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Ideas for Decorating a Senior Living Apartment

Moving into a senior living apartment is an exciting new chapter in your life. It’s an opportunity to embrace a fresh start and make new friends. But how do you go about decorating your senior living apartment? Whether you’re making the move into an independent living or assisted living apartment, our guide to decorating and furnishing can help you create a new stylish space that is welcoming, and comfortable.


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Are Senior Living Apartments Furnished?

It’s one of the first questions that everyone asks. The answer is some senior living apartments come furnished while others are unfurnished, it can all depend on the specific community, but both offer their own benefits. An unfurnished apartment is a blank canvas that allows you to furnish and customize it exactly how you want. A furnished apartment provides you with essentials like a couch, table, and chairs so you can focus on setting up your favorite decorations and displaying beloved photos.

How to Make Senior Living Feel like Home

Moving into a new apartment can be challenging, especially if you’re downsizing from a larger, well-lived-in home. With our helpful tips and some planning, you can furnish your senior living apartment so it feels just like home.

Personalize with Beloved Memories

Incorporating cherished items and photos into your new home adds a personal touch that warms and comforts. Photos of family and friends, your favorite pieces of art, and most beloved knick-knacks can be great conversation starters too.

Choose Comfortable and Functional Furniture to Right-Size Your Home

Opt for furniture that gives you the best of both worlds providing comfort and functionality. For example, a coffee table with added storage underneath. Many furniture manufacturers offer pieces that can keep you comfortable while you right-size your space such as power lift chairs, multifunctional coffee tables, and extendable dining tables. Don’t forget to vertically maximize your space with bookcases and shelves.

Harness the Magic of Mirrors

Hanging large mirrors on the wall can help reflect light around your apartment and open up the room. Plus your mirror can be framed or unframed to help match the style and theme of your other decorations. Mirrors, combined with white furniture, can also help further disperse natural light.

Layer with Soft Furnishings and a Splash of Greenery

Throw blankets, cushions, rugs, and curtains add warmth, comfort, and character to your living space. You can also update them to match different moods and seasons. Adding in a plant or two can also add a touch of nature to your apartment. Artificial flowers and plants also add that earthy charm with low maintenance.

Keep Safety in Mind

When you move into a senior living apartment it’s important to consider safety when picking furniture. Incorporate furniture like rounded tables for ease of access, Use the three foot rule to ensure adequate space for all accessible areas, and set up proper light placement especially in areas that you’re most likely to fall like floor lips between rooms.

Be sure to reach out to your community prior to your move to see if they have any guidance on decorating a senior living apartment or moving your belongings into an apartment. Senior living communities like Five Star Senior Living are experts on resident move-ins and may have tips specific to their community.

How to Furnish and Decorate an Assisted Living Apartment

Furnishing an assisted living apartment is much like decorating any senior living apartment, but with an added focus on safety and accessibility. Maintain wide paths through hallways and around furniture to minimize the risk of bumps and falls.

Assisted living apartments should avoid area and/or throw rugs and loose power cords which can also cause falls. Accessible furniture and appliances are also essential such as large knobs on cabinets and glow in the dark light switches. These small additions to a senior living apartment can add up to a safer and more comfortable home.

Decorating your Five Star Senior Living Apartment

At Five Star Senior Living most of our apartments come unfurnished and we encourage our residents to bring their most cherished items, but we also work with residents to provide whatever furniture they may need.

An unfurnished apartment allows you to create a space all your own. Whether it’s the chair you sit in each morning to enjoy your coffee or the bookshelf that holds all your favorite novels, our team members will work with you before your move-in to make sure everything fits safely and securely.

Planning a move to a senior living community can be a challenge, but Five Star Senior Living offers you a world of choice, unparalleled comfort, and a community that empowers you. Find your community today.

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Transportation Services for Seniors

Driving is often synonymous with independence. If you’re an older adult and you’re thinking of hanging up the car keys for good you may feel concerned about how you’ll get around town. Many older adults don’t want to be what they perceive as a burden to family members. Public transportation isn’t always available or senior-friendly in some areas of the country, and taxi cabs can be cost-prohibitive for frequent use.

Not knowing what alternative transportation options are available is one reason some seniors keep driving long after they begin to feel less confident behind the wheel.


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The good news is there are many transportation services for seniors that offer practical benefits. Because we understand how important it is for older adults to have solutions they feel confident in, we created this list of rideshare services and transportation providers. We hope it will give you some options to explore.

Rideshare and Transportation Options for Seniors

Uber for Seniors

Uber is one of the most popular ride sharing platforms for seniors. With a convenient and easy-to-use app, seniors can get where they need to go when they want. Programs like Uber Health, which allows senior centers to request, pay, and manage rides without having seniors sign up for the app, allow seniors the flexibility and ease of getting to doctor’s appointments, family gatherings, or shopping trips without any hassle.

Lyft for Seniors

The ride sharing app service Lyft has come up with some innovative programs to make it easier for older adults, including those without a smartphone, to access transportation. Whether it’s discounted rides for seniors going to the grocery store or free rides to polling booths during elections, Lyft is an option to explore with a senior loved one.

GoGoGrandparent

If you’re not tech savvy or don’t have a smartphone, this transportation coordination service can be a big help. It acts as a concierge between transportation options, such as Lyft and Uber, in the local area and seniors who need a ride.

Volunteer Transportation Programs

Many cities and counties have volunteer ride programs dedicated to safely transporting older adults. You can use this site to quickly locate programs near you.

Area Agency on Aging

Your local council on aging office is another option to explore. They often maintain a list of senior-friendly transportation services and volunteer transportation organizations. You can search the national agency’s database to find the contact information for the office that is closest to you.

iTNAmerica

Depending upon where in the country you live, you might find iTNAmerica to be helpful. They connect seniors with local transportation providers who will treat them with dignity and respect. That includes helping them with door through door service, not just dropping riders off or picking them up at the curb.

