What Is Independent Living?

Senior couple enjoying independent living

More freedom to live life the way you want

If you’ve only begun to look into retirement living, it might be challenging to decipher the differences between independent living and assisted living. Some people think they’re pretty much the same thing — but they’re not.

Basically, assisted living is what it says it is. It’s for people who require some sort of assistance with their daily routines. That could be anything from personal care, such as bathing and dressing, to meal preparation or reminders about taking their medication.

Independent living, on the other hand, is for people who want to free up their time and energy so they can do more of what they enjoy. It’s a fresh approach to senior living that appeals to vibrant, healthy people from many walks of life.

A focus on ‘want’ to do instead of ‘have’ to do

Communities like Heron’s Key that offer independent living use a basic two-part strategy to help residents get the most enjoyment out of every day.

First, they take care of home repairs, maintenance and landscaping (often referred to as the “maintenance-free” lifestyle) so that residents aren’t bogged down with time-consuming chores. Many, like Heron’s Key, offer housekeeping services, as well.

Second, they promote an active lifestyle filled with all kinds of interesting and engaging things to do. For many people, having access to lots of recreational and educational activities is part of what makes independent living so attractive. These can include community-wide get-togethers to celebrate holidays or other special occasions; day trips and other off-site adventures; workshops and life-long learning opportunities; group outings to attend cultural events; and plenty of possibilities for socializing with neighbors and friends every day.

Knowing that wellness is high on the list of priorities for their residents, most independent living communities have a fitness center with classes and programs created specifically for older adults. Some also have a trained professional who can work with residents to help them achieve their fitness and wellness goals.

How do you know if independent living is for you?

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already considered moving into a community that offers at least some of the services and amenities mentioned above.

Maybe you don’t have the same enjoyment you once did when it comes to taking care of your house. Maybe you want to expand your interests and devote more time to discovering what you truly do enjoy. Maybe you’re ready to simplify your lifestyle.

The reasons that people choose independent living are as varied as the residents who live in these communities. Here are some of the most common:

  • To be freer to travel, be with friends and family, or volunteer
  • To be more physically and mentally active
  • To feel safer and more secure
  • To have easier access to health care services if they are needed
  • To meet people and make new friends
  • To take advantage of the community’s amenities, such as home maintenance, dining options, social calendar, educational and fitness programs, and scheduled transportation
  • To protect financial assets for children or other beneficiaries
  • To know there’s a plan in place for the future

Find the right community

For some people, the decision to embrace independent living is based on their desire to be part of a friendly, close-knit community. Having less to worry about, combined with a more fulfilling lifestyle, typically leads to greater happiness, so it’s easy to see why people gravitate to independent living communities.

Lois, a resident ambassador at Heron’s Key, offered a glimpse into the kind of neighbors that new residents can expect to find: “The residents here have lived such interesting lives. So many have had amazing careers and life experiences — it’s wonderful to share and become acquainted!”

She also shared what drew her and her husband, Dan, to Heron’s Key: “We discovered early on that Heron’s Key was not the typical atmosphere you would think of for a retirement community. Everyone is so involved, active and welcoming that it felt like home right away.”

Every community has its own unique vibe. The best way to determine whether a community will be a good fit for you is to visit — a few times, if possible — and spend some time talking with the people who live there.

What’s different about a Life Plan Community?

Life Plan Communities, like Heron’s Key, offer a range of services to accommodate people with varying needs, from independent living to assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing. That can be especially appealing to couples when one person needs assistance and the other one does not.

You might choose a Life Plan Community for the active, independent living lifestyle it offers. If you do, you’ll also have easy access to other levels of care, including assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing, should your needs change. That can provide tremendous peace of mind.

That’s not all. Some Life Plan Communities, including Heron’s Key, offer what’s known as a Life Care agreement. It’s an arrangement that gives you priority access to those other levels of care mentioned above, with no significant increase to the monthly amount you would already be paying for independent living — even if your financial situation changes down the road through no fault of your own.

There’s no better time than now for independent living

The best time to move to an independent living community is when your health is good, for two reasons.

  • You can take full advantage of all the recreational and social activities the community offers. A common remark residents of independent living communities make is that they wish they’d made the move sooner, for this very reason.
  • If you wait, you risk developing a serious health condition that could prevent you from qualifying to become a resident. Even if you’re fit as a fiddle now (and congratulations if you are!), it’s always good to keep your future needs in mind.

Want to know more?

Heron’s Key offers the latest residential designs and lifestyle concepts — including the newest assisted living, memory care and skilled nursing care in the Gig Harbor area. For an uplifting, resident-centered way of life, come to Heron’s Key.

  • To learn more about independent living at Heron’s Key, click here.
  • To learn more about assisted living at Heron’s Key, click here.