When is it time for independent living?

Independent living is the perfect option for seniors who are confident in their ability to live alone safely, but don’t want to worry about things like home maintenance, housekeeping or cooking.

But making the decision to move can be a big one. How can someone tell if the time is right?

Why independent living?

Independent living, sometimes called retirement homes, can help seniors battle social isolation. This is important because being isolated can have negative health impacts equivalent to smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day.

Independent living options also come with the added benefits of on-site hospitality services, social programming and amenities. Whether your thing is yoga, bridge or just access to great coffee, the chances are that you can find something that suits your interests.

While independent living can be a great option for single seniors, suites can also cater to couples. Some independent living homes are pet-friendly, allowing you to take your four-legged family member with you.

But what if there is a change in the person’s health? Seniors who live in independent living homes can bring in home support or purchase additional support services should the need arise. Many independent living homes are located within a campus of care, a term used to describe locations which offer different levels of support and care (e.g., independent living, assisted living and long-term care) at the same location. This can be a good option for couples who have different needs, or for seniors who want to stay in one place as they age.

Finally, there is the peace of mind that comes with knowing that someone is available to respond if there is an emergency.

When might it be a good time to think about independent living?

No two seniors are the same. The reasons leading up to a move will be different for everyone. However, there are some common life events which might trigger someone to think about independent living:

  • The death of a spouse: The death of a spouse can be challenging at any age, but many older adults can begin to feel isolated after losing their partner. Keeping up with the house can also be more difficult, as often one partner will have little experience doing the tasks their spouse used to do (cooking, yard maintenance, etc.).
  • Changing health: A new illness, chronic disease, or just having less energy can be a reason to want help closer if it is needed.
  • Problems with memory: People living with dementia will likely require more specialized support as their disease progresses. However, people with early memory loss might be good candidates for independent living.
  • Challenges with yard or home maintenance: A lack of ability or interest to keep up with housework, yard work, or activities such as cleaning the gutters, can be motivating factors for some seniors who decide to move to long-term care.
  • Adult children becoming worried about safety: It is always important that the decision to move be the senior’s own choice. Yet for many older adults, the concerns of their children may encourage them to think about independent living.

Finding the right option

This July, EngAge BC will be launching Route65, a new, jargon free, easy-to-use website which makes it easier for seniors to decide what housing or care options they need to live their best life, and to compare different options in their community.

Stay tuned for more details!

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