Transportation Services at Five Star Senior Living

Whether it’s time to get rid of your car or the finances of ridesharing don’t work for you, consider the transportation benefits of being a resident at a senior living community. At Five Star Senior Living communities across the country, residents can take advantage of our in-house transportation services. With friendly drivers who get to know you and favorably located communities, our transportation services for seniors can be used for physician appointments, outings to local malls and restaurants, scenic drives, and more. Find a community today and talk to one of our team members about your transportation needs.

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Best Cell Phones & Plans for Seniors

Cellphones are a ubiquitous part of life; we’re either on our phones or they’re right by our side. It would be difficult to find someone without a cellphone, as 97 percent of Americans now own one of some kind, according to the Pew Research Center.

With so many cellphones and so many cell phone service plans, the abundance of options can feel daunting. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you navigate the maze of choices and find the best cell phone for seniors and the best cell phone plans.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a cell phone service plan:

  • How much data do you need?
  • How much talk and text do you need?
  • Do you need international calling?
  • Do you need a lot of features, like unlimited streaming or mobile hotspot?
  • What’s your budget?

Once you’ve considered these factors, you can start shopping around for plans. There are a few different ways to do this:

  • You can compare plans online.
  • You can go to a carrier store and talk to a representative.
  • You can use a service like Wirefly to compare plans from multiple carriers.

Remember to always read the fine print before you sign up for a plan. Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions, including the cancellation policy.

Best Cell Phones for Seniors

Apple iPhone – $899*

With its latest model the 14 Plus, Apple’s iPhone continues to be one of the best smartphones on the market for older adults. The iPhone offers a wide range of customizable accessibility features like large screens, large text, excellent call quality, and safety features like crash detection, SOS, and health monitoring apps. Plus the phone has an excellent camera. This phone is on the pricier side and is geared towards seniors who are more comfortable with technology, but is the most comprehensive when it comes to features.

Samsung Galaxy S23+ – $999*

For older adults more comfortable with Android phones, the Samsung Galaxy S23+ is a great pick. Great call quality, a large screen, and customizable accessibility options make this phone one of the best. The Galaxy’s large size might not work for those with smaller hands or reduced grip, but is great for those who like preinstalled safety features.

Jitterbug – $108* for smartphone

For those looking for a more simplified and cost-friendly phone, look no further than the Jitterbug Smart3. It features a large screen, a simplified user interface, urgent response button, long-lasting battery, and a great camera.

RAZ Mobility Memory Phone – $310*

Designed specifically for older adults with memory issues or a form of dementia like Alzheimer’s, the RAZ Mobility Memory Phone lets older adults with memory loss stay in touch with family.

Key features include preventing unnecessary emergency services calls and incoming fraud calls. Phone calls are made by the owner pressing and holding a large photo of a family member or friend they want to call. The phone features a camera, video calling, and one screen with the six most important contacts. Caregivers also control the phone remotely and can monitor it with GPS tracking.

What is the Best Flip Phone for Seniors?

Jitterbug Flip2 $89*

The Jitterbug flip2 is designed for simplicity and ease of use. It features a large, easy-to-read screen, large buttons that are easy to press, and an urgent response button that can be quickly accessed in case of an emergency. The flip2 is perfect for people who want a phone that is simple to use and has all the features they need.

Is Jitterbug the Best Phone for Seniors?

Both the Jitterbug smartphone and flip phone are great options for seniors. Their straightforward design makes them ideal for seniors that don’t want the extra capabilities of the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy. If you just want to make phone calls and send texts this is the phone for you.

Best Cell Phone Plans for Seniors

Choosing the best cell phone plan for seniors can feel just as overwhelming as choosing the right phone. Here are the major cell phone providers:

  • AT&T Unlimited Basic
  • T-Mobile Essentials
  • Verizon Prepaid Start
  • Boost Mobile Unlimited
  • Cricket Wireless Unlimited More

These plans offer a variety of features that are important to seniors, such as unlimited talk, text, and data, as well as discounts on phones and plans for seniors. They also have simple plans that are easy to understand and use.

Here are some of the features that you should look for in a cell phone plan for seniors:

  • Unlimited talk, text, and data: This is a must-have for seniors who want to stay connected with friends and family.
  • Coverage: Make sure whichever plan you pick offers good coverage in your area.
  • Simple plans: Seniors should look for plans that are easy to understand and use.
  • Discounts on phones: Many cell phone carriers offer discounts on phones for seniors.
  • Emergency features: Some cell phone plans offer features that can help seniors in an emergency, such as fall detection and 24/7 customer support.
  • Customer support: Seniors should look for a cell phone carrier with good customer support in case they have any questions or problems.

*Pricing at the time of post. 

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Senior Moving Checklist & Tips

Planning a big move to a new home can be both exciting and overwhelming. Luckily, we’re experts at making the move to a senior living community feel like smooth sailing. The easiest transitions start with a checklist and an understanding of the available senior moving services in your area.

Moving Checklist for Seniors

The best moving checklists include a timeline. Moving is a significant undertaking and the earlier you plan it out, the less headaches you’ll have down the road. This is especially important if you or your loved one has lived in the same home for many years as there might be more clothing, furniture, and other items to go through.

Outline the important tasks, deadlines, and milestones. This will help you stay on track and organized throughout the process. Now it’s time to get your home ready.

Two months before move in

The longer timeline you give yourself the better, but a good rule of thumb is begin two months before your expected move in date. This will give you enough time to set an actual date and learn about what time of day and the week you can move in. Two months before you move you should complete the following tasks:

___ Finalize any paperwork needed for move in
___ Begin researching senior moving services
___ Plan to get three price quotes from different companies on moving and shipping services
___ Establish the dimensions of your new apartment and create a floor plan
___ Start sorting your household items into three groups: Keep, Donate, Trash
___ Order boxes, packing tape, bubble-wrap, and other packing supplies.
___ Fill out USPS change of address paperwork.

