Independent Living vs. In-Home Care

If you’re considering a change in living arrangements for yourself or a family member, you may wonder about the differences between staying in your home or making a move to an independent living community.

To find the best fit for you or your relative, it’s important to understand the nuances in supportive living options. We’ve compiled some of the most common questions and answers on this topic to assist you as you begin your search.

What Is Independent Living?

Independent living is a residential option for adults who typically can live on their own but can benefit from a range of services and amenities that enhance their quality of life.

Many individuals who move to independent living wish for freedom from the burdens of home maintenance, including lawn care, cleaning, laundry, repairs, snow removal and cooking. Independent living communities handle all those tasks, leaving residents free to enjoy their time as they wish.

Individuals who seek supportive care have a range of options; independent living provides the least-intensive level of care within that spectrum. Communities categorized as independent living provide a residential atmosphere, with welcoming common spaces and private residences or apartments — typically apartments, condominiums, villas or cottages.

While independent living communities may offer some medical services such as on-site clinics, they typically do not provide ongoing medical assistance. They also do not assist residents with personal care needs such as bathing, dressing and eating.

Independent living communities are ideal for individuals who can live on their own, with little or no assistance, but can benefit from convenient services and amenities. Residents also have access to a wide array of stimulating activities and opportunities for social connections, volunteerism and intellectual growth.

What Is In-Home Care?

For individuals who need assistance but wish to continue living in their own homes, in-home care can provide a solution. In-home care providers offer a range of options, from help with simple domestic tasks for just a few hours a week up to around-the-clock medical care and monitoring by trained professionals.

Care within a private home can be provided by an agency with many employees or by a single contractor who works part-time. An advantage of in-home care is its flexibility, with arrangements dependent on the needs and financial resources of the client.

In-home caregivers can provide companionship, along with services such as transportation, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, yard work, maintenance and assistance with personal care tasks. In addition, caregivers with appropriate medical certifications may offer other services, including changing wound dressings, monitoring vital signs, managing intravenous medications or nutrition, and administering oral or injected medications.

What Services and Amenities Are Offered?

Available services and amenities vary significantly between in-home care and independent living communities.

In an in-home care setting, the services provided are determined by the individual needs of the client, along with the availability of services from specific providers. In most cases, services may fall into one or more of several categories, including:

  • Domestic services, including cooking, cleaning, shopping and driving
  • Personal care services, including companionship as well as assistance with dressing, bathing and eating
  • Medical and nursing services, including administering medications, monitoring intravenous fluids, changing surgical dressings and performing physical, speech or occupational therapies

Services and amenities in independent living communities help make life convenient and more enjoyable for residents. From dining to transportation, maintenance and activities, the services provided allow residents to spend their time on pursuits they enjoy. In addition to private, fully-appointed residences, individuals in independent living communities enjoy use of welcoming common spaces, including fitness centers, libraries, dining rooms, theaters, meeting rooms, lobbies, classrooms and landscaped grounds.

What Accommodations Are Available?

Individuals who make use of in-home care often wish to remain in their own homes. In some cases, people using in-home care may live in a house they have lived in for years or even decades; in other cases, they may have downsized to a smaller condo or apartment, or they may live with a family member or roommate.

Health changes often necessitate alterations to a home, such as the addition of an outdoor ramp, a move to a downstairs master bedroom and bath, widening of hallways and doorways, and removal of items that may cause tripping hazards for someone who uses a wheelchair or has other mobility issues.

Additional accommodations may be needed for in-home care professionals. For example, if an individual requires 24-hour care, a bedroom and bathroom may be provided for the caregiver.

In independent living communities, residents choose among a variety of different floor plans, such as one- and two-bedroom apartments. Residences can range in size from approximately 650 square feet to nearly 1,500 square feet, and they include custom features like kitchens with granite countertops, full-size appliances, hardwood cabinetry and crown molding.

While independent living communities offer a range of welcoming shared spaces — including fitness centers and dining rooms — residents also have the option of retreating to their own private apartments whenever they wish. They also decorate their homes according to their personal style and add individual touches.

Will I Have Access to Health Care Services?

Individuals who benefit most from independent living typically can tend to their daily needs without significant assistance. However, they benefit from a range of services and amenities that contribute to convenience and enjoyment of life.

While independent living does not usually offer significant medical services or nursing care, communities may be part of larger organizations that offer graduated levels of living. As residents’ health needs change, they may move into levels of living that provide more intensive care options.

Residents who choose in-home care can receive personalized health care services as needed. Some individuals may need only minimal help a few days a week, while others may need intensive, around-the-clock care on a temporary basis while they recover from an illness, injury or surgery. Still other individuals with serious, chronic health conditions may require 24-hour care from a team of professionals on an ongoing basis.

