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Redefining Independence- Challenging the common phrase, "I'm still too independent to move into a retirement community."

We hear it all the time, "I'm not ready to move into a retirement community! I'm still too independent!" What does this statement mean exactly? The person on the other end of the comment likely intends to communicate they are living in their home and do not feel ready to rely on others to take care of them.

The intent behind their statement is well-understood, but it could be built on a multitude of misconceptions about senior living. Let's discuss a few of these examples and potentially redefine the term "independence" as we go.

Misconception #1- "Living in my own home means I'm more independent than those living in a senior living community."

When comparing yourself against your peers, you may feel like you are living a free life while theirs is confined by the choice to live in a community environment. However, those on the other side of the conversation might challenge this idea claiming they are the ones who have discovered true freedom. Take the home for example, it makes demands of your budget, time, and energy that cannot be ignored. Whether it's mowing the lawn on a weekly schedule, swapping out a/c filters at the appropriate time, or paying the property taxes each year, there are tasks you must tend to regularly. Meanwhile, your peers living in a community are free of these chores along with the worry and work that comes along with them. While you are on the internet sourcing the best roofing companies in the area, or waiting around for the cable guy, they are worry-free, thinking about their hobbies and interests instead. Maybe the idea of independence should be reframed to understand, as a homeowner the home is completely dependent on you. Therefore, are you truly independent? Are you really free? Those who have rid themselves of these chores and evicted the worry from their mind would say true freedom can be found outside of homeownership.

Misconception #2- "I will have to give up (fill in the blank) to make a move."

It is true that things will change if you decide to make a move to a retirement community, but it is not often that one must "give up" doing activities that are meaningful. A common example could be gardening. Often, prospective residents remain hesitant as they consider leaving their big back yard and garden behind for a small patio or balcony. However, the truth is, this activity can still remain a core interest, but perhaps it is expressed in a courtyard shared with others instead. Many find that the enjoyment found in hobbies can be enhanced when shared with the group of peers in the community. Watching your blooms at home is certainly satisfying, but a new level of excitement can be added to the experience when there is an entire community of friends enjoying the blooms you have nurtured. All in all, you might be surprised how many hobbies are made better when shared within the group setting. Sharing your artwork, a lecture, writings, or a special musical ability are greatly appreciated and often bring together like-minded neighbors who can enjoy these activities together. Instead of assuming certain interests would go to the wayside, consider how, with a few adjustments, they could made be even better.

Misconception #3- "I won't be able to have any privacy."

The idea that privacy is lost when you move to an Independent Living community couldn't be further from the truth. Residents are free to come and go as they please, living their lives on their own terms. Housekeeping and maintenance teams are not entering the home unannounced. Instead, they maintain a schedule to ensure your privacy is upheld at all times and they will communicate when a visit to your home is required to manage other work orders and repairs. Staff are not documenting your every move and monitoring your comings and goings, but they do pay attention to patterns which in some cases can be lifesaving. The added perk to living in a community is the value of having others who recognize oddities in your routine. For example, staff or neighbors may tune in when they notice you haven't picked up your daily newspaper, which might prompt them to check-in on you. As you age, you certainly don't want to give up your sense of privacy, but having staff and neighbors nearby, in case of emergency, can become more and more valuable as time goes by. This added peace-of-mind is certainly a bonus for those seeking to live an independent lifestyle.

Misconception #4- "I'm still too healthy."

Put plainly, if you are waiting until you are in bad health, you have waited too late for Independent Living. In fact, many don't know that a health disclosure is required when applying for residency at communities that offer a HealthCare Benefit with future access to Assisted Living, Memory Support, or Long-term Care Nursing at a discounted rate. These communities with additional care services are called, Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), and they are often most attractive to planners, those who wish to have a future plan in place with priority access and big discounts. During this health disclosure, the applicant is required to share their medications, any current diagnosis, and any significant changes in their health. The determination is made from there if they are a candidate for the benefits associated with the residency agreement for Independent Living. Those who come to the table in poor health may miss out on the fullness of what Independent Living has to offer. While general residency is always extended without discrimination to disability, it is the HealthCare Benefit component that you must be qualified to receive. These contracts are similar to an insurance policy where candidates must be free of certain conditions to be approved. Those who are not a candidate for the discount have missed one of the key motivators for such a move. Those who wish to wait for a health event to prompt a move might need to turn their thoughts to Assisted Living communities as the better fit, while those who are invested in more proactive planning will find that an Independent Living community with the HealthCare Benefit could be the better fit. The bottom line is, many of the residents living in a retirement community are often more active and vibrant than the average senior. Suggesting only the frail and fragile move to an Independent Living community is a massive misconception. Those living with a secure plan for the future have unlocked a new and freeing level of independence as they can relax into all life has to offer without added worry about future care needs.

Redefining Independence

If you are guilty of making any of these statements, it might be time to reset your perspectives. Start by visiting with those who have made such a move and get their take on what life is really like in a retirement community. When you are ready, schedule a tour and open up the lines of discussion on what true independence can really look like, free of work and worry. Maybe it's time to redefine independence.

Visit to see for yourself.

The Langford Senior Living Explore Arrow, College Station