Sorting items can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Hold a garage sale to sell some of your items or order a dumpster to make junk removal easier. You can also reserve storage units if necessary.

One month before move in

With many of the major tasks either done or set in motion, spend your next month getting minor items in order.

___ Notify physicians of relocation
___ Schedule utility disconnection
___ Pack non-essentials like towels, linens, dishware
___ Notify your insurance, credit card company, social security, vehicle registration, pharmacy, and bank of your change of address
___ Cancel or change magazine and newspaper subscriptions

One to two weeks before move in

Now that all your ducks are in a row it’s time to double check everything is ready for your big move.

___ Confirm moving arrangements
___ Pack a bag with essentials that can get you through a few days until all your items are unpacked
___ Refill any prescriptions
___ Coordinate with your new community on move in requirements for furniture

Moving day

The day is finally here! It’s time to gather up any last belongings and get ready to embrace the next chapter of your life.

___ Supervise the move
___ Say farewell
___ Unpack essentials for kitchen, bathroom, and living room

After the move

Once you’ve got all your items moved into your new home take a moment to appreciate this new and exciting moment in your life—you did it! Make sure to take one last look at your former home once everything has been moved out.

Senior Moving Services

Creating a checklist for your move will make your transition less overwhelming and more exciting as you look forward to your new home. Be sure to check out our eBook or the National Association of Senior and Specialty Move Managers on what you need to know about making a move to senior living.

If you’re still in the process of selling your home, we’ve got you covered with tips on how to sell a senior’s home and tips for downsizing before a move too.

With Five Star Senior Living, we know it’s challenging to downsize your home, but we’re here to help you make the move and up-sizing your lifestyle with a world of choice, unparalleled comfort, and a community that empowers you. Find your community today.

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What is Independent Living?

Independent living communities, also known as retirement communities, are a senior housing option designed with the active adult in mind. They are often a good fit for older adults seeking freedom from the burdens of homeownership such as home maintenance and repairs because housekeeping tasks and maintenance chores are handled by the independent living community team members. This allows independent living residents to have more time to fully enjoy their retirement. Independent living comes in several forms:

  • Apartments in a dedicated independent living community or on the campus of a larger continuing care community
  • Maintenance-free villas or small cottages that are part of a retirement community

An Independent Living community nurtures an older adult’s interests and hobbies. These often include hosting travel groups, life-enrichment activities, continuing education classes and wellness programs. Many Independent Living residents also enjoy opportunities volunteering in the community.


Table of Contents


What is the average age of an independent living resident?

Independent living community residents range in age from the mid-50s to eighties and beyond.

What are considered independent living skills?

Independent living communities center around adults who are able to accomplish daily living tasks, also known as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), without assistance. Most senior living providers and health professionals group ADLs into the following categories:

Common Categories of Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)

Dressing Being able to dress and undress, choose appropriate clothing for the weather and have the dexterity to manage buttons, zippers and other fasteners.
Eating The ability to feed oneself (not including cooking).
Bathing or Showering This includes grooming activities such as shaving and brushing teeth and hair.
Continence Being able to control bowels and bladder or to manage incontinence independently.
Toileting The ability to use the toilet and get to the toilet independently.
Transferring This refers to functional mobility. For most people, functional mobility is being able to walk, get in and out of bed, and into and out of a chair. If the person is not ambulatory, they should be able to transfer from bed to wheelchair on their own.

 

There is a secondary category of activities of daily living that go a step further, known as Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). These are more complex tasks that often build on basic ADLs, but require a certain amount of physical dexterity, sound judgment, and organizational skills. IADLs are not essential functions of living like ADLs, though they are key to being able to live independently.

Instrumental activities of daily living typically include the following:

Common Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs)

Managing finances Paying bills and managing financial assets.
Managing transportation Either by driving, using public transportation or by organizing other means of transport.
Shopping and meal preparation Grocery shopping, cooking and any other activity required to prepare your own meals.
Housecleaning and home maintenance Keeping one’s living space reasonably clean and tidy and overall maintaining of the home.
Managing communication Using the telephone and managing mail.
Managing medications Obtaining medications and taking them as directed.

 

For adults who are able to perform ADLs and IADLs without assistance, independent living can be a great option in retirement.

What are the benefits of independent living?

Moving to an independent senior living community offers a host of benefits for active older adults. Here are some of the things older adults like most about independent living communities:

  • No maintenance or repairs: Independent living frees residents of the burdens of home ownership and maintenance. Moving to an independent living community means no more shoveling, mowing the lawn, fixing home appliances, or worrying about other maintenance issues.
  • Healthy meal options: Whether due to certain medications affecting appetite or requiring a special or more bland diet, finding appealing food or preparing food can become a burden for older adults. Independent living communities offer a variety of healthy meal options that still please the palate. Some communities accommodate restricted diets. For those who love to cook or make their own food for health reasons, some independent living communities offer a kitchen or kitchenette in each apartment so residents can continue to cook if they’d like to.
  • Amenities and conveniences: Depending on the independent living community, residents have access to a host of amenities and conveniences to make retirement life easier and more enjoyable. Housekeeping, transportation, trash removal, a beauty/barber shop, and meal plans are just a few standard services. Some independent living communities even have a concierge to help make arrangements for theater tickets, dry cleaning, travel plans, and more. In addition to amenities on campus, residents get to enjoy the amenities of the surrounding neighborhood. From access to tranquil walks in nature to bustling shopping days in the city, there are independent living communities in neighborhoods to suit many different lifestyles.
  • Socialization: Maintaining connections with other people is a crucial part of a balanced and happy life, especially as we age. Senior isolation is a serious issue for adults in retirement, and independent senior living communities offer meaningful ways to connect with friends and neighbors each day. Whether a quick cup of coffee in the dining room before heading over to morning devotionals or an afternoon of games, the built-in opportunities for socialization are a primary reason seniors move to independent living.
  • Safety and Security: As loved ones age, family members begin to worry about their safety at home. Independent living communities provide a safe and secure environment for older adults. From having staff onsite around the clock, to fire suppression systems and an emergency call system, seniors can feel safe living alone and know that help is right there day or night if needed.
  • Personal Assistance: Some independent living communities also have programs in place to offer assistance with personal care – this is a bit different from a full-on assisted living community (more about that below!). This allows an older adult to remain independent longer.

