The Complete Resource Guide to Finding the Right Independent Living Community.
Getting older doesn’t necessarily mean losing one’s independence and self-determination. In Georgia, many seniors enjoy an active and autonomous lifestyle by moving to an Independent Living Community. These communities, often referred to as Retirement Communities, Senior Apartment living, Active Adult communities, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities, offer a variety of activities, amenities and services, however they do differ from one another.
Stated simply, Independent Living is a senior living option for those who can maintain a mostly autonomous lifestyle but desire a more socially engaging, stimulating, and secure environment. In Georgia, home care services may be contracted with outside agencies to meet minimal support needs of the senior. Many times this service is onsite for your convenience.
This level of senior living is typically designed for those 55 years of age and older who need no or very little assistance with daily living activities. There generally is no medical or nursing service available however these communities may offer wellness nurses (such as found in Continuing Care Retirement Communities) and programs and services that promote a healthy and dynamic lifestyle. This type of senior housing is maintenance-free and generally scaled for ease of movement and convenience.
Many of these communities offer centralized recreational activities found in clubhouses or community centers. In addition, a range of social activities may be offered that enable seniors to interact with others through fitness, swimming, as well as educational programs, arts and crafts, special events, dinners, dances, and many other programs.
Because of the confusion with ‘retirement communities’ and the wide variety, size, location and structure of options, it is important to obtain a comprehensive list of all services and amenities that are available with the communities under consideration. Many will find the following:
Many of these communities take into consideration the psychological and social needs as well as the privacy and security requirements of their residents and gear their mission and programs toward those that promote personal fulfillment and advancement, an active lifestyle in the community, health and wellness, and provide a menu of engaging offerings that augment a style of carefree living.
Many seniors may desire more socialization as they have been living alone for an extended period, may feel that maintaining a home is getting to be too much, or want a change of venue to experience more opportunities for interactive activities and programs. The reasons for transitioning to an Independent Living Community are as many and varied as the number of independent living choices available in Georgia.
While any change of living circumstances may bring on feelings of anxiety and sadness, some of the things to review when considering a move to an Independent Living Community include:
It must be pointed out that if the senior has many personal care needs or if medical needs make it imperative for 24 hour care, an Independent Living Community is not the appropriate level of senior living and either an Assisted Living Community or Skilled Nursing Facility should be explored. Some seniors take advantage of the lower Independent Living rates (rather than an Assisted Living Community) and contract with home care agencies for some assistance with activities of daily living, light housekeeping, meal preparation and other supportive services.
It can be emotionally difficult and for some personally embarrassing to give up the ‘family home’ and move to an Independent Living Community but the gains must be weighed against the perceived losses. Seniors may regret losing control or the fact that the property has become too burdensome or the neighborhood no longer holds the attraction it once held and feelings of loss and even anger may arise. These feelings of vulnerability and grief are quite normal and should be talked out with family or professionals if necessary before any move in completed. Going forward, the gains in security, socialization, activities and personal growth within a carefree lifestyle should be accentuated.
Most Independent Living Communities provide private rooms, smaller complete kitchens, and offer meals (seniors may opt for one, two or no meals) in a group dining room.
Because this level of senior housing requires the most ‘self-reliant’ individuals, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance plans do not cover any of the expenses. The senior is responsible for all costs associated with independent living.
Some seniors may qualify for Government Subsidized or Low-Income Housing (sometimes referred to as Section 8 Housing or Senior Apartments) should they meet the income guidelines for such housing. Atlanta Senior Advocates can provide a list of these facilities however we are unable to tour or offer other services. There is often a waiting list of 3 months to 2 years for this type of subsidized housing.
Retirement Homes and Retirement Communities are often neighborhoods consisting of independent or semi-independent housing. For such, a real estate agent or property developer can offer the best assistance in locating this type of senior housing. Costs vary on the type of structure chosen.
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) require a large ‘buy-in’ fee, usually between $150,000 and $400,000. While these large scale communities offer Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Skilled Nursing Facility levels of housing, seniors must enter the community from the Independent Living criteria. Should a senior require the Assisted Living level or Skilled Nursing care, the senior cannot qualify for admission to the CCRC (only current residents of the CCRC may move into the Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Facility). In addition, there is a monthly fee ranging from $3000 to $5000 for the CCRC.
There are more than 90 independent living facilities in Georgia, 40 of which are in the greater Atlanta region. The average cost of a true Independent Living Community in Atlanta is approximately $2500 per month though some communities may charge between $1900 and $3500 per month. If both spouses are relocating to an Independent Living Community, there is often a ‘second person fee’ that is not included in the initial stated fee. Seniors and families need to be careful in determining what is covered by the monthly rental or fee as some services are charged separately and some communities have association fees apart from the monthly rental/fee. Atlanta Senior Advocates directly assists seniors and families by touring the Independent Living Communities with you to assure all the right questions are asked and determine the appropriate fit for the senior weighing such factors as lifestyle, personal needs, costs, and social engagement.
Atlanta Senior Advocates represents families, seniors and decision makers in exploring all viable Independent Living Community options and provides information and guidance so that the most suitable Independent Living Community for the individual is carefully selected.
We understand the complexity of this decision to relocate that faces seniors and families and we are sensitive to the nuances involved in locating the right community. Our database will provide a list of communities that is directly related to the senior’s budget, wants and needs, and we will provide all the details of each community so that key information is known before any site visits are scheduled.
We will also ask questions that offer a deeper understanding of the community’s operation, standards and requirements. These may include asking about:
Atlanta Senior Advocates is your trusted source for assistance in identifying and selecting the Independent Living Community in Atlanta that best matches the senior’s expectations and budget with the environment and amenity offerings of the community.