minor motor skills or you need help driving to your favorite part of town, independent living will not be right for you. Few of these retirement homes offer transportation services. For that, assisted living would be a much better option.
In addition to this, if your elder is disabled and needs help getting around, independent living may not provide the kind of accessibility they need. Remember that independent means independent, so if your loved one needs any form of care, they will need to rethink this choice.
2. Needs Outweigh Wants
Talking with your senior about elder care is of paramount importance. We always tell adult children to talk with their family before touring – or even looking – for senior housing options. However, people fear confrontation and not many adult children are prepared to assume responsibility for their elder and, as a result, they let their elders’ wants outweigh their needs.
Many elders living at home are told by doctors and health professionals that they need to move to a place where people can take care of them should anything go wrong. Many people feel this is unnecessary, that they’re not a child, they do not need “babysitters.” Rather, the elders fight tooth and nail to stay at home even when it’s not healthy or safe!
In every adult’s life, there will come a time where the role reversal will take place. When you stop and think about it, there’s a beautiful symmetry to life that way – your parents, who once raised you, now need you to care for them. Unfortunately, many get so locked into their “roles” that they forget to act on what needs to be done. Remember, you need to take care of your elder!
3. Not Necessarily Cheaper
Independent living (or retirement communities) offer the LEAST amount of care, so they must be the cheapest form of senior housing, right? Almost always wrong.
First of all, independent living communities range in price across the board. Some are cozy, inexpensive homes, while others are palatial estates. If you do a basic Google search for the most affordable – or cheapest – senior housing, you will find plenty of independent livings. Although some of these may be questionable in regards to reputation… that’s not the part that dissuades people. The catch with independent living is that they don’t offer more care.
So, if your elder develops a condition, or a longstanding illness worsens, they’ll need to have additional assistance. If they’re unwilling to move (or incapable) then that means you’ll end up paying for home health care and in home care services. Those are expenses on top of the rent for living in a retirement community. They are not necessarily cheaper.
4. May not be the Last Move
Many adult children operate under the assumption that once they help their elder find a new home, it will be the LAST time they move. This is not always the case, especially in regards to independent living.
As with the previous point about expenses, if your loved one’s condition worsens with time or they develop a new illness, then paying for home health services may prove to be too expensive to keep them in their community. What’s more is many senior housing communities have it written in the contract that, should your elder’s condition worsen beyond what they can provide care for, then they have a legal right to move them out.
With the Concierge Care Advisors, we strive to make sure your elder only needs to move ONCE. Moving is stressful and hard on the mind and body. Although the decision to move is ultimately yours, we always inform you of the facts.
For instance, one time, we had a family who had talked with their loved one about moving to senior housing and he was very eager to begin the search. He had been diagnosed with dementia and they only wanted to tour independent living in Bellevue. Although the decision falls upon the family, we encouraged them to find a community that offers memory care services. We told them not simply to consider their senior’s health but we even factored in the long-term expense of memory care vs independent living with home health.
In the end, the family chose to move their elderly father into an independent living community. While we respect the decision, there is a good chance they’ll need our help again in the future. Remember that needs should always outweigh wants.
While independent living is a great option for many people, it’s not the right option for everyone. If you want your elder to live a long and healthy life, then you need to assess their condition honestly and not just kowtow to what they want to do.
It’s not easy to find a balance between respecting your elders’ desires and making a responsible decision for them, but at the end of the day, their health should trump their happiness. That may sound harsh at first, but think of the tough decisions you’ve had to make for your children: would you rather they eat junk food for dinner or eat a nutritious meal?
Most seniors resist moving at first, but look at the big picture. It’s easy to choose the path of least resistance, but a hard decision is not necessarily the wrong one. Contact our care advisors if you need help – we can be the “bad guys” who tell your elder why they need to move – and we’ll tour the options with you. This service is completely free, so don’t be worried about giving us a call.
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