Residents Sitting Around Laughing

Carewatchers Elder/Senior Independent Living Placement and Referral Agency

What is Independent Living?

Independent living communities are aimed at older adults who need little or no assistance with activities of daily living, most do not offer medical care or nursing staff. As with regular housing, you can hire in-home help separately as required. The residents are seniors who benefit from convenient services, senior-friendly surroundings, and increased social opportunities that independent senior living communities offer.

Activities, Amenities and Services

While residents live independently, most communities offer amenities, activities and services. Often, recreational centers or clubhouses are available on site to give seniors the opportunity to connect with peers and participate in community activities, such as arts and crafts, holiday gatherings, continuing education classes, or movie nights.

Independent living communities may also offer amenities such as swimming pools, fitness center, tennis courts, even a golf course or other clubs and interest groups. Other services offered in independent living may include onsite spas, beauty and barber salons, daily meals, basic housekeeping and laundry services. You'll want to know if they cater to your favorite hobbies or interests. Is there a fitness center, game room, or coffee shop available onsite? Perhaps there are some activities that you’ve never explored before. Some independent living or retirement homes, for example, partner with nearby universities to offer academic classes and cultural events.

Types of Independent Living Communities

There are many types of independent living communities, from apartment complexes to separate houses, which range in cost and the services provided.

In the U.S., there are senior housing complexes subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for low-income seniors.

Senior apartments or congregate care housing are apartment complexes restricted by age, usually 55 and older. Rent may include community services such as recreational programs, transportation services, and meals served in a communal dining room.


Retirement homes/retirement communities are groups of housing units restricted for those over a certain age, often 55 or 62 and older. These housing units can be single-family homes, duplexes, mobile homes, townhouses, or condominiums.

Independent Living or Retirement Communities

What you need from an independent living or retirement community depends on your own unique situation. With so much variation in services, think about which are most important to you now and in the future.

No matter what type of independent living community you consider, you want to make sure you connect with peers and feel comfortable in the community. When you visit the area, talk with some of the residents. Are they people you’d like to know better? Are support services timely with a staff that's friendly and accessible?

There is no set size for an independent living community, so it’s up to you if you prefer a smaller size community or a busier place with more people and opportunities for socialization. Some residents may want to change their location to a warmer climate such as California, Arizona or Florida.

Take a look at how accessible the retirement community is, both inside and outside. Do you feel safe coming and going at different hours of the day? Are amenities outside of the facility within walking distance, or do you need transportation like a car or cart to get around? Can you easily get to places you frequently use such as a library, college, or medical services?

In your potential housing unit, get a feel for future adaptability. Are there any stairs inside the unit or outside? Can ramps be added if necessary? Check to see if adaptive devices like grab bars can be easily installed in bathrooms. If you have a pet, are pets welcomed?


To Find an Independent Living Community Select Your State


Senior Housing Facility Options

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Adult Day Health Care Centers

There are two types of adult day care. First there are Adult Day Care Centers which focus on social interaction with adults and older persons. The second type is called Adult Day Health Care (ADHC) providing adults with chronic medical, mental health...

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Assisted Living Facilities

A typical assisted living facility resident would usually be an elder/senior citizen who does not need the level of care offered by a skilled nursing facility. Assisted Living Facilities provide more companionship and some assistance in day-to-day living.

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Hospice Care Facilities

Hospice Care is more than a place of care, hospice is a unique kind of care for people with advanced illnesses. Hospice Care is a specialized care that accepts dying as the final natural stage of life, neither to speed up the dying process nor postpone it.

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Independent Living Communities

Independent Living is simply any housing arrangement designed exclusively for seniors, generally those aged 55 and over. Housing can vary widely, from apartment-style living to freestanding homes. These communities are for seniors who need little or no care.

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Continuing Care Communities

CCRC's aren't independent living communities, nursing homes or assisted living facilities. Continuing Care Communities are a combination of all of these care options, owned by private companies and staffed to provide a ''continuum of care''.

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In-Home Care Agencies

In-home care also known as home care, home health care and private duty home care. In-home care is considered non-skilled which means non- medical, home care and home health care is skilled care which means medical. Private duty home care is both.

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Memory Care Facilities

Memory care is a term that refers to specialized care provided by some facilities to help elder/seniors and other individuals affected by memory impairment. Memory care communities are often incorporated as separate care units of assisted living facilities.

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Residential Care Homes

Residential Care Homes are also known as Adult Family Homes, Adult Family Care Homes, Residential Care Facilities, Personal Care Homes, and Care Homes. All of which provide professional care for the elder/senior in a residential home setting.

Learn More Residential Care Homes »