A home is more than a roof over our heads. It’s a place to feel safe, gather with family and friends and build memories. But as we or our loved ones age, housing needs can change. For some, there’s a desire to downsize. Others just need a little extra support.
For many healthy seniors considering future living arrangements, their biggest concern is losing their independence.
That’s where independent retirement communities come in. These senior living complexes aim to offer a range of services while allowing residents to maintain control of their own lives.
“Our seniors do not lose their independence,” said Gloria Burkmier, community manager of Summerville Estates, a retirement community in Summerville. “We take some of the burden off of them.”
Part of the Hawthorn Retirement Group, Summerville Estates offers studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments for people 55 and older.
Independent living communities are designed for seniors who are active, healthy and able to live without assistance, according to RetirementLiving.com. They generally consist of homes, condominiums, town houses or apartments where residents maintain an independent lifestyle. Many of these communities offer a variety of services and amenities.
At Summerville Estates, for instance, residents’ monthly rent entitles them to perks such as weekly housekeeping, scheduled bus transportation and three chef-prepared meals a day.
With these tasks taken care of, residents have more time to do the things they enjoy, including socializing, Burkmier noted.
Maintaining social ties and staying active are key factors in longevity and aging gracefully, health experts say. With this in mind, independent retirement communities typically provide places for social gatherings and activities. Arts and crafts, bingo and music are just a few of the programs offered at Summerville Estates, which has an activities coordinator on staff. There’s also a fitness center, a library, a chapel, a barber and beauty shop and other amenities on-site.
Many residents say being part of an independent living community has encouraged them to become more outgoing and active, Burkmier said. Residents often organize get-togethers such as shopping trips or movie nights in the building’s theater. They also stay engaged by volunteering in the retirement community.
“It gives them a sense of purpose,” Burkmier said. “A lot of our seniors have so much knowledge – so much to still give to our society.”
If at some point a resident’s health declines and they need medical assistance or help with daily living tasks, they can hire a private home health aide while still remaining in the community. This is typically a less disruptive and more budget-friendly option than moving into assisted living or a nursing home, Burkmier said.
At Summerville Estates, every apartment is equipped with a pull cord that residents can use in case of an emergency, she added. The live-in managers will be alerted and will assist the resident 24/7.
With the wide variety of senior living options available today, Burkmier encouraged older adults to visit different places to see what best fits their lifestyle and budget. It’s also important to talk to people who live in the community.
“Our residents are our biggest cheerleaders,” she said.