Independent Senior Living

Independent senior living communities, also known as retirement communities, senior living communities or independent retirement communities, are housing designed for active seniors 55 and older.

Independent living communities are ideal for individuals who can do everything for themselves and would like to live among peers, in a social, active and comfortable setting. Some communities offer a “maintenance-free” living option, and often offer extensive activities, event and programs for their residents.

Independent senior living communities commonly provide apartments but some also offer cottages, condominiums, and single-family homes. Residents are seniors who do not require assistance with daily activities or 24/7 skilled nursing but may benefit from convenient services, senior-friendly surroundings, and increased social opportunities that independent senior living communities offer.

Independent living communities can offer the following benefits:

  • Allow a person/couple to maintain independence
  • Some offer meal packages so that residents don’t have to worry about cooking or dining alone
  • Offer more social interaction than living at home
  • Arrange activities and outings for the residents

Independent senior living communities are also popular among snowbird seniors who wish to downsize or travel freely without the burden of managing a home.

Many retirement communities offer dining services, basic housekeeping and laundry services, transportation to appointments and errands, activities, social programs, and access to exercise equipment. Some also offer emergency alert systems, live-in managers, and amenities like pools, spas, clubhouses, and onsite beauty and barber salons.

Click here for Independent Living Checklist.

Independent Living Checklist

Independent Living Community Location

  • Is the community located in a desirable area?
  • Does the community provide easy access to recreational opportunities (parks, beaches, golf courses, country clubs, walking trails, etc.)?
  • Is the community convenient to shopping?
  • Is the community convenient to medical centers, places of worship and other services?
  • Is the community convenient to cultural attractions (museums, theaters, concert halls, gardens, historic sites, etc.)?
  • Is the community convenient to area transportation (public transportation, airports, highways, etc.)?

Your prospective home, cottage or apartment

  • Does the community offer a variety of home and apartment styles?
  • Is there an available home or apartment style that is attractive to you?
  • Will your furnishings fit well in the style or layout of the apartment or home?
  • Is there ample storage space?
  • Do the homes or apartments have good views?
  • Do they have individual climate control?
  • Is the kitchen well appointed and suitable to your needs?
  • Are all appliances included?
  • Are the finishes throughout (the carpet, cabinets, window treatments, fixtures, etc.) contemporary and to your taste?

Community areas

  • Is the landscaping attractive and well maintained?
  • Is the architectural design aesthetically pleasing?
  • Is the decor in interior community areas tasteful?
  • Does the community have all the amenities that are important to you (for example, a comfortable dining room, a lounge, a fitness center, a computer room, etc.)?
  • Are there attractive gathering areas (lounges, club rooms, card rooms, etc.)?
  • Is it easy to get from the Independent Living Community to area events?
  • During your visit, did you see residents using the community areas?

Dining

  • Are the dining venues attractive and reflective of the types of places you would enjoy eating?
  • Are the menus varied?
  • Does the community have a chef?
  • Does the community offer healthy menu options?
  • Will you have a choice of dining plans?
  • Does the community offer private dining spaces?
  • Will the staff provide catering arrangements for your private functions?

Services and programs

  • Does the community provide housekeeping, maintenance, and scheduled transportation?
  • Are there other conveniences available on site if you wish to pay for them (for example, dry cleaning pickup, salon services, banking, etc.)?
  • Does the community provide a full calendar of activities for residents?
  • Do you find plenty of scheduled activities that will be stimulating and of interest to you?
  • Does the community have a dedicated resident services and programs staff?
  • Does the community have a resident advisor that acts as a liaison between residents and community management?
  • Does the community offer (or enable access to) a continuum of care, should a need arise in the future?

The staff

  • Did members of the staff smile and make eye contact with you?
  • Did the staff person who accompanied you know residents and staff by name?
  • Were you able to meet the top manager of the community or any of the management team?
  • Do staff members display a genuine commitment to residents and to their work?
  • Do you feel a sense of hospitality throughout the community?
  • Did the staff person who accompanied you seem to have what’s best for you in mind rather than their own interests?

Your prospective neighbors

  • Are the residents friendly and outgoing?
  • Did you see plenty of activity (participation in programs and events, etc.) during your visit?
  • Were residents willing to talk and share their perspectives with you?
  • Do the residents seem to be people with interests similar to yours?