Independent Living within a senior living community usually parallels the experience of living at home without any assistance. You have a private residence and you're responsible for taking care of yourself just as you always have.
What’s different about Independent Living within a senior living community is there is more support for what's called Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs) - things like shopping for oneself, cooking, managing housework, performing the laundry and driving are some examples. This lifestyle is designed to offer a supportive environment with access to social connection, meals and comfort knowing there is available help closeby.
Independent Living communities typically do not provide access to healthcare services, although these services may be offered within other areas of the community such as a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) or through in-house arrangements and those of an outside vendor partner to offer in-home, non-medical services like bathing assistance, homemaking and shopping. This can help bridge the need to transition into Assisted Living.
An Independent Living community is generally ideal for most older people who no longer want to manage a home, cook as often, maybe worried about living alone and are interested in being around other seniors. Residents who may require more assistance or require medical services will find it more convenient to move into Assisted Living, able to offer a wider range of services supporting Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) - things like bathing assistance, help with daily dressing, medication management, and transferring.
Access to higher levels of care is the main difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living – and the line between the two can seem murky at times – but Assisted Living Communities are usually state regulated while Independent Living Communities are not.
But what if someone in Independent Living wants to access in-home, non-medical services for a more premium living experience without having to upgrade to Assisted Living?
That's where Independent Plus comes in.
Many people aren't aware that Independent Plus bridges the gap between Independent Living and Assisted Living. Independent Plus can provide Independent Living residents with care on an a la carte basis and offers important socialization opportunities. The care services are non-medical in nature but can be accessed on-demand for as long as the resident needs them. You can view this as a step-down assisted living type concept that enables residents to remain living independent longer.
This level of service continues to be particularly beneficial to Independent Living residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, when our agency was able to place a large number of people in assisted living-like settings without the restrictions instituted on regulated assisted living communities. Independent Plus also provided their families with greater access to their loved ones during the pandemic, whereas access to Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing residents was restricted during this time.
Here are some of the premium services available in many senior living communities with Independent Plus:
- Meal preparation
- Companionship for leisure activities such as puzzles, board games, crafts, hobbies, light conversation, reading, and watching television and movies together
- Companionship for physical activities such as exercising and walking
- Personal services such as grooming, haircuts, and hairdressing
- Non-medical Care for ADLs (examples include bathing, dressing transferring, toileting)
Independent Plus residents can also access social activities with the community, including games nights, movie nights, crafts, music, and more.
These premium services are available for an extra fee, but many residents find the cost well worth the additional value by enhancing the Independent Living experience.
Again, it should be stressed that only non-medical support is available in Independent Plus. Residents are expected to seek out healthcare services outside of the senior living community or self manage their own care such as monitoring and managing insulin levels. If this isn't possible for the older adult, then the option of moving up to Assisted Living needs to be explored.
Assisted Living communities are designed for older adults who require assistance with ADLs and are unable to live entirely independently. Some of the extra support they offer older adults include bathing, toileting, dressing assistance and much more. There is also a specialized Memory Care program created exclusively for people who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, staffed by people specifically trained in those areas.
In terms of health care, Assisted Living offers different levels of nursing support, therapy, and treatment programs. It's crucial to fully understand which medical services each community supports, not just for your older loved one's needs today but also for the future. No one knows what tomorrow will bring. However, it's always best to have as many services available as needed, so you're covered for the unexpected.
Remember that not all senior living communities offer Independent Plus services, so be sure to ask each facility you're considering what they offer in terms of support for their Independent Living residents. Alternatively, you can talk to a senior living advisor for their best recommendations on senior living communities that will meet your needs and expectations.
Get help finding senior living communities in the Greater Cincinnati Area
Navigating the world of senior living communities can be a difficult challenge for many families, especially if they're searching for the right living arrangement for their elderly loved ones on their own or for the first time. The process can be confusing, there are many pitfalls to watch out for, and there's a significant number of details to consider that can make an informed choice seem out of reach.
Assisted Living Locators of Greater Cincinnati can help you find the most appropriate senior living community. We take the time to get to know your loved one's needs, answer all of your questions, and present a list of the best-matched Independent Living, Assisted Living, Alzheimer's/Memory Care, and Continuing Care Retirement communities in your area. We'll even accompany you on your community tours and help ensure all your questions are answered and your concerns addressed.
Contact David Flautt of Assisted Living Locators of Greater Cincinnati at 513-914-1980 or firstname.lastname@example.org to start finding the best senior living services for your elderly loved one today.