How Will I Socialize with Other People?

For individuals who choose in-home care, socialization with others can be challenging. Especially for those who live alone, isolation and loneliness can pose significant problems. In-home caregivers often provide some companionship, but individuals who are mainly or completely homebound may begin to feel a lack of connection with family members and friends, as well as the community around them.

In independent living communities, residents have multiple opportunities to strengthen existing relationships and to make new friends. Communities offer full calendars of programs and events, including lectures, day trips and other outings, fitness classes, book clubs, social get-togethers, spiritual services and many other options. By attending activities that they enjoy, residents can meet like-minded individuals and even learn more about long-time friends.

In addition, the many inviting common spaces in independent living communities provide opportunities to meet people and socialize. A resident who wishes for some company need only take a walk around the community to join a game, engage in a conversation or find a dining companion.

How Can I Choose the Best Option?

Choosing between in-home care and independent living for yourself or a family member depends on your specific situation. If you prefer to stay in your own home but cannot live there safely without assistance, consider engaging in-home professionals.

If you have ongoing, chronic health problems, you may need around-the-clock assistance, possibly from more than one medical professional. On the other hand, part-time help may be sufficient if you can manage some tasks of daily living, such as preparing meals, eating and taking medications.

For individuals who no longer wish to shoulder the burdens of home maintenance but who can live safely on their own, independent living provides a flexible option. With an array of services and amenities — including dining, transportation, maintenance, activities and welcoming common areas — independent living communities allow individuals to reclaim their time and focus on pursuits they enjoy.

Find the Perfect Fit for Your Lifestyle

If you’re considering a move to independent living, you’ll find that Verena at the Glen offers a unique combination of elegant apartment residences, first-class amenities and services, and a welcoming community. Chef-prepared cuisine, an array of stimulating activities, a focus on wellness, and one-of-a-kind ambiance help you create your ideal lifestyle. To plan your visit, please contact us today.

Active Lifestyle Community vs. Assisted Living Community

There are many reasons you may be considering a move to a retirement community. Perhaps you’ve recently lost a spouse and want to live in a community where you can build new friendships. Or, maybe, you no longer want to be responsible for the upkeep of a home. Whatever the reason, let’s compare two options available to you – an active lifestyle community versus an assisted living community.

Active Lifestyle Communities

Many older adults are able to live independently and want to continue living an active lifestyle. Although they could continue to live in the home they have lived in for many years, for any number of reasons many choose to live in a retirement community. For those who want to live an active lifestyle, Verena at the Reserve, an active lifestyle community, may be the answer.

An active lifestyle community gives you the opportunity to live an dynamic and independent lifestyle. The community provides many social programs and events where you’re able to develop deep and lasting friendships and also make connections with others who share your same interests. A calendar filled with lots of organized activities gives you the opportunity to fill your days with things you have always loved or have the chance to experience something new.

In an active lifestyle community, each resident resides in their own private accommodations, often an individual apartment. Various floorplans are generally available. Each apartment typically includes a small full-service kitchen, dining area and living space giving each resident the opportunity to privately entertain in their own apartment should they choose to do so; although, communal dining options are generally available. The apartment will also have one or more bedrooms and a private bathroom. Multiple common areas are available throughout the community where residents have the opportunity to share the company of others who live in the community.

Additionally, you’re given the option to relinquish chores such as meals, housekeeping and laundry, freeing up your time to enjoy your retirement to the fullest. Because active lifestyle communities are designed with the active older adult in mind, the amenities and services offered make that type of lifestyle readily available to each resident. Because this option is designed for those who can still live independently, the amenities and features offered are comparable to that one would find in a small home, townhouse or apartment.

Verena at the Reserve, an active lifestyle community located in Williamsburg, offers all this and more. Our member programs are tailored around your hobbies and interests giving you the chance to take part in the activities you already love or to try something new. Life at Verena is infused with our wellness philosophy – the key to maintaining a healthy, active and full lifestyle, now and for many years to come.

Assisted Living Communities

Some older adults are physically or cognitively unable to live independently. They may be developing or living with a chronic health condition like diabetes or heart disease. Or, they may be facing the cognitive decline often associated with dementia. For these reasons and many others, an assisted living community may be the best option.

In an assisted living community, residents typically live in an apartment just like those found in an active lifestyle community; however, all apartments may not contain kitchens since communal dining is provided. Staff is available 24/7 to provide any additional care and assistance that may be required. Residents receive assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) which may include assistance with dressing and grooming, toileting and personal hygiene assistance, housekeeping and laundry and transportation to doctor’s appointments. Although assistance is available, each resident is encouraged to remain as independent as possible.

