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Independent Living and a Community of Friends: The Best of Both Worlds
Whether it's a house, apartment, or duplex within a community for seniors, Independent Living
refers to a private abode. In fact, Independent Living
is frequently referred to as retirement communities, retirement homes, senior apartments, or senior housing.
Essentially, seniors are as independent as possible in their personal care, dressing, and feeding, yet overall, independent living retirement communities offer numerous levels of service (i.e., laundry and housekeeping), as well as a sense of community regarding social events and outings.
According to Beth Richardson, nursing home administrator at Attic Angel, an independent living senior community in Madison, Wisc., "The goal is for seniors to maintain a lifestyle as independent as possible."
At Prairie Point, Attic Angel's independent living complex of single-family homes and duplexes with 10 different floor plans, residents are autonomous and pay a monthly rental fee similar to simply paying rent for an apartment or condominium.
Independent living facilities vary in price points depending on the location and services offered. At Prairie Point there is an option for meal plans in the dining hall. For the cost of $204 each month representing 20 meals per week, residents can dine in the community dining room with an attentive wait staff. Other services include groundskeeping, household maintenance, and snow removal for a monthly maintenance fee of $380.
"A big advantage to independent living," says Richardson, "is the sense of social interaction." For instance, every Tuesday there is a men's coffee group, which results in 30 to 40 men "gathering and solving the world's problems," she notes.
The community aspect is just one way independent living and retirement communities differ from a completely "independent" setting such as living in a condominium. In a senior community, additional services are offered and provided. For instance, when residents move into the community, Attic Angel has an eager staff that helps with the move. In another scenario, if a resident gets injured, they can contact residence staff readily accessible to help.
For Hallie Lou Blum, an Attic Angel resident since 1985, independent living keeps her connected to her sense of self while establishing new bonds with others. "I turned 90 in November and feel secure here with the services offered. I know I am able to access more assistance in other levels of care if or when the time arrives. At no time do I feel compelled to fit a certain pattern - the many volunteers here provide me with a spectrum of activities."
As baby boomers grow older and as the life span continues to increase, there are a variety of living options for senior citizens. Ultimately, independent living strives to maintain a sense of independence within a community setting with a local infrastructure to provide support when necessary.
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