Is an Independent Apartment the Best Choice for Me?

Senior housing options

Making the decision to move because of economics, health, or other reasons is stressful but exciting at the same time. Psychologists state that the heightened level of stress that comes with change is good in a way; it is our body and mind's manner of meeting the challenge through adrenaline and endorphins.

When it comes to finding a new HOME, life changes and with it and so do our list of needs and wants when it comes to "feathering a new nest". Currently, there are generally five main groups of housing options for seniors.

Housing Options for Seniors

Assisted Living Communities

These facilities offer a wide range of food, medical, and other services depending upon level of care selected. The floor plans are optional, along with the costs structure of each. Most services are a la carte but include meals. These communities are usually staffed with non-medical and medical personnel, depending upon how "active the resident" and have a variety of social events.

Full Retirement / Nursing Homes

They specialize in the care of bedridden patients in need of more care like delivery of medicines, medical care, They specialize in the care of bedridden patients in need of "hands on" care like delivery of medicines, illness/ injury medical care, feeding, and specialized treatments. These types of facilities are usually staffed by medical personnel and equipment, and provide a varied amount of social activities.

Home Ownership in Senior Neighborhoods

If new, the homes are "ranch style" or the main floor has a bedroom and occasionally a half basement and garage. Showers may have some type of seating/grab bars, and countertops and appliances offered at a lowered placement to accommodate a wheelchair (if specified).

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

A graduating concept in senior living that allows residents to buy their residence (which usually begins with an independent apartment) and then provide for transfer to other types of residence units within the community as resident care increases with need; up to and including providing 24 hour medical / nursing type care. (Usually a 3 tiered approach of lifestyles within one community).

Independent Nest - Active Apartment Communities

These apartments restrict ages from 55+ and/or the 62+ age groups and offer a mixture of living options: cottages, two stories, or mid and high rises buildings. The physical features of the building designed to suit the "needs" of senior residents. For instance, hallways within the common areas of the buildings provide wider entrances that allow for walkers or wheelchairs.

The Community Amenity Features keep residents active through:

  • Fitness Centers
  • Grill/Picnic Areas
  • Screened Verandas
  • Outdoor Gardening Spots
  • Putting greens
  • Game/Theater rooms
  • Laundry Centers
  • Extra Storage Closets
  • Hair Salons
  • Libraries
  • Computer Center

Food service is normally tied to some social activities (regular coffee hours, holidays, etc.), and limited local transportation to grocery and retail centers, and a bevy of Social Activities.

Floor plan selections

Options range from studio apartments (living and sleeping in one large area) to two or three bedroom apartments. Apartment interior features:

  • Fully equipped kitchen appliances and cabinets
  • Washer/dryer appliances /connections
  • Extra large closets
  • Ceiling fans
  • Smoke detectors
  • Grab bars
  • Repair maintenance
  • Window coverings.

Flooring is a mix of faux hardwood and carpeting in order to assist in sound insulation, and/or walkers or wheelchairs.

Accommodations for Special Needs

Most Senior Apartment Communities have a percentage of apartments (omitted come) equipped and designed for those residents with Special Needs (i.e., wheelchair bound, sight / hearing limitations, etc.) Apartment features may include:

  • Lowered countertops
  • Special appliances for ease of use (designed for access)
  • Interior doorbell lights to alert front door visitors
  • Fixtures designed for blind/touch activation

If the community is recently built, the local code may specify a percentage of the (8 to 12%) of the total number of apartments to come equipped with special features in place.

It's the resident's responsibility to request or to state if they have any special needs for design modifications. Apartment owners/managers cannot assume based on the "appearance" of a resident, that special needs are necessary. Special Accommodations to an apartment or community policies can sometimes be granted by the owner/management company upon a written request by a resident. However, in certain instances, the resident is the one to bear the cost of any physical modification to the apartment and may also be required to remove any modifications and return the apartment to its original condition upon vacating the apartment.

Parking can become a battleground amongst neighbors; as many residents qualify and carry a Handicapped Parking Permit. However, the percentage, size, and location of the "handicapped parking spaces" rarely meet the demand by qualifying residents.

Realistically, there are only so many spots that are geographically close to an exit/entrance door; depending upon the design of the community site. If possible, buy a small fold up trolley and use this as a conveyance for transporting your items from the car to door and vice versa.

Good News to consider when selecting an apartment designed for Independent Active Seniors, there are services and ways to tailor needed assistance from outside agencies and family and friends. From the delivery of meals, visiting nurse checks, physical rehab specialists, and location choice - you can still have your cake and eat it too!

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