For some people, independent living means living on your own in your own home. For others, however, it might mean being part of a supportive community where you can live independently but have access to help and support as and when you need it.

To help clarify this for you, let’s explore the different meanings of ‘independent living’ and explain why it’s such an important idea.

The difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living

When people hear the term ‘independent living’ they often think of retirement communities or assisted living facilities. However, the definition of independent living is broader than this. Independent living simply means maintain control of one’s own life. While this could be achieved by living on your own, or living with friends or family, for many people it is very happily achieved by living in a community where you have access to support and services if and when you need them.

The goal of independent living is simply to make sure you have the freedom and flexibility to live the life you want, on your own terms.

Benefits of an Independent Living community

If you’re trying to learn more, and are looking at the possibility of moving to an independent living community (which are also known as retirement villages or retirement communities), you’ll want to understand some of the benefits you might gain.

One of the biggest benefits of all is that you still have your own home. This gives you a lot of independence and privacy, something which is important to most of us in retirement. You also have access to a great many community amenities, which can include things like a a restaurant, lounges, gym, or wellness suite, as well as more practical things such as secure parking and round the clock security. These recreational and leisure facilities can be a great way to stay active and well socialised.

On top of all this, independent living communities can offer a vibrant programme of activities and social events, which offers a good way to meet new people and build friendships.

Types of support available in an Independent Living community

While a retired person living in a retirement community, coming and going as they please, is perhaps the most common understanding of what independent living looks like, this is only on example and the term encompasses a much wider range of possibilities.

Independent living communities come in all shapes and sizes, but have in common that they all offer a high degree of self-sufficiency and autonomy. The level of support available can vary greatly from community to community, but most will offer some combination of health and wellbeing support, support with administrative and home management tasks, and with maintaining an enjoyable and sociable way of life.

Activities and amenities of an Independent Living community

When it comes to activities and amenities, independent living communities usually offer a wide range. You can expect to find everything from the basic maintenance and upkeep services that are a core part of these communities, to high quality leisure, hospitality and keep fit facilities.

In this last case, there are very often facilities available aimed at helping you maintain your physical and mental health. These may include gyms with the latest equipment, wellness suites, saunas and other spa facilities.

If you find yourself in need of support with personal tasks like shopping or cleaning from time to time, there can be options available.  Some independent living communities have on-site carers available who can help out with these tasks on an occasional or even regular basis if needed. Santhem Residences offers a highly bespoke care service that we design alongside you, so you receive the level of support that’s best for you.

Questions to ask if you’re considering an Independent Living community

If you’re trying to decide whether independent living would be right for you, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Am I fit and well enough to live independently?
  • Would I enjoy being part of a community made up of people at a similar life-stage and with broadly similar outlook?
  • Would I benefit from having access to communal facilities like a wellness suite or gym?
  • Am I looking for someone else to take care of the bulk of the upkeep and maintenance around my home?
  • What kind of budget do I have for rent or other fees associated with independent living?
  • How important is location for me – do I want to be near my family, friends, hobbies or particular shopping or entertainment facilities?
  • How important is access to medical care and healthcare professionals available in case I need them in an emergency?

Asking yourself these questions can help you decide whether an independent living community would be the right choice for you.

Independent living? Or something else entirely?

So, now you know a bit more about what independent living is and how it differs from other types of living arrangements. It’s a great option for those who want to maintain their independence, but it’s not for everyone.

Think about your own needs and preferences, and also talk to your family and friends about what they think would be best for you. If you feel you’d like to talk to experts from within the Independent Living profession, do get in touch with us here at Santhem – even if you’re not considering living in our area.

Lastly, take the time to visit some independent living communities to get a feel for what they’re like, and ask lots of questions. It’s an important decision, but with a little research, you can make sure you take an informed decision that will ensure your happiness and comfort for a good many years.