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If asked to define “senior living”, what would your description of this lifestyle include? Many immediately gravitate towards the stereotypical skilled nursing scenario, including activities that revolved around pastimes such as bingo or other more sedative recreation. Is this an option that you or a loved one would be looking forward to in the future? The incredible news is that times have definitely changed! Not only is there much needed growth in senior living options but senior living is being redefined. Medical Development Corporation’s research resulted with an expected growth in the 75+ population of 20% between the years of 2010 and 2020. Furthermore, Medical Development Corp emphasized that senior housing continues to grow because of our increasing senior population. More growth, means more opportunities for people to choose options based on amenities, location, community features and price point. Everyone has their own idea of retirement, so it is important to find a community that is compatible with not only your needs but also your desires.

One area of growth involves Independent Living Communities. According to www.independentliving.org, independence is being able to control what we do, how we do it, and when. This definition goes hand in hand with what an independent living community may provide. These communities often offer the freedom to enjoy life. Potential residents are generally 62 years of age or older. The majority of these residents are perfectly capable of living in their own home, but are yearning for a more active setting. Independent living removes the responsibilities of maintaining a house with added responsibilities, replacing it with time to spend with peers, an array of recreation options, delicious prepared cuisine and a maintenance free lifestyle. Many think that relocating to an independent living community will decrease independence, when in fact, these moves have unlimited opportunities to increase independence! An independent living community lifestyle enhances an already established routine. This may include working, volunteer services, travel, shopping and more!

With the growing senior population, people are desiring increased amenities and services. Most independent living communities will offer housekeeping, meals, transportation and activities. Vibrant seniors are searching for unique options to meet and enhance their current lifestyle. These discerning seniors want more than the typical offerings. Senior Living Communities are being redefined to allow seniors to live on their own terms, not established by the community regime. Bingo is being replaced with Apple technology sessions. Exercise classes are being enhanced to include water aerobics, personal training and yoga. Dining is being reinvented to include upscale restaurant options, quick stop café opportunities, room service menus after a busy day, and all-day dining capabilities to allow residents the choice to dine at their leisure instead of the community’s schedule. Although day trips are plentiful, travel agents may partner with communities to travel out of state and abroad.

Independent Living apartment homes are also being reinvented. Downsizing from a home filled with memories is never easy. Prospective residents seek comfort, warmth, function and more when visiting communities. Modern attention to detail will apply for new senior living communities with complete kitchens featuring full-sized appliances, granite countertops, stunning backsplashes and more. Often, seniors are looking to downsize and enjoy community amenities, but still wish to have the opportunity to cook as opposed to dining with neighbors. Independent living communities will often offer a condo feel with full kitchen options, spacious living environments, and washer/dryer connections. This enables residents to downsize from areas that they are not currently utilizing but still have the capability to have a full residence to enjoy alongside the community offerings.

One of the most prevalent comments given by a potential resident is “I am not ready for that yet”. This is likely a result of antiquated stereotypical definitions of senior housing. Independent living empowers seniors to live life to the fullest. In a study by James F. Fries that was published in Milbank Quarterly, Fries contended that the aging population will live longer – and in much better condition – for a longer period of time due to improved lifestyles, nutrition, exercise and education. With the reinvention of senior living communities, these opportunities are magnified by the endless opportunities of life-enjoying amenities. Anyone desiring an active retirement should visit several communities to find how you can define this phase of life on your terms. Marc Middleton, the CEO of Growing Bolder, said it best when he said, “The key to aging is to not mourn what’s lost but to celebrate what remains; to not identify with limitation but rather with possibility”. What are your possibilities?

by Jacqueline Kennedy

Jacqueline Kennedy has over twenty-six years of experience in senior housing, specializing in independent living opportunities in the Lexington, KY area. Currently, she is the Director of Sales and Marketing for Legacy Reserve at Fritz Farm. This unique new senior living community will open in the Summer of 2017 and is located at 2700 Man O’ War Blvd. To contact Jacqueline, you can reach her at (859) 537-1123 or jkennedy@legacyreserveky.com.