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The Differences Between Independent Living and Aging in Place

a group of seniors enjoy socializing together

Independent Living vs Aging in Place graphic

You don’t know what you don’t know, which can make it hard to imagine how your needs might change as you get older. If you’re in good health now, it’s easy to assume that you’ll stay in your home as you age. In fact, 77% of adults age 50 and older say they plan to do just that. But the realities of growing older often have to be met with adaptation and change. While you might plan now to make adaptations in your home so you can age in place, independent living in a senior community can be an attractive alternative. If you’re weighing the pros and cons of aging in place vs. independent living, consider these factors related to aging:

Routine Tasks May Become Difficult

Declining health can impact your ability to be safe and comfortable on your own. If you develop mobility issues or conditions such as arthritis, even simple tasks may become challenging. You may find yourself avoiding cooking meals or keeping your home tidy, which can leave you poorly nourished or living in unclean or hazardous conditions.

If you age in place, you may need to hire outside help — a meal service so you’re eating well or a house cleaning service to keep your home comfortable and safe. In an independent living community, the services that make life easier — such as housekeeping and a dining plan — are part of the lifestyle.

You May Have to Give Up Driving

Changes in vision, stiff joints and slower reaction times are a few of the factors that can make driving more dangerous for older adults. At some point, you may decide that you aren’t as comfortable behind the wheel as you used to be. But giving up driving can have a drastic impact on your independence. How will you get groceries, see friends, and visit the doctor?

People who choose to age in place often rely on friends and family, public transportation or rideshare services to get where they need to go. Independent living communities typically offer regularly scheduled transportation to medical appointments and other destinations within the local community.

You May Feel Lonely

Social isolation can increase with age. Many seniors live alone in their homes, and declining health or a lack of transportation can make it difficult to maintain connections with friends and family. Loneliness and social isolation can impact health. One study found that loneliness is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

For people who age in place, the local senior center or a paid companion may offer social connection. Plus, technology — email, video chats, texting — can help bridge distances with friends and family. Independent living communities are, well, communities, so regular social interaction at meals, in the arts center, or on the bocce ball court makes it easy to feel connected to others.

It May Become Harder to Do the Things That Keep You Healthy and Happy

Well-being depends on a variety of factors, from physical health to intellectual engagement and a sense of purpose. But as you get older, it can be more difficult to participate in the activities that support well-being. You may no longer feel comfortable driving to the neighborhood fitness center or the local library. Or stiff joints may make favorite hobbies like gardening less pleasurable.

If you choose to age in place, you may have to rely on transportation services or friends and family to help you access the pursuits you enjoy. Or you may find yourself foregoing hobbies that have become too challenging. In an independent living community, the activities you enjoy are steps from your front door, making it easy to stay active and engaged. And if certain hobbies have become challenging, a host of classes and clubs offer exciting new possibilities.

Your Home May Not Accommodate Your Changing Needs

As you get older, it may become harder to live in your home. According to research, less than 1% of homes have accessibility features such as a no-step entrance or ramp, and an entry-level bedroom and bathroom. Plus, aging can make the routine upkeep of your home more than a chore – it can become impossible.

Aging in place may require that you make necessary modifications, such as installing a ramp to your entrance (which costs $3,000 on average) or grab bars in your bathroom (which averages $340).

Independent living communities are built with seniors in mind. Homes feature accommodations to meet changing needs. Plus, maintenance and upkeep are typically part of the package, freeing you from the chores and headaches of homeownership.

Consider Independent Living at Jefferson’s Ferry

Independent living at Jefferson’s Ferry is just that — independent. Here, residents have the freedom to shape their days while enjoying the amenities and services that can make it easier to age well. And with our new expansion project under way, we’ll soon be offering even more life-enhancing options, from new apartment homes with open floor plans to improved outdoor spaces. Plus, we’re a Life Plan Community offering a Type A Life Care contract, so if your healthcare needs change, you can get the care you need at rates similar to what you pay in independent living. Contact us to learn more or to schedule a tour.

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