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Learn About Independent Living Facilities

Independent living facilities are an ideal choice for senior citizens who would like to remain independent but want to experience a community that offers social opportunities. Additional benefits of independent living facilities include the alleviation of responsibilities regarding home repair and lawn care. Unlike an assisted living facility or nursing home, independent living facilities do not usually provide any additional services or aid with daily tasks or medical care. For more information on independent living including requirements, benefits and costs, review the sections provided below.

What is an independent living facility?

Independent living facilities offer senior citizens a community to live within while remaining independent. They are not to be confused with assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities, as the benefits of independent living facilities will not usually include any aid with daily tasks or medical care. Dwelling units are similar to that of an apartment complex, and each resident will receive his or her own unit. As with apartment complexes, the layouts, amenities and costs can all be different depending on the location. An independent living facilities list of costs could include amenities such as:

  • Community activities
  • Community organized trips
  • Central air and heat
  • Maintenance services
  • Transportation services
  • Safety features within a bathroom

Additionally, some independent living facilities may also include meal services. Alternate food requirements for independent living facilities residents such as lactose-free, nut-free and gluten-free products may be available, but prospective residents should inquire about amenities and services with the specific facility. In some cases, low-income facilities may be associated with a food program or provide information on programs for seniors.

An independent living facility is commonly found within a Continuous Care Retirement Community, but there are also some standalone locations. If seniors do not meet the eligibility requirements for independent living facilities due to a need of daily assistance, then a Continuous Care Retirement Community will likely have an assisted living facility or nursing home on campus that they would be eligible to move to. When considering a living facility within a retirement community, it is worth knowing that you will incur additional fees such as an entrance fee. Should you choose to do so, be aware that the benefits of independent living facilities are sometimes different within a retirement community. For more information about housing options for seniors, download our guide.

Requirements for Independent Living Facilities

Independent living facilities are generally reserved for senior citizens with an age requirement between 55 and 62 years of age, depending on the facility. Some independent living facilities may have an exception to the age requirement rule when it comes to younger individuals who possess certain disabilities. As such, independent living facilities tend to be a quieter community.

Independent living facilities allow married couples to reside in the same apartment dwelling. However, the medical restrictions and requirements for an independent living facility resident will depend on the facility’s policies. If one spouse requires some medical care, then cohabitation may not always be available. Requirements for independent living facilities will vary, so it is recommended that you ask the facility about its specific requirements.

Senior citizens will be expected to pay all costs related to the independent living facility to maintain residency. A senior housing dwelling may also be considered an independent living facility, and the prospective resident may come across income guidelines if it participates in a federal housing program like the HUD’s Section 202 program, which provides housing options for low-income seniors. Income requirements for independent living facilities participating in HUD programs are dependent on the federal poverty level. Download our free guide to find out more details about housing options for seniors.

What is the cost of Independent Living Facilities?

The costs of independent living facilities vary by facility and location, so you will need to contact the facility you are interested in for an estimate. If there are income requirements for independent living facilities’ admissions, then these locations may have little to no cost. Living facilities that are a part of a Continuous Care Retirement Community, or CCRC, are often far more expensive than those that are not a part of one of these communities. This is due to the fact that the CCRC campus usually houses nursing care facilities and assisted living in addition to independent living facilities, giving you access to these facilities later in life, should you ever require it.

How to Find an Independent Living Facilities Directory

An independent living facilities directory can be found on a number of websites through a quick search. Seniors can find an independent living facilities list in rental magazines and newspapers as well. Information on independent living facilities that are a part of a Continuous Care Retirement Community can be found by contacting your state office, including your local U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) office. Make sure the independent facilities list is within your area. Sometimes an independent living facilities directory found online has a broad range but can be specified to match options in your area.

When searching for an independent living facilities list, you should specify your search to the services and amenities you need. Ask the independent living facility about the services and amenities that are provided and if there are any additional fees associated with them. If you are married, then ask if the facility accepts couples into a single dwelling unit. If you are interested in community events, then find out if the facility hosts any. Another tip is to visit the independent living facility more than once, and sometimes unannounced. Observe the way that residents interact with one another and staff.