What’s the Difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living?

Independent and assisted living are both senior living communities with some key differences: Independent living is for older adults who are able to execute Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) without help. Assisted Living refers to a community for older adults who need a little extra help with activities of daily living to live their most independent life. Independent living is perfect for older adults looking to move on from home ownership but who can and want to live on their own. Assisted living is ideal for older adults who need help with daily activities but who don’t need continuous medical supervision. Here’s what each type of senior living entails in a bit more detail: 

  • Independent/Retirement Living Communities. Independent senior living communities aim to provide a maintenance-free lifestyle, and often offer dining programs, housekeeping, and laundry. A wide range of life enrichment activities and events make it easier for independent living residents to continue to enjoy an engaged, productive lifestyle.
  • Assisted Living Communities. These senior living communities offer a step up in services for seniors who need help with medication, bathing, dressing, and personal care. They provide restaurant-style dining and a selection of social activities, physical fitness programs, and other life enrichment activities.
  • Independent Living Residents are mobile, able to manage day-to-day life on their own, don’t want the hassle of keeping up a home, and are drawn to the social activities and stress-free living that independent living can provide.
  • Assisted Living Residents are seniors who need a little more help in their day, but who don’t require complex medical care. On their own, they may forget to take their medications or struggle to get to doctor’s appointments, and benefit from assistance with personal needs like bathing and dressing.

What’s the difference between independent living and home care?

Independent living refers to a community geared toward active, mobile older adults who want to continue to live an independent and socially connected lifestyle without the burden of home maintenance. Home care refers to older adult assistance brought into the home to help with everything from housekeeping and daily chores to more intensive medical care. Home care is sometimes also referred to as in-home care, custodial care, personal care, companion care, or homemaker services. Home care is generally used as a way to assist older adults that may be dealing with chronic illness, mobility issues, disabilities, or surgery recovery, and is a means to allow them to stay at home instead of moving into assisted living or a nursing home.

What’s the difference between independent living and senior apartments?

In some instances, an independent living community is structured as senior apartments, but the main difference is that senior apartments not affiliated with an independent living community are primarily focused on providing affordable senior housing for older adults, though there are luxury senior apartment communities as well. Senior apartments under an independent living community umbrella have added benefits and amenities like community activities, on-site services like a hair salon, dining options, and easy access to healthcare. Senior apartments allow independent older adults to maintain their active lifestyle without the upkeep of home ownership in either instance.

What’s the difference between independent living and a 55+ community?

Although there’s no ‘official’ definition of independent living vs. a 55+ community, there are key differences in how they tend to be described or categorized. In general, independent living communities offer a higher level of amenities and service, making for a stress-free living experience, whereas 55+ communities’ amenities are more varied depending on the complex. Another major difference is that in 55+ communities, it’s common for residents to own their home, whereas in independent living communities, residents are most often renting. You can see some common differences between independent living and 55+ communities below.

55+ Communities vs. Independent Living Comparison Table

55+ Communities Independent Living
Services Provided 55+ complexes offer the convenience of providing maintenance of the building, grounds and apartment. Independent living communities offer a stress-free lifestyle where the hassles of life—like home upkeep, cooking and cleaning—are taken care of.
Amenities There may be a clubhouse with planned social activities in a 55+ community. The availability and quality of amenities varies widely by community. Convenient access to on-site shared dining spaces, pools, libraries, game rooms and a wide variety of community activities are common in independent living communities.
Own or rent? There are many 55+ communities where residents own their houses or condominiums, while others may offer rental properties. Home ownership is often governed by a homeowners association (HOA) and includes an HOA fee. Independent living residents generally rent their houses or apartments, although the “rent” includes much more than a roof over one’s head. While renting is more typical of independent living, neither community type is exclusively one or the other.
How much does it cost? The cost to rent a senior apartment varies and can range from low-income senior apartments, to standard rate, to luxury senior apartments. Communities vary widely in terms of cost, which can range from $2,000 to $5,000 or more a month. A number of factors determine the cost, like the type of community and location.

Who is independent living best suited for?

Independent Living is a great senior living option for older adults who can manage mostly on their own but don’t want the hassle of keeping up a home. Independent living is perfect for seniors who are mobile, who don’t suffer from major health or cognitive issues, and who find the social aspect of independent living activities and amenities appealing.

What does independent living cost?

Independent living communities vary widely in terms of cost, which can range from $2,000 to $5,000 or more a month. When considering everything that is included when moving to independent living, what may initially seem expensive ends up being a great deal. Services covered in the monthly fee at an independent living community include things that would cost much more when purchased separately, like lawn care, property maintenance, and housekeeping.

A number of factors determine what you pay for independent living. Whatever your budget, chances are there is an independent living community that meets your needs.

Some factors that influence the cost of independent living include:

Type of independent living community – A stand-alone independent living community might offer fewer amenities but may cost less than an independent living community located on the campus of a continuing care community. Many independent living communities are priced similarly to other apartments in the area.

Location – As with other housing types, location plays a factor in cost. Major cities typically have a higher cost of living which translates to higher monthly fees. Rates will be higher in more desirable neighborhoods. Square footage of accommodations at an independent living community will also influence the monthly fee.

