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Independent Living Debate

  • Synopsis: Published: 2009-02-04 (Revised/Updated 2012-09-20) - Independent living is where a person lives independently in their home or apartment and not senior communities or nursing homes - Alex Jensen.

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When it comes to senior housing, there are a surprising number of options available to seniors. While discussions tend to range between assisted living, senior communities and nursing homes, a significant debate exists on the issue of independent living.

Independent living is pretty much what it sounds like.

A person lives independently in their home or in an apartment within a community. The residence, however, is modified to provide assistance for the person with certain daily tasks that may seem small, but can make a major difference in their standard of living and the safety factor therein.

So, what type of assistance are we talking about here

The first is very simple. Independent living often comes with meal options wherein the person in question is provided with two meals a day. This may sound simple, but preparing meals can take a lot of time and require trips to the grocery store and so on. Being relieved of the burden can make a big difference to many seniors.

The second area of help is found in the more practical.

The biggest concern for many seniors is a falling accident. Falling can result in broken bones, pain and death. The placement of grab bars throughout the living area is one way to deal with this issue. This is particularly true in the key fall area of the bathroom. Placing grab bars in the shower and just outside of the shower is a critical step. Many seniors grab the sliding door as a means of getting in and out of the shower. The door moves and fall occurs. Grab bars give the person a more stable means for moving about.

Storage space is a second issue.

Many of us put store clothes and what have you in every nook and cranny of closets. Okay, let's be honest. We cram stuff up onto shelves we can't reach half the time on the best of days. For seniors, this is more so a problem. If you are setting up an independent living environment, moving shelves and stored items to a lower level makes sense.

The ability to communicate with the outside world, particularly in an emergency, is also a critical issue.

The simplest way to deal with this is to place a phone in every room. If a situation arises that requires a 911 call or what have you, the ability to reach out and grab a phone can make the difference between immediate help and a major tragedy.

At the end of the day, independent living is controversial as a senior housing option. Some seniors are independent enough to have no problems while others really need more help and run serious safety risks by not moving to an assisted living facility or other care solution. The dividing line is often difficult to distinguish. If independent living is the choice, taking the steps to make a home safe is key.

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