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Independent Living vs. Assisted Living vs. Nursing Homes

With the many options out there for your retirement, it can be confusing knowing what choice to make. Many senior housing communities have assisted living options. Some nursing homes have an “assisted living wing.” Some assisted living communities offer independent living. It’s enough to make you want to build a raft and spend your retirement on a small deserted island! We want to provide you with some helpful definitions to navigate through these choices. We can also recommend some deserted islands and really good sunscreen, if you choose that option as well.

Independent Living
When do you want “Independent Living?” You are making this choice usually because you want to and are able to live without any help, but you no longer want (or need) the burden of maintaining your current home. You would prefer to live with other people of the same age and similar interests. You may desire social activities or interesting day trips. You might want to cook some meals, but you also may want the option of dining out without having to drive anywhere. You definitely want someone else to mow the lawn, shovel the snow, weed the garden and water the grass (or at least you don’t want to do so much of it any more)

Where can you find “Independent Living?” One option is found in the retirement housing subdivisions. These can be sprawling campuses with many amenities. With this option, you can buy or rent an apartment/condo/or small “cottage” Many times, these communities require total independence with regard to your health. However, you can also find the option of “independent” living within an assisted living community. In these communities, while you live independently, you also have the option of adding health services as you need them.

Assisted Living
When do you want “Assisted Living?” You make this choice when medical, memory, or aging issues reduce your ability to safely stay in your own home. You may still want the personal privacy and autonomy, but you may need a little assistance. And, honestly, you may also be tired of cleaning, cooking, laundry, and home repairs. Many assisted living communities offer services for personal care. They also may provide housekeeping, laundry, transportation, dining options, and 24 hour supervision. In addition, these communities may have other amenities such as exercise rooms, outdoor gardens, libraries, chapels, or internet access. Assisted living communities frequently base their costs by offering levels of care based on the amount of assistance that you need. Some assisted living communities will allow you to “age in place” meaning that you can remain there even as your health deteriorates. Sometimes, you may find a nursing home that has a dedicated area for assisted living. You should consider this option based on your medical needs, but also on your privacy and autonomy wants.

Nursing Home
When do you want a “Nursing Home?” You make this choice when your health needs require skilled medical professionals (like doctors and nurses) providing services and care on a daily basis. The emphasis in a nursing home is on medical care. Frequently, nursing homes also provide rehabilitation services, allowing for a short term or a long-term stay.

Other Options

There is a really lovely chain of islands throughout the Caribbean that are uninhabited. Choose one with a good coastline and lots of trees for shelter. For long term retirement, we strongly recommend a UVA/UVB full spectrum sunscreen in an SPF 30 or higher. Just a thought: learn to fish and gather before you go. Oh, and bring LOTS of your favorite beverage.