To learn more about pricing different senior living options, download our FREE Guide to the Cost of Senior Living eBook.

Is Independent Senior Living the same as a Retirement Community?

Independent living communities are often also called retirement communities. The terms are interchangeable and refer to a community for seniors that has amenities and services that make life easier and more social while maintaining independence.

How to Know When to Transition to Independent Living

As you or a loved one approaches retirement, feelings toward home ownership can shift, and priorities in life can change. It’s not uncommon for empty nesters to want to downsize, or for retirees to want to move closer to their children and grandchildren. Housekeeping and home maintenance may begin to feel more like a burden than a joy, and it can be easy to start feeling isolated or have difficulty maintaining a vibrant social life. Independent living helps take away the worry associated with living at home (for both residents and their adult children) such as safety concerns, and provides an enriching and active environment for seniors to relax and enjoy the retirement they’ve worked so hard for. If you find that you are feeling like you’d like to take some of the stressors of home maintenance, cooking or cleaning, and other day-to-day priorities off your shoulders, considering a move to independent living could be the right thing for you.

Talking About Moving to Independent Living with a Loved One

Adults that move to independent living communities are still mobile, active, and able to tend to their needs without assistance. Unlike adults who are struggling to take care of themselves and may need to consider assisted living, retirees who could benefit from independent living are able to manage their lives in their current homes. But you may notice that your loved one is getting overwhelmed with things like taking care of the lawn, scheduling repairs or keeping up with housekeeping. Perhaps your mom has cooked for the family her whole life and you can tell she’d really enjoy being able to have cooking as an option but not a requirement anymore. Or maybe as your parents lose members of their social circle you sense some loneliness and isolation. These are great segues to bringing up the possibility of independent living with your loved ones. Reassuring them that they will still maintain full independence but just have certain things taken care of that can make life easier and more vibrant can help encourage a transition that can benefit the whole family.

What Support is Included at an Independent Senior Living Community?

Support across independent living communities generally includes some or all of the following:

  • home maintenance and groundskeeping
  • housecleaning
  • healthy on-site dining options, including the ability to have kitchens/kitchenettes if desired
  • senior activities and events
  • laundry service
  • transportation assistance
  • 24/7 security and on-call help

Different independent living communities have different amenities. Some independent living communities are part of a larger senior care organization, and in these instances, there may be more readily available medical support or the ability to transition into assisted living or make use of assisted living services on the same campus if the need arises. For other standalone independent living communities, these may function more like a luxury apartment complex.

Maintaining an Active Senior Lifestyle in Independent Living

Whether you’re into arts and crafts or running marathons, independent living communities offer ample opportunities for residents to continue to enjoy the activities they love, and discover new ones! Here are just some of the ways independent living communities help residents enjoy an active senior lifestyle:

  • Special events and social gatherings
  • Cards and games
  • Movie nights
  • Senior fitness classes and senior personal training
  • Coordinated group trips and outings
  • Arts and crafts
  • On-site dining
  • Clubs and activities around hobbies – birdwatching, nature walks, etc.
  • Events for families to enjoy together
  • And more

How to Find the Right Independent Living Facility for Your Needs

With so many options available, and many with similar grounds and amenities, finding the independent living community that’s the right fit can feel daunting. More important than amenities, though, is finding a place to be able to settle into and really be a part of, to feel comfortable socially and accepted for who you are.

As you research different independent living communities, take your time browsing websites, reading testimonials, and be sure to schedule a virtual or in-person tour for your top choices if that’s an option for you.

We offer personalized senior living virtual tours over Zoom and FaceTime that include a guided visit through the neighborhood, meetings with team members, and a one-on-one with a sales counselor to answer any questions you may have. This is not only a safe option, but can be invaluable for those considering a long distance move who might not be nearby.

Find an Independent Living Community Near You

Finding an independent living community that’s perfect for you is a major decision and one that can have an enormously positive impact on your life. Want to learn more about independent living at Five Star? Find a senior living community near you.

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55+ Communities vs Independent Living: How do they Differ?

You hear it all the time: Sixty is the new forty. Seventy is the new fifty. With people living longer, yesterday’s definitions of “old” no longer apply.

Today’s older adults are redefining what is possible later in life. More and more, stories appear in the news about people in their seventies and eighties—and even nineties—running road races, doing gymnastics, performing stand-up comedy, even going into the recording studio.

Perhaps that’s why, just as “old” no longer describes today’s aging adults, “retirement community” no longer describes the incredible variety of living options available to people in their later years. The range is remarkable. Some choose 55-plus communities that attract empty-nesters. Many prefer independent living communities that provide activities and dining. And others opt for assisted living communities, where residents need help with daily tasks such as getting dressed in addition to having access to nursing care. No matter what level of services and amenities offered, however, what these senior living communities have in common is that they are not about slowing down but ramping up—and living life to its fullest.

55+ Communities vs. Independent Living

For most healthy adults considering moving to a senior living community for the first time, the two most common options are 55-plus and independent living communities. Although there’s no hard-and-fast definition of either type, there are key differences in how they tend to be described or categorized. Understanding those differences and what is more typical of one over the other can help you evaluate which would better serve your needs.

55+ Communities vs. Independent Living Comparison Table

 

55+ Communities

Independent Living

What services are provided?

55+ complexes offer the convenience of providing maintenance of the building, grounds and apartment.

 

Independent living communities offer a stress-free lifestyle where the hassles of life—like home upkeep, cooking and cleaning—are taken care of so you can spend more time enjoying all the activities and amenities your community offers.

What amenities are provided?

There may be a clubhouse with planned social activities in a 55+ community. The availability and quality of amenities can vary widely by complex.

Convenient access to on-site shared dining spaces, pools, libraries, game rooms and a wide variety of community activities ensures that there’s never a shortage of ways to spend your days in independent living.

