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5 Myths About Independent Living Communities

Many of the common fears people have simply aren’t true


(Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by Acts Retirement-Life Communities.)

Relocating to a new community has its challenges no matter what stage of life you find yourself in. It’s normal to feel all kinds of emotions ranging from excitement about your new surroundings to fear of the unknown.

But when it comes to independent living communities, many of the common fears people have simply aren’t true. There are some myths that seem to live on despite clear evidence to the contrary.

Here are five of those myths. Each is a commonly-held belief about what it’s like to be part of an independent living community, and all are untrue. If you’re thinking about independent living either for yourself or for a loved one, you’ll want to take note of these top myths so you can make the best decision — a decision that’s based on facts, not fiction.

Myth 1. Independent living communities are just too pricey for most people

Even if you’ve paid off your home and you’re mortgage-free, there are still a number of monthly costs that add up. Between utilities, insurance, taxes, repairs and other home ownership costs, the price of staying in your old house isn’t as low as you may think. Click here to read about the hidden costs of home ownership.

If you consider that down the line you may need some in-home services or medical care, you’ll only be adding to that budget. That’s why the price of independent living can favorably compare to the cost of staying in your own home as you age. Consider this: The average monthly cost of typical homemaker services, which do not include personal care, was about $4,000 in 2017. Combine that with the homeowner fees mentioned above and any medical care you may need as you age, and independent living communities are suddenly affordable in comparison.

Myth 2. ‘Independent living’ is really just another way of saying ‘nursing home’

People who believe this myth don’t understand what ‘independent living’ means. If you’re one of these people, you’re not alone. So much has changed with senior living in the past couple of decades that it’s understandable if lots of folks aren’t aware of all the new options out there.

‘Independent living’ is community living all right, but it’s for people who simply want a more carefree lifestyle. These communities are set up so that residents don’t have to worry about home maintenance, for example. Lawn care, snow removal, home repairs — all things of the past, as they are taken care of by management.

If you’ve ever lived in a community where there’s a homeowners’ association (HOA), you can think of independent living in a similar vein. Independent living is just more comprehensive and geared toward the needs of the 55+ crowd. Then add to that extra benefits like daily activities and events, fitness and hobby clubs like yoga and art classes, etc., and what independent living really means is a community of people who want to enjoy their retirement to the fullest without having to deal with unwanted responsibilities.

Myth 3. Moving to a senior community cuts you off from your friends and family

Unless you move out of state, the only way you’ll be cut off from friends is if you purposely make it a point to do so. Independent living communities do not place restrictions on having guests in your home and they provide more options for visiting them in their homes.

You’ll have more options for entertaining because you can not only invite your friends over to your home, you can also hold a gathering in your community’s common spaces. Many have clubhouse-style common areas that are available for social events. Picture a picnic by the grill, a game of water volleyball in the pool or a book club in the clubhouse.

You may even find that it’s easier to visit old friends after a move to independent living. If driving is a problem, many communities have all sorts of transportation options that help residents get where they need to be. Want further proof? Read about how Acts Retirement-Life Communities has addressed the importance of socialization and made it a priority within its communities.

Myth 4. Moving to independent living means you lose your independence

There’s a lot of irony in this myth — that should be a giant tip-off that it’s completely untrue. One of the major fears of Americans 65 and older is that they will lose their independence. It’s a prime reason that many older Americans resist moving to any type of senior living community, even one that’s designed for independent living.

This myth probably arises from confusion about all the different types of senior living communities that are available today. The spectrum ranges from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing, each vastly different from the others.

There are independent living communities where people live in their own homes and the only communal aspect to their arrangement is that home maintenance and lawn care are taken care of. They’re free to cook their own meals, have overnight guests and keep their pets.

There are also independent living communities where some residents opt for meals in a central dining location, or they partake in social activities sponsored by the community. Sometimes residents sign up for housekeeping services, too.

The point is: The choice is up to each resident of how many services they want to add to their own arrangement and how independent they want to be.

With assisted living — a different type of senior living community — things are different. Assisted living communities offer a higher level of care for older adults who need it. For example, most offer an on-site caregiver who’s there every day, 24 hours a day. These communities also serve meals and provide assistance with dining for those who need it. Residents often receive medical management, personal care and a wide range of wellness programs and life enrichment programs designed for those who may find it more difficult to travel outside the community regularly for socializing.

As you can see, independent living is vastly different from assisted living.

Do you want to learn more about independent living but also have the option to move to assisted living or skilled care in the future, if necessary? You should learn more about Continuing Care Retirement Communities. CCRCs provide residents a wide range of living options based on their current and ongoing needs.

Myth 5. There’s nothing to do

This myth might be the most unfounded yet. The truth is, lots of people who make the move to independent living communities find their schedules are more packed than ever before.

Not having to worry about chores tends to free up your time for better things. With more time for socializing and exercising, people who move to independent living have far more opportunities to stay busy, active and social.

Most communities provide access to organized social events, classes and outings. Hobby groups are common, too, and many of these activities are open to your family members as well.

With all there is to do and with all the freedom from not having to worry about home maintenance or chores, lots of people who make the move to independent living find their new home to be more exciting than they ever imagined. Now that these top myths have been debunked, you can begin to see all the benefits of this exciting new type of community and maybe even envision yourself enjoying the carefree lifestyle of an independent living community.

Want to debunk more retirement myths? Read Acts Retirement-Life Communities’ five bonus retirement community myths.

By Acts Retirement-Life Communities

Acts Retirement-Life Communities is the largest not-for-profit owner, operator and developer of continuing care retirement communities in the United States. Headquartered in suburban Philadelphia, Acts has a family of 23 retirement communities that serve approximately 8,500 residents and employ 6,200 in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. For more information about Acts visit actsretirement.org.

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