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What is Independent Living?

Independent Senior Living Amenities & Services >>>

Independent living is just like living in your own home, without the extra responsibilities that come with home ownership. Senior apartments, "over age 55" communities, and active senior living are all different ways of describing independent living. While each independent living community is different, at Daystar you'll enjoy your independence while enjoying all the services and amenities that are included in your monthly rent. You'll also have peace of mind because at Daystar it's easy to change your level of care if over time your personal situation or health should require more daily interaction with Daystar's team of professional health care providers.

See our Independent Living Services


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What is the Difference between Independent and Assisted Living?

Independent living and assisted living are both levels of care for seniors and it's easy to get confused when trying to decide between the two. Basically, the difference is in the level of care required on a daily basis. While independent living includes meals and unobtrusive well-being checks throughout the day, those who need assistance with hygiene, dressing themselves, and other personal care will be more suited to the assisted living lifestyle. Both are designed to give the resident the maximum amount of privacy according to their health and wellness needs. Here's a look at the different levels of care that are available to seniors:

Independent living

Independent living is where you live in your own apartment where you are able to prepare your own meals and take care of yourself independently. Typically includes one or more meals, recreation, transportation, and community events.

Assisted living

Assisted living has all the perks of independent living but with an extra level of care; for those who need help with daily personal care and health monitoring.

Continuing care retirement community (CCRC)

CCRC is a combination community where the resident can change levels of care as needs require, a CCRC will change levels of care as you age in place.

Respite care

Respite care is typically used for short-term stays such as when a caregiver is on vacation.

Nursing home

Nursing homes have a more intensive level of care; for those who are no longer ambulatory, need more hands-on nursing, or are recovering from a major illness or injury.

Memory care

Memory care centers are for those patients with memory loss or Alzheimer's; usually a full-care facility where the resident is monitored throughout the day and night.

 DS - VG Independent vs Assisted Living Infographic

What is the Difference between Independent and Assisted Living?

Independent Living Services in West Seattle

If you're still living in your own home you may be wondering if there are any benefits in making the move to an independent living community. There are many, and perhaps the biggest is you won't have any more home maintenance! That's right; in independent living, all the chores are taken care of. You won't have to have your grass cut, rake leaves, or paint your house. You'll even enjoy weekly housekeeping, which includes changing the bed and bath linens of your choice! Here are some more perks that are included with your Daystar independent living monthly rent:

  • Delicious dinner meals with entrée choices
  • Weekly housekeeping, including changing of bed and bath linens (provided by resident)
  • Exciting social, arts, and cultural programs
  • Extensive activities program
  • Fitness programs
  • Scheduled transportation to West Seattle, Burien, downtown Seattle, local church services, and appointments
  • Three non-intrusive well being checks each day
  • All utilities, including extended cable (resident pays for electricity and telephone)
  • Open and free parking space 

Learn more about the Campus Amenities available to residents and their families.


The Cost of Independent Living

When comparing the cost of independent living it's important to look at the whole picture. Even if your mortgage is paid off there are a lot of costs involved with maintaining your own home, so you should take all your current expenses into account before deciding whether moving to Daystar is the right choice for your personal situation. While it's wise to make an appointment with a financial planner to be sure you have everything covered, here are some of the bills and services you will no longer pay for once you make the move:

  • Mortgage or rent payment
  • Property taxes
  • Property insurance
  • Lawn and garden maintenance
  • Home maintenance
  • Emergency repairs
  • Utilities (except phone and electric)
  • Cable
  • Housekeeping
  • Wellness checks
  • Transportation costs
  • Entertainment costs
  • Gym fees
  • Grocery bills

As you see, there are many hidden costs associated with living alone. Independent living includes all of these in the monthly fee; once you examine your personal expenses we're sure you'll find more. By making a detailed list of your current expenditures you'll be ready to do a closer overall cost comparison once you tour Daystar. Then you can consult with your financial planner to see what costs may be covered by insurance, veterans benefits, and other payment options you may have access to in order to determine the actual cost for you to live in your independent living community. Of course, there's also peace of mind in knowing you're no longer alone, and that's priceless!

What will it cost? Download Cost Comparison Worksheet

How to Know When It’s Time to Move to an Independent Living Community

Knowing when it's time to move to independent living is a personal question and the answer will be different for everyone. If you no longer socialize like you used to it may be time for a change; if your adult children worry too much or too little about you living alone you might consider making the move. Many couples want an independent lifestyle once they reach retirement, and independent living can give them the freedom to travel or enjoy recreational activities without the responsibilities that come with home ownership. Some seniors prefer independent living because they're looking down the road a decade or two and want to age in place with the possibility of needing assistance at a later date, and others just want to live a lifestyle that's basically carefree.