Own or rent? There are many 55+ communities where residents own their houses or condominiums, while others may offer rental properties. Bear in mind that 55-plus communities featuring home ownership are likely governed by a homeowners association (HOA) and include an HOA fee. Also factor into your decision-making the lack of flexibility when selling a house in a 55+ community. Often the choice is limited to approved realtors and the target population of purchasers is limited to the 55+ age range. Independent living residents generally rent their houses or apartments, although the “rent” includes much more than a roof over one’s head. Ownership is more typical of 55+ communities, while renting is more typical of independent living, but neither community type is exclusively one or the other.

How much does it cost?

The cost to rent a senior apartment varies. There are, however, affordable options like low-income apartments that cap rent and utilities at about 30 percent of income. Market rate apartments with costs at or slightly below the cost of local all-age apartments and luxury senior apartments are other available options.

Communities vary widely in terms of cost, which can range from $2,000 to $5,000 or more a month. A number of factors determine what you pay, like the type of community and location. Download our FREE Guide to the Cost of Senior Living eBook to learn more and get the answers you need.

How do I find a community near me?

Your best bet is to search online for 55+ communities or contact your local housing authority and ask about senior apartment options in your area.

The best place to start is to search online for “independent living communities” or use Five Star’s easy Find a Community search tool to discover select communities in your area.

4 Important Questions to Ask When Deciding Between a 55+ Community and Independent Living

Are you a DIYer or are you ready to give up the to-do list?

People living in 55-plus communities can purchase housekeeping, lawn care and other services just as they could for their prior home. But that means managing various vendors and costs can add up quickly. Independent living residents enjoy the convenience of living within a community where services and amenities such as housekeeping, dining and transportation are included in the monthly fee. In some instances, independent living residents have the option of assistance with daily tasks and support services if needed, which is important for residents who have chronic or degenerative conditions.

Do you like an active social life?

While both options present opportunities for social gatherings, independent living communities typically have program directors who fill the calendar with game nights, happy hours and plenty of other ways to make new friends and have fun. With 55-plus communities, the level of social activity may depend on the particular character of the neighborhood, especially if the community lacks an in-house programming component. Another important difference is that independent living communities typically include dining services led by highly trained chefs, while some 55-plus communities may offer communal kitchen and dining spaces but no food services.

Another amenity offered by independent living is complimentary transportation within a radius. This is a popular feature for individuals who are experiencing diminished vision or simply prefer to be chauffeured.

Would you like to worry less about the future?

No one likes to admit it, but eventually our bodies wear down and need some tender loving care. Some independent living communities include access to onsite physical and occupational therapy, assistive services and nursing care, all to help residents maintain their highest level of independence for as long as possible. Availability of these services may vary widely in 55-plus communities.

How do you define “independence?”

For some, independence means doing everything or most things yourself, as is more likely in a 55-plus community. For others, independence may include finally being free of household chores, maintenance, grocery shopping and other tasks so you can do more of what you love or have been meaning to get to—such as traveling the world, visiting the grandkids or pursuing a hobby or passion that for years has been filed under “Someday.” If the latter, an independent living community may be for you.

Independent living communities: a greater value?

We’re biased, of course, but based on all these criteria, the scales seem to tip in favor of independent living communities as offering greater value—and a smarter long-term strategy—when considering options for a “retirement” community. If you would like to be freed of home maintenance, errands and obligations, and instead spend your time choosing from an array of activities and outings with a lively social circle of friends—what some might call real independence—take a look at independent living communities. There’s nothing retiring about them!

See the difference

Make your declaration of independence. Find out if there’s a Five Star Senior Living community near you. We’ll arrange a tour so you can see for yourself just how much you have to look forward to.

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How Much Does Independent Living Cost? And is it Worth it?


Retirement is something most people look forward to for years. Trips abroad, seeing the country, rediscovering hobbies and reawakening passions long submerged during the childrearing and working years is a vivid image for many. Once you retire, however, things might not go as hoped or planned. The household chores and maintenance that kept you busy all those years haven’t gone away, and sometimes they’ve become harder to do. A bigger portion of your budget goes toward hired services, such as lawn care. Those costs and the cost of upkeep for your home can then limit your travel plans, and you may feel ready to direct your time and energy toward your family and living life in retirement to the fullest without being burdened by the stress of home upkeep. This is where independent living comes in.

Moving to an independent living community can be a big transition, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by different amenities and fees when looking for the right independent living community for you. This article will provide answers to all of your questions, including:

  • How much does independent living actually cost, and is it worth it?
  • How does the cost of independent living compare with staying at home?
  • Can I afford independent living? How can I pay for it?

Read on to learn more about what living in an independent living community is like, how much it costs, and how you can make it work (financially and otherwise!) for you.


Table of Contents


What is an independent living community? 

Independent living communities, also known as retirement communities, are senior living neighborhoods designed especially for older adults. They are a good option for folks in their sixties, seventies, eighties and beyond who want to spend more time living and less time ‘doing,’ as in handling the burdens of home ownership.

Are independent living communities expensive?

You may be under the impression that independent living communities are expensive, but you may be surprised by the value they offer. In fact, once you consider all you get when you move to independent living, you might consider it a best buy.

How much does independent living cost? 

The average cost of senior independent living in the US is between $2,000-$5,000 per month, but varies widely depending on several factors like location, services, and amenities. Five Star communities come in all shapes and sizes and are located across the country in rural and urban settings. Each community offers unique amenities, but they all offer the same dedication and excellence to residents.

Factors that Affect How Much Independent Living Costs

Type of independent living community. A stand-alone independent living community, for example, might offer fewer features and amenities but be more cost effective. Many independent living communities are priced similarly to a typical apartment in the area. An independent living community located on the campus of a continuing care community, however, will likely come with more services and amenities, which may result in a higher price tag.

