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.