As we approach Independence Day — a time when America celebrates its autonomy as a sovereign nation along with the many freedoms guaranteed to its citizens — it’s also an ideal moment to reflect on staying independent as we age. Many retirees think independent living means staying in their own homes until they can no longer care for themselves. Yet in many ways, choosing to move to a retirement community while you’re healthy and active actually offers more control over enjoying your golden years to the fullest.

The key is to choose the right senior living community for you. Here’s what pre-retirees and older adults of all ages should know about senior independent living in a community setting.

Common Misconceptions About Freedom in Senior Living Communities

seniors playing croquetMany seniors and their families harbor misguided concerns that moving into a senior living community means relinquishing personal freedom and autonomy. They might fear losing the ability to make daily choices, from simple decisions like meal times to larger concerns about social activities and lifestyle.

That’s in part because today’s retirees are more likely to have grown up in a less senior-friendly era when moving to a “home” commonly meant receiving around-the-clock care at a skilled nursing facility, also called a nursing home, with varying quality of care and life. It’s little wonder, then, that older adults today might think senior living means losing control of the mind, body, and choices; many who are still active and cognitively healthy believe they aren’t “ready” for these facilities.

But the types of senior communities available — as well as the range of services they offer — have expanded dramatically over the past several decades. Today, there are senior independent living facilities that allow you to run your life exactly as you would in your current home. Of these, one of the best options for maintaining your freedom and tailoring services and amenities to your needs is a CCRC.

What Is a CCRC?

A continuing care retirement community (CCRC) — sometimes also called a life plan community — is a residential campus for seniors that offers multiple levels of care based on the individual’s current and developing needs. Many CCRCs require that you qualify to live independently before you are offered a lifecare contract.

These communities often provide amenities such as fitness centers, cafés or restaurants, hair salons, and even banks. Services are offered on an as-needed basis and typically include:

  • Concierge services
  • Meal preparation
  • Housekeeping
  • Property maintenance (for all residents, regardless of needs)
  • Transportation
  • Medical care
  • A wide range of classes and social activities

All of these services are tailored to promote an active lifestyle and promote senior autonomy as much as possible. You can receive as few or as many services as you want or need, and you can change this as your needs change.

What Is Independent Living?

To make the most of what CCRCs have to offer, it’s ideal to move in at a life stage when you are still active. This allows residents to enjoy what’s called independent living: living in your own private unit and aging in place, taking advantage of the amenities, services, and opportunities that support a full and fun life.

In addition, independent living offers the peace of mind of knowing that you can transition to more supportive services if the need arises — all without having to relocate, choose a facility on an emergency basis (which can be incredibly stressful and lead to poor decision-making), or place the burden of making these arrangements on your loved ones. In short, choosing a community that’s a good geographical, cultural, and lifestyle fit for you gives you greater control and happiness during the years to come.

CCRCs Offer More Independence Than You Might Have on Your Own

Here are some of the ways CCRCs can offer you a more liberated and worry-free lifestyle than you’re likely to have on your own:

  • Maintenance-free living. One of the most significant benefits CCRCs offer is freedom from the chores, costs, and contractor research associated with the upkeep of a home. Residents no longer need to do yard work, repairs, or heavy housekeeping. This allows seniors more time to focus on enjoying life and engaging in activities they love.
  • Tailored health and wellness programs. With fitness centers, group exercise classes, and wellness programs designed for older adults, residents can maintain or even improve their physical and mental health. This proactive approach to health emphasizes prevention and independence, helping seniors manage their health on their terms and live independently for longer.
  • Abundant company and social opportunities. Living alone can often lead to social isolation for seniors, which can lead to both mental and physical health problems. CCRCs offer a community of peers with similar experiences and lifestyles, along with a calendar full of social events to encourage engagement. They often also offer classes in a variety of subjects and local field trips. All of these are excellent for mental, physical, and cognitive health.
  • Personalized care as needed. The continuum of care offered in CCRCs means that additional support is available when you need it, but it won’t impinge on your abilities or freedom. Whether it’s assisted living, memory care, or skilled nursing, each service is integrated into the same community, providing care that evolves with the residents’ needs without the stress of uprooting your life or moving to unfamiliar settings. Plus, if a couples’ care needs vary and one person remains in independent living, while the other moves to the health care center, they can still be within walking distance of each other.
  • No need for retrofitting. Seniors who attempt to age in place in their existing homes often run into the unanticipated expense and hassle of having to install ramps, grab bars, showers with seats, and other safety modifications. At a CCRC, these are already in place, at no additional cost to you.
  • Security and peace of mind. Safety features such as 24-hour security personnel, emergency response systems, and well-lit, accessible facilities can eliminate any worries you might have about personal safety or health emergencies. This aspect of CCRC living not only comforts residents, but also provides peace of mind to their families, knowing that their loved ones are safe and well-cared-for.
  • Financial control. Many CCRCs offer predictable pricing models, which can stabilize your financial situation by providing clear expectations for future costs. This predictability helps residents manage their budgets more effectively and simply, avoiding unexpected expenses that often accompany homeownership and aging, such as home modifications and visiting or live-in nurse care.

Choosing a continuing care retirement community is a decision that ultimately provides more independence and control as you age, not less. By offering a range of personalized services and care options, CCRCs ensure that the golden years are truly golden, letting seniors maintain the lifestyle they love while preparing for the future with confidence. This July, as we celebrate the spirit of American independence, let’s also celebrate the choices that afford seniors more freedom and autonomy at a time in life when it matters most.

Live Life on Your Own Terms With Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury

Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury is a continuing care community providing the highest quality living experience for discerning senior adults. Situated on 165 beautiful acres outside the village of Irvington in Virginia’s Northern Neck, RWC residents choose to live here for the independent and worry-free lifestyle afforded in a tranquil setting as well as a wide variety of mental health resources.

At RWC, the majority of our residents actively engage in fitness activities at our beautiful Life Enrichment Center. We invite you to take a virtual tour to see for yourself! Our goal is to assist you in living life to the fullest.

Living Well at RWC takes a personalized approach to overall well-being. Our team of health and fitness professionals meet individually with each new resident to develop a tailored wellness program, supporting you in establishing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Contact us today for lunch and a tour of our beautiful campus. Alternatively, request a brochure to learn more about living your best life at RWC!

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