Assisted living communities typically staff one or more full-time medical personnel such as an RN (registered nurse) or LVN (licensed vocational nurse). A doctor may also be on staff. Much of the daily care is provided by certified nursing assistants (CNAs) who are trained to meet the needs of older adults. All personnel are trained to provide emergency medical care should the need arise.

Some assisted living communities may have specialized memory care units, often in a wing dedicated specifically to that purpose. In these units, personnel are trained to provide the care needed for those dealing with more advanced cognitive issues. These units generally provide advanced security including extra surveillance equipment and secured entrances and exits to prevent wandering. Apartments in memory care units generally do not include kitchens due to safety concerns.

Comparing Amenities and Services

Amenities and services are the features that make retirement enjoyable. On-site amenities, such as a theater, fitness and wellness centers, elegant dining, lounge areas and fitness paths, enable you to fill your days with activities that are pleasant and convenient. Services, such as housekeeping, laundry and chef-prepared meals, gives you more time to enjoy the activities you’ve always dreamed of doing during retirement.

One of the goals of an active lifestyle community is to help you maintain your health – physically, mentally and spiritually – so that you may continue to live a full and exciting life. Services such as chef-prepared meals, laundry and housekeeping are offered, often at an additional cost, minimizing your daily responsibilities. Scheduled programs and events, both on-site and off, provide a variety of entertainment options. Physical activity is encouraged with features such as walking trails, exercise classes and fitness equipment available for your use. Active lifestyle communities do not typically have full-time staff dedicated to providing hands-on personal assistance or medical care.

Assisted living communities, on the other hand, are geared to help residents who need some level of assistance; therefore, they do provide hands-on personal assistance and some medical care. Staff trained in the needs of older adults are available 24/7 to assist with activities of daily living (ADLs) and personal care. Although assisted living communities do provide some level of medical care such as medication management, blood pressure monitoring and diabetes care, they do not provide intensive medical or skilled nursing care. A full calendar of activities and events is planned but will include activities geared to someone who is less active.

Active Lifestyle Community vs. Assisted Living Community

Trying to find the best living option may seem overwhelming, but having the right information at your fingertips can make it much easier. If you are making your first move into a senior living community, you generally want to know the differences between an active lifestyle community and an assisted living community. An active lifestyle community is the least restrictive of the two options since assisted living provides more support and assistive services.

Sometimes the easiest way to compare two options is to do so item by item. The chart below is a quick method to compare these two living options.


Active Lifestyle Community

Assisted Living Communities

Living Spaces Accommodations may be a small home, cottage, townhome, condo or apartment. Accommodations generally consist of an apartment-style living space which may be private or semi-private
Caregiving and Personal Assistance Services Specialized or one-on-one care may be purchased separately, often through a third party separate from the community. Assistance with ADLs (activities of daily living) is provided 24/7. Specialized care, one-on-one care or home health services will need to be arranged through a third party at an additional cost.
Medication Management May or may not be provided. Is provided at no additional cost.
Medical Personnel May or may not be provided. The community usually has full-time medical personnel on staff or on-call at all times.
Meals and Meal Services May be available, often at an additional cost. Multiple dining options may be available. Individual apartments contain kitchens for private meal preparations. Three meals are served in a communal dining area. Apartments may have kitchens for private meal preparations.
Housekeeping and Laundry Services May be provided, often at an additional cost. These services are generally provided at no additional cost.
Social Activities, Outings and Events Planned, both on- and off-site. A full calendar of events is planned on a daily basis focused on keeping the residents busy throughout the day.
Health and Exercise Programs Health and exercise facilities, events and services are provided and planned. More strenuous activities are offered since the community is for those seeking an active lifestyle. Part of the events and services that are planned. Less strenuous activities are offered.
Transportation Services May be available. Transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and other errands is generally provided.
Payment Sources Private pay or federal funding for those that qualify. Mostly private pay or federal funding for those that qualify. Some communities accept Medicaid.
Price Range Average price range is $1,500 to $3,500 per month. Average price range is $2,500 to $4,000 per month.
Other Names (by which a community may be known) Independent living communities, retirement communities, senior apartments, congregate care and 55+ communities Assisted care communities and personal care homes

Enjoy an Active Lifestyle at Verena at the Reserve

Verena at the Reserve, located in historic Williamsburg, offers you or your family member the active and fulfilling lifestyle you’ve been looking for. We provide all the comforts of home – all within a short drive to shopping, fine dining, historic sites and a multitude of outdoor activities.