Location. The location of an independent living community has a big impact on its cost, as cost of living varies widely in different areas of the country. Major metropolitan areas typically have multiple senior living options but a higher cost of living. That translates to higher monthly fees. Cost of independent living will be higher in the more desirable neighborhoods. Size matters, too. Square footage of your independent living floor plan will influence the monthly fee.

Services and Amenities Included in Independent Living. The financial, physical, and emotional costs of caring for your lawn, keeping up with home maintenance, and cooking every meal can add up. What’s important to remember is that the services provided by an independent living community come at a cost that is actually a bargain when you consider what it could cost to purchase services separately. Lawn care, upkeep, housekeeping—these costs can add up quickly.

What is included in the average monthly cost for independent living?

The true value of independent living goes far beyond a new place to call home. Independent living communities offer a wide variety of amenities and services included in the monthly cost to make your retirement as stress-free and enriching as possible. Amenities and fees vary by community, but here is just a sampling of what may be included in your monthly costs when moving to an independent living community:

  • Housekeeping, maintenance and groundskeeping services One aspect of independent living communities that cannot be overstated is the convenience factor. There are team members to take care of chores, such as housekeeping, maintenance, snow removal and lawn care.
  • Spacious floor plans including studio, one, or two-bedroom apartments. When it comes to senior living housing, there’s a misconception that rooms are small, institutional, or look like college dorms. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Five Star independent living apartments are charmingly designed, comfortably spacious, and come in a variety of sizes and styles. Plus, every apartment comes equipped with great amenities to make you feel right at home.
  • Nutritious, chef-prepared meals served restaurant-style in the dining room. Older adults sometimes say their relationship with food has changed with age—not just eating but cooking as well. That’s understandable when you consider that some medications decrease appetite and special diets limit options. Chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease also play a part. Take out the salt and sugar, and suddenly food becomes less interesting. Most independent living communities are aware of this and offer a variety of healthy meal options that still please the palate. Some communities accommodate restricted diets. For those who love to cook or make their own food for health reasons, some offer a kitchen or kitchenette in each apartment to give the home chef a culinary playground.
  • Utilities. The cost of utilities is different in every community, but often are included in the monthly room costs. These utilities can include cable television, electricity, internet, housekeeping, and water all bundled together for one convenient monthly cost.
  • A sense of community and a full calendar of active senior activities and clubs to choose from. Moving to an independent living community can significantly improve older adults’ quality of life. Residents in these communities are often close in age and share similar interests with their neighbors. Communities also offer both formal and informal opportunities for connecting. A morning cup of coffee and conversation in the lounge or garden is a great way to start the day. Joining friends for restaurant-style lunch or dinner makes mealtime more enjoyable and meaningful. And playing a game of cards in the den can end the day with a smile. There’s no shortage of activities to dive into. (In fact, you may find you have too much to do, but in a good way.)
  • Transportation services for errands, appointments and other community outings. Independent living communities at Five Star offer you the ability to get where you need to go. Transportation services offer scheduled rides to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, and fun community outings to museums and entertainment.
  • Wellness programs and senior-friendly fitness activities. Onsite senior fitness classes build not just strength and flexibility but social connections. Feel refreshed after a sit and stretch class, head to the pool for water aerobics, or join a walking club to make your mornings active.
  • Safe and secure environment where medical care is easily accessible if needed. Because safety is often a concern—especially as people age and walking becomes more difficult—residences are designed with the needs of older adults in mind, such as handrails, grab bars, emergency call systems and good lighting. If a medical emergency does occur, there are systems in place to summon help.
  • Access to on-site amenities. Enjoy life at home with movie nights, game clubs, barber shop/hair salon, heated pool, library, physical therapy services, and more.

How much does independent living cost compared to aging in place?

The cost saving benefits of independent living don’t stop at utilities and home maintenance. Independent living at a senior living community gives you the freedom and purpose to pursue hobbies, make meaningful social connections, and stay engaged with an array of activities. Many communities offer independent living and assisted living under the same roof so you can age in place if you require more medical and daily assistance. The transition from independent to assisted living can be smooth while you reap the benefits of a stress-free lifestyle focused on enhancing your independence.

How can I pay for independent living?

Most seniors pay for independent living with private funds; however, the monthly cost of independent living can become much more manageable through senior living financing options like:

  • A Bridge Loan or Senior Line-of-Credit: These short-term, “interest-only” loans help fund assisted living costs until the necessary money comes in.
  • Deferred Annuity with Long-term Care Rider: Rather than making monthly insurance payments, the investor places a lump sum of money into a deferred annuity. They can then withdraw the money, tax-free and without any IRS penalties, to pay for assisted living.
  • Life Settlement Accounts: With a life settlement agreement, a senior sells their life insurance to a third party and receives a lump sum payment.
  • Veteran’s Benefits: US veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans can receive monthly benefits to pay for assisted living through the Aid and Attendance Benefit.

The Five Star Difference: Stress-Free Independent Living

Moving to an independent living community is much more than a real estate decision; it’s a quality of life decision. The programs, services and amenities our independent living communities offer can take away the worry and add a lot of joy—not a bad tradeoff. Five Star’s independent living experts are happy to help answer your questions about independent living costs. In a Five Star independent living community, our residents enjoy the value and the active lifestyle they deserve. Most importantly, though, they are welcomed into a new home sweet home where life is stress-free, and friends become family. Download our FREE Guide to the Cost of Senior Living eBook and find out if there’s a Five Star community near you. Contact us to learn more.

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How Often Does a Healthy Senior Need to See the Doctor?

Let’s face it, few of us are excited to make a doctor’s appointment. If you feel well and consider yourself healthy, it’s easy to think you don’t need an annual checkup. So, is it really necessary to see the doctor when you aren’t sick?

How frequently you should see a doctor when you feel healthy is a question often debated by adults. This is especially true for those who suffer from white coat syndrome, a term used to describe anxiety experienced during physician appointments. For some, white coat syndrome can be serious enough to cause a rapid rise in blood pressure.