Related: How to Overcome Caregiver Guilt & Reduce Stress When Caring for Aging Parents


Here are a few signs you might take into consideration if you're wondering if it's time to make the move yourself:

  • Home repairs aren't getting done in a timely manner
  • Housekeeping is becoming too much to handle
  • You're not cooking nutritious meals like you used to
  • You're worried about having a fall or other injury with no help available
  • You're not socializing as much anymore
  • You're not driving as much as you used to
  • You want to travel but can't leave your home unattended
Download a Guide to Assisted Living

How to Find the Perfect Independent Living Community

When you're ready to tour independent living communities you may be tempted to choose one that's conveniently located near your children or your current home. While this may work well in some situations a better method is to do some online research first and narrow your choices down to three to five communities. Download and print a checklist of things to look for in an independent living community, so you won't be swept up by an enthusiastic salesperson. Once you have a detailed list of things to investigate you can tour each community and make a note of things you especially like or dislike about each campus. Being prepared with a checklist will ensure you don't forget to check details such as:

  • Security, both outside and inside the buildings
  • Experience and friendliness of staff
  • Safety features such as handrails and emergency call buttons
  • Kitchen and dining room cleanliness
  • Menu choices and quality of food
  • Amenities available
  • Fitness and recreational options
  • Levels of care offered

Besides your checklist, it's a good idea to ask around while you're there. Talk to as many staff members as possible and note whether they're professional yet friendly and approachable. Note whether they seem happy with their job or are tired and rushed to get their work finished so they can leave. Spend some time visiting with other residents and ask how long they've lived in the community and what they like and dislike about the campus. Ask about crime, injuries, accidents, and illnesses as well as anything else that might be weighing on your mind about making the move.

Remember, you don't have to make an immediate decision. Once you narrow your choices you can always go back for another tour, and continue to do so until you're satisfied you've found the perfect home for your future.

How to Move In to an Independent Living Community

If you own your home you'll want to make that your first priority, so contact a Realtor and make arrangements to sell. If you plan to give or sell your home to your children it's a good idea to do so through an estate attorney or financial planner to make the transfer smooth and legal. Once your house is taken care of you'll be able to tackle the big part: moving.

Moving can be an overwhelming process in itself, and many seniors face leaving a residence they've lived in for decades. If you're ready for a life of independent living your first step should be to downsize. Check the measurements of the rooms in your new apartment and chose the furniture you plan to take with you when you move. If you have certain pieces or treasures you're not ready to part with consider storing them at a family member's until you decide whether you want to keep them or not. Here are some ideas on how to divest of the rest of your extra belongings:

  • Gift items to your family and friends
  • Hold a garage sale
  • Sell items online
  • Hire an auction company
  • Donate to a worthy cause

The main thing to remember is that you don't have to do it all at once. Try sorting and emptying one room at a time, and ask family members to give you a hand. Stack the items you're taking in one area and other things according to where they'll go: family, sell, donate, and so on.

When you're ready for the actual move you can either have a professional company take care of the entire process or you can do it yourself with the help of family and friends. If you're not sure which way to go ask one of your adult children to oversee the actual move and you'll have one less thing to worry about! 

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What it’s like to Live in an Independent Living Community?

Unlike what is portrayed my many common independent living myths, living in an assisted living community is fun! You'll no longer have to fuss about making dinner every night because it will be waiting for you in the dining room. Instead of cleaning and repairing your home you'll be enjoying fitness classes, arts, crafts, and cultural offerings as well as regular local attractions such as museums and concerts. You'll have transportation available should you want to go shopping or have an appointment to keep, and safe, convenient parking if you own your own vehicle. Perhaps the best part is the friends you'll make because it's easy to socialize and meet new people when you share a common community and interests. The staff will be making unobtrusive wellness checks on you every day, so you won't have to worry about "what if…" scenarios. Best of all, you'll have peace of mind knowing you can now age in place without fretting over the future.

How to Stay in Touch with Loved Ones while Living in an Independent Living Community

Don't be worried about staying in touch with family and friends once you make the move to independent living. You'll have your own apartment and can have company whenever you want; you can even have your grandkids for overnight stays. You'll also be able to come and go as you please, so if you want to see your adult children for an extended visit you can, without worrying about leaving your home empty and unsecured. If you're still driving you can visit whenever you choose. You'll also have your own phone and cell phone if you wish, so your friends are still only a phone call away. Many seniors choose to use the internet to stay in touch, and with today's technology can enjoy face-to-face visits via a laptop screen or watch their grandchild's soccer game via live feed. In short, you'll probably be more in touch than ever once you make the move!

Learn More About Maintenance Free Living at Daystar