We are a unique retirement community in Williamsburg in that we give you the financial freedom to enjoy the retirement you choose. No large upfront fee is required, and you choose which amenities and services you want to pay for – never having to pay for those you don’t want.

Our wellness programs enable you to maintain physical, mental and spiritual health. From our fitness classes and wellness programs to our on-site entertainment and social functions, there’s always an activity, event or program to enjoy at Verena at the Reserve. We are also a pet-friendly community; therefore, your four-legged companion is invited to come share your life and your lifestyle.

Our Member Programs and our amenities and services provide the sophisticated and active lifestyle that makes retirement living all you have dreamed it could be. View our floor plans and contact us at Verena at the Reserve if you have questions or would like to schedule a visit to see our beautiful community.


Senior Discounts in Richmond, VA

Who doesn’t love a good discount? For seniors, researching the many discounts available to you can be worth the time and energy put in. Discounts on entertainment, shopping and travel can add up to substantial savings over time and help you keep more of your hard-earned money. Here is a good rule of thumb: once you, a family member or friend turns 50, start inquiring with various businesses you frequent about available discounts. Some senior discounts start at age 50, while others begin at 55. Discounts can change over time, so don’t hesitate to ask more than once!

To get you started, we’ve done some initial research for you. Here are 10 senior discounts to enjoy in Richmond, Virginia.


Age requirement: 50+

Planning a trip? Need a rental car? Alamo offers unlimited mileage and year-round discounts between 10% and 25% off, depending on the location and the type of request. When making your vehicle reservation, have your AARP membership number handy, and request I.D. Number 706768.


Age requirement: 55+

Looking for a comfortable place to stay on your next vacation? Or do you need to reserve a room in Richmond for friends or family planning a visit? Best Western offers a 10% savings (or more) on room rates at their hotels and resorts. You will be asked to provide proof of your age at check-in, so have your AARP membership information handy.


Age requirement: 60+

This popular burger chain offers a 10% discount at participating locations. It is always a good idea to ask about available senior discounts before ordering, as some chain locations around the country are independently owned and offer different discounts.


Age requirement: Grandparent

Looking to spend some quality time with your favorite grandkids? While there is no “percentage discount” for seniors at the Children’s Museum of Richmond, a grandparent’s membership for two allows all grandchildren under age 18 to enter for free.


Age requirement: AARP member

Denny’s offers 20% off between 4 pm and 10 pm, as well as coffee for one dollar for AARP members. They also offer a 55+ menu with smaller portions at better prices.


Need to get some work done on your car? Jiffy Lube generally offers discounts to senior citizens, but the percentage varies by location. Call your closest Jiffy Lube and see what they will do for you! If you are close enough to multiple Jiffy Lube locations, you may want to check to see which one offers the best deal.


Age requirement: 60+

Ready to do some shopping? Every Wednesday, Kohl’s department store offers a 15% discount for customers who are 60 or older. The discount cannot be combined with other percent-off discounts available in the store, and proof of age is required at check-out. If you have any questions about what does/does not work with the discount, don’t hesitate to talk to a sales associate.


Age requirement: 55+

One of the premiere tourist destinations in Richmond, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden offers a senior membership option that includes admission for a year plus 2 free guest passes and discounts on purchases and classes. Take a friend and enjoy the beauty of nature in one of the most breathtaking locations around.


Age requirement: 55+

Most McDonald’s locations around the country offer senior citizens discounted beverages and coffee. Because McDonald’s franchises are independently owned, however, participation and available discounts vary from location to location. It is best to call or inquire ahead of ordering.


Age requirement: 55+

Do you love history? One-day admission to the Valentine exhibition galleries, the Edward V. Valentine Sculpture Studio and the 1812 Wickham House costs only $8 for visitors 55+. Yearly membership costs $25 and comes with many additional benefits, including (but not limited to): free admission for a year, admission to other select national museums, free parking, discounted walking and bus tours, a discount in the museum store and complimentary guest passes. Take advantage of everything Richmond has to offer!

Don’t see your favorite location on the list? Don’t worry. These 10 senior discounts are only scratching the surface of what is available. Keep in mind that many places offer discounts without listing them on their website, so it is always a good idea to ask. You may be surprised how much money you can save.

While you are out and about, why not stop by and see us? Verena at Glen is a sophisticated, active-lifestyle retirement community in Glen Allen. In a setting of colonial-style architecture amid breathtaking Virginia landscape, we are proud to offer first-class amenities and stand-out services in upscale apartments sure to make you feel right at home. Take a look at our photo gallery, or better yet, come see the state-of-the-art dining options and tight-knit community for yourself! Quit worrying about housekeeping or maintenance and start enjoying your retirement the way it was meant to be lived. Stop by or contact us today.