Choosing an independent living community is a big decision. You want a place that will meet your personal needs, wants and lifestyle but is also designed to help you be comfortable and carefree so you can stay independent even as you get older. Of course, finding a place that feels like home is one of the most important factors. But where do you start?
“No two independent living communities are alike,” says Beth McGowan Welch, Executive Director at Park Place of Elmhurst, a Life Plan Community in the Chicago area. “While the services and amenities may be the same on the surface, every community has its own take on senior living, and you’ll want to choose an option that reflects you and your wants as much as possible.”
What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Independent Living?
While independent and assisted living communities offer many of the same services and amenities, their approach to care and lifestyles are different. Independent Living focuses on providing a maintenance-free, carefree and enjoyable retirement lifestyle for older adults who are healthy and able to live without significant support. Assisted Living, on the other hand, focuses on providing caring support with things like activities of daily living (ADLs) in order to help residents live as independently as possible.
“Independent living is a great way to start or continue a new chapter of your life,” says Beth. “Our residents at Park Place no longer have to deal with the tasks of homeownership and can reap all the benefits that our community provides.”
What To Look For When Searching for Independent Living
Everyone’s wants and needs are different. Here are some questions to ask yourself (and various communities) to find a lifestyle that best suits your needs:
1. What sort of senior living community do you want to live in?
There are many ways to enjoy independent living – 55+ communities, maintenance-free communities and senior living communities that offer other types of care on campus as well. Some places only offer independent living but may have options for adding on care. Think about where you’d like to live and what your future needs are to determine the type of community that will work for you.
2. What sort of lifestyle would you like?
This is particularly important for independent living residents, who still have many years of adventure ahead of them. What sort of retirement lifestyle are you looking for? Would you like the community to be your home base from which you can launch extensive trips? Do you want a large, social community with many things to do, or would you prefer a quieter community in a more secluded area? The lifestyle of a community is very important to your happiness, so think about what truly is important to you and then visit several independent living communities to find one that fits your needs.
3. What services and amenities are included?
One of the huge draws of independent living is the maintenance-free lifestyle. However, comparing different options can be a little like comparing apples to oranges. Some communities pay one flat monthly fee that provides access to everything on campus. Others offer a more pay-as-you-go option. At the same time, you’ll also want to look into what, exactly, those services and amenities entail. One community may have a large range of perks and benefits while another just has a handful.
4. What sort of assistance is available?
Being in a community is a comforting safeguard because help is usually not far away. Many communities have a security staff or a care staff (or both) on site around the clock, and living areas are often equipped with emergency call systems so that help can arrive within moments if needed. Knowing what help is available, as well as what happens in an emergency, will help you have peace of mind.
5. What’s the food like?
Who doesn’t enjoy eating? Meals are one of the great pleasures of life, and one of the reasons to move to a community is to enjoy delicious, chef-prepared meals without having to lift a finger. Many communities will have several dining venues on site and are staffed by professionally trained chefs and restaurant staff. Check to see how meals are prepared – are they made from scratch with fresh, locally sourced ingredients? How do they deal with dietary and nutritional needs? How often does the menu change? If possible, treat yourself to a meal at the community to really get a “taste” for what life is like.
There are many different things to consider when you or a loved one are searching for an independent living community, and these five questions above only scratch the surface. Beth suggests thinking about the search like you would buying a home. “First, you want to write out your needs – the things you absolutely must have in order to live there. Second, write out your wants – the nice-to-haves that will make life great. Then, after you’ve searched for communities that meet both your needs and wants, go on a tour to see what it’s like for yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll step into a place that just feels like home … and you’ll have found the perfect place for you.”
Discover the Difference at Park Place of Elmhurst
Park Place of Elmhurst is a different kind of retirement community – you’ll enjoy a lifestyle unlike any you’ve experienced. A lifestyle that is maintenance-free with lots of helpful services and remarkable amenities with engaging neighbors just outside your door – all backed by Providence Life Services, a Christian-based organization that’s been a trusted name in Chicago-area senior living for more than a century.
Offering Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation and Memory Support, Park Place of Elmhurst provides peace of mind. Residents of Park Place have made the decision and moved into a Life Plan Community that will ensure whatever life change happens, Park Place is the right place for all their care needs. One of the fabulous benefits of choosing a Life Plan Community is the peace of mind of knowing that you have made the decision and partnered with a community committed to providing all the levels of living from the day you move in.
We encourage you or your loved one to contact us to learn more about our exclusive community or schedule a personal tour by calling 630-239-5127.