While there’s no hard and fast rule on how often a healthy senior should visit their doctor, at least one wellness visit a year is essential.

4 Reasons Seniors Need a Yearly Physical Exam

 

  1. Screenings: A yearly checkup gives your physician an opportunity to evaluate the need for and schedule routine health screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies.
  2. Bloodwork: This visit will also give your doctor an opportunity to order and review routine bloodwork. Cholesterol screening, vitamin deficiencies, and diabetes testing are a few common ones.
  3. Immunizations: Your doctor will likely discuss an immunization schedule with you. This can include when to get a flu shot and if you need a pneumonia or shingles vaccine.
  4. Early intervention: When you are feeling great, an annual physical lets your physician confirm there’s nothing wrong. It also gives the doctor an opportunity to identify small issues before they become big problems. For example, frequent headaches might be a symptom of seasonal allergies that can be managed without medication. Your physician can likely offer some suggestions.

Take Advantage of the Medicare Wellness Visit

Medicare Part B and many Medicare Advantage plans will pay for one physician visit each year to assess a senior’s health. If you’ve been participating in Medicare Part B for at least one year, you are entitled to a Medicare Wellness Visit.

Fortunately, your Medicare Part B deductible won’t apply to this visit. However, there may be a co-pay or deductible that applies to any screenings or tests your doctor orders. If you have questions, speak with the billing specialist at your physician’s office for clarification.

Health & Wellness at Five Star Senior Living

Seniors looking for other ways to stay healthy may also want to consider moving to a senior living community. Independent living often provides ample access to activities and facilities. For example, Five Star Senior Living communities prioritize wellness and many offer amenities like pools, walking paths, fitness centers, and more. Dining and nutrition is something we take pride in too.

To learn more about the the healthy lifestyles a senior living community can provide older adults, contact us today!

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Planning a Summer Vacation with a Grandchild

If you’re considering taking a summer vacation with the grandkids this year, you aren’t alone. Intergenerational trips are becoming increasingly popular. A road trip provides opportunities to bond and make lasting memories. The key is to plan and prepare well in advance.

4 Tips for a Successful Road Trip with the Grandkids

  1. Choose a destination that appeals to everyone.

Keeping your budget in mind, talk with the grandkids about a few destinations. Ask them for suggestions too. If you haven’t done this before, consider taking a short trip close to the grandchildren’s home.

  1. Consider your mode of transportation.

While air travel might be faster, a road trip can be more fun. The key is moderating how long you stay cooped up in the car. Make the drive pleasant with car games and fun breaks along the way. Dinosaur parks, petting zoos, and other unique attractions can be entertaining for kids of all ages.

  1. Reserve rooms in family-friendly hotels.

Not every hotel is geared towards children. Even well-behaved kids can be noisy and busy. The last thing you want to worry about is keeping the kids quiet. Depending on the destination, this list from Trivago magazine may help you find a kid-friendly hotel.

  1. Balance healthy food choices with fun ones.

While the grandkids might try their best to convince you a diet of milkshakes, burgers, and fries is healthy, we all know it’s not. Foods high in sugar, trans fat, and sodium aren’t good for anyone, but saying no repeatedly isn’t fun. Try to balance healthy choices with special requests from the grandkids.

Staycations with a Grandparent

If a road trip with the grandchildren isn’t feasible, consider a staycation instead. Even if you live in an assisted living community, you can still have fun with the grandkids this summer. “Visiting Assisted Living: 7 Fun Activities for the Grandkids” may give you some ideas.

If you are searching for an independent or assisted living community, we hope you will consider Five Star. With 270 communities in over 30 states, there are a variety of options from which to choose. Call us at (853) 457-8271 to learn more!

5 Benefits of Moving to a Senior Living Community when You Are an Active Older Adult

You have a big, beautiful house. But since your adult children have moved out, it’s empty more often than not. As you and your spouse struggle to keep up with the housework, home maintenance, and landscaping, you might wonder if it’s time to move to a senior living community.

Moving to a senior living community before you need assisted living, nursing, or memory care carries many advantages, especially for active adults.

Why Move to a Senior Living Community?

Here are a few benefits:

1. Never worry about yard work or home maintenance
One of the key advantages of a senior community is saying good-bye to yard work, snow removal, and home maintenance. These things are included in your monthly senior living fees. You may even have the option to add housekeeping services.

2. Pay one monthly price for most of your expenses
We’re not going to tell you senior living communities are inexpensive. But when you add up your monthly living expenses from cable and internet access to your property taxes and everything you spend on entertainment, you’ll discover that senior living is more affordable than you thought.

Most residents in a senior community don’t need a car, since almost everything they need is located on-site and transportation services are provided to get around town. That’s another cost savings you might not have considered.

3. Enjoy many amenities close to home
As you factor in the cost savings of having so many things you love to do so close to home, you’ll also want to consider the convenience. Fitness classes, adult education, special events, and entertainment are all located on-site, along with gourmet dining options staffed by professional chefs.

Whether you like hiking, cycling, golf, gardening or weight training, you can find a senior community that offers your favorite hobbies.

4. Make new friends with similar interests
While you’re out and about in your community doing what you love, you’ll meet other seniors who enjoy the same things. If you find your social circle has gotten smaller, you can join a music group, a yoga class, or take an on-site class to meet interesting people your own age.

5. Move while you’re healthy
It’s stressful for a senior who is experiencing changes in their mental and physical health to sell their home and move to assisted living. The burden of the sale of your home may fall on your children, who feel stressed to accept an offer so you can move.

Take Control of Your Future

Take control of your retirement and your future well-being by choosing the retirement community of your dreams now. Talk to a team member at the Five Star Living community nearest you to decide if it’s time to start enjoying your retirement in a whole new way. 

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