Independent Living

10/24/2023 | By Kari Smith

This day in the life of a typical resident of an independent living community can help you envision what life would be like for you or a loved one. If you’re pondering a move, picture yourself as part of a day like this one.

Marian woke up in a great mood. She stretched, then smiled as her cat Lolita seemed to stretch right along with her. Some days were better than others, but this was going to be a great one. Although she missed her Joseph, he sure had provided well for her, and she always woke up with gratitude for that. Although she hadn’t anticipated being a resident of an independent living community, she was truly grateful for her new home.

As she rolled out of bed, she wondered what she would have for breakfast today. Making meals was something that she had never enjoyed, and in this community, she never had to. Three chef-made meals a day were served in an upscale restaurant-style dining room, and she always had her choice of friends to sit with. If she wanted some alone time, she could also sit alone, and sometimes she enjoyed that. The staff was always friendly and helpful, but they gave her space when she needed it.

After a hot breakfast of pancakes and sausage with a side of fruit, Marian headed back to her home, a one-level, handicap-accessible detached garden home in this beautiful, resort-style community. Although Marian was still relatively active and healthy, her arthritis sometimes acted up, and she preferred one level-living. There were also apartment buildings and duplex cottages within the neighborhood, but Marian enjoyed her privacy and space. She was also a light sleeper, so quiet was important to her.

Creating a pet-friendly home

Today was a day of pampering – she had an appointment at the beauty shop in the morning, and one later at the on-site nail salon. With the morning appointment less than a mile away, she was able to drink coffee and watch TV with Lolita on her lap until the last minute, then head over in the golf cart. She loved the accessibility of everything here, especially as she had become less comfortable driving.

While she sat under the hair dryer, her friend Laura walked into the salon. Marian greeted her enthusiastically. Although Laura was a great friend, Marian didn’t see her as often as she saw other friends, since Laura, a former dietician, chose to make all of her meals at home in her full kitchen. Although the community’s dining room would accommodate Laura’s dietary restrictions, she preferred to be in control of what she ate at each meal.

The two chatted for a while, and Laura invited her to eat lunch with her after their appointments were over. The two rode in Marian’s golf cart to Laura’s condo-style home and rode the elevator to her third-floor unit.

Two retired friends sitting on a couch conversing, smiling, drinking coffee or tea, enjoying their lives at an independent living community in a CCRC (continuing care retirement community, or life plan community)

When the pair walked in the door, Laura’s cat greeted them. The women agreed how nice it was to live in a pet-friendly community. Together they prepared lunch – a colorful salad made from fresh ingredients from a nearby farmer’s market – and chatted about their various social activities, including yoga and an upcoming wreath-making class.

Laura was grateful for Marian’s company, since her husband had recently been moved into a skilled nursing care unit. Fortunately, theirs was a life plan community (also known as a CCRC, continuing care retirement community) which included housing for seniors requiring more extensive care in assisted living or skilled nursing care. This allowed Laura to spend quality time with her husband often.

Learn more about Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Life Plan Communities, from Seniors Guide

The ladies chatted over their lunch, and afterward continued to laugh while they together folded a few loads of laundry. Marian took advantage of the community’s laundry services, and she realized with a chuckle that she almost missed folding laundry. “I don’t miss it enough to cancel my laundry service, though!” she joked with Laura.

Marian returned home on her cart, waving at her favorite security guard as she passed him on patrol. She was grateful for the 24-hour security, which made her feel safe and comfortable.

She made it in the door with just enough time to check on Lolita and make a cup of tea before her nail appointment. “I should have just left the golf cart running,” she thought aloud with a chuckle.

While she chatted with her favorite manicurist Ella at her appointment, she discussed the evening’s plans. “Tonight is lasagna night,” she told Ella, excitedly – lasagna was her favorite. She was also excited because a church children’s chorus was scheduled to sing and perform a play in the clubhouse tonight, and Marian just loved when they came. They were joyfully chaotic and had so much energy. She always appreciated multigenerational activities like that.

“Then, I can return to my QUIET home afterward,” she joked with Ella. After her nails finished drying, Marian headed out the door, calling a farewell to Ella. “See you in two weeks!”

Marian began the short drive home in her golf cart, humming an upbeat tune. When she got home, she declared to Lolita, “It’s time to get ready for lasagna night!”

Learn more about the Independent Living Community, from Seniors Guide

Kari Smith

Kari Smith is a frequent contributor to Seniors Guide, helping to keep those in the senior industry informed and up-to-date. She's a Virginia native whose love of writing began as a songwriter recording her own music. In addition to teaching music and performing in the Richmond area, Kari also enjoys riding horses and farming.

Kari Smith