Understanding the Cost of Living: Independent Living

Understanding the Cost of Living: Independent Living

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Independent living is the best way for you or your senior to get the care they need, while still keeping their sense of independence. This option allows the most flexibility and can sometimes be the cheapest option depending on how much care your or your loved one needs. Since the program is not specifically run by an organization, it is up to you to set up housing, at-home care, insurance, meals, and any other independent living necessities. Independent living communities provide an atmosphere where peers, and a functioning staff work to make you or your loved one’s care as pleasant as possible.

Cost Benefits of Independent Living

Many seniors choose an independent living community because it eases the burden of everyday stressors. Simple chores like taking out the trash or mowing the lawn are now taken care of.

Fewer Bills

Most independent living communities will offer a single rental price that will include water, heating, electrical, trash and any other bill that previously came knocking on your door every day. No more stressing about due dates or money-orders, just pay your monthly rent and spend the rest of your days admiring your perfectly manicured yard (cut by the staff of course).

Medical Help

Almost all independent living communities will be equipped with a medical staff designed to take care of any current or future ailments. Some communities even have their own pharmacy, physician, and emergency care center. Staff members can also help administer medication and treatment on a regular basis.

One of the biggest concerns many seniors will have is their treatment by the staff. Get to know the staff that works directly with residents of the community; the CNAs (certified nursing assistants) aids, and resident assistants or caregivers and learn their names and what they do, both officially and unofficially. Thank them for a job well done at every opportunity. Written thank you notes are especially appreciated. They will be in charge of your elder, so it’s important to work together with them to ensure that their time in the community goes smoothly.

Independent Living Options

When joining an independent living community, new residents can typically choose from several floor plans, including studio, one-, two- and even three-bedroom apartments. The size of an apartment and its features, such as a kitchen or private patio or balcony, determines its base monthly rate, as does the location of the apartment with regard to views and proximity to elevators and public areas. The best option to choose would be a residence that is all one floor. That way, any lower body ailments would not prohibit movement up and down stairs.

Monthly Expenses

The monthly rent frequently includes a number of services such as:

  • All utilities except local telephone service and expanded cable
  • One to three chef-prepared meals per day served in a restaurant-style dining room
  • Weekly housekeeping, including laundering of bed linens/towels
  • Incidental maintenance needs (filter changes, appliance repairs, etc.)
  • Full calendar of activities with scheduled transportation for shopping, medical appointments, off-site activities
  • Emergency systems and security features
  • Additional costs typically include a non-refundable entrance or community fee, which ranges from $750 to $1,500 on average, and covers administrative and apartment renovation expenses. A second-person fee, typically between $500 and $1,000 per month, will also be assessed for couples. Fees are also charged for:
  • Guest meals
  • Use of a guest apartment
  • Activities requiring tickets or other expenses
  • Concierge services
  • Unscheduled transportation

Note: There are a variety of other expenses and options when it comes to independent living. It’s important to explore all possibilities to discover a price range.

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