The word “opportunity” is extremely important when addressing the needs of a senior considering a move to an independent retirement living community. Opportunities exist around meals, activities, new friends, and new experiences.

In fact, when Robyn Duffey, the Director of Sales for senior living at Bethesda Health Group, talks about independent retirement living in one of Bethesda’s communities, she uses the word “opportunity” quite frequently.

“I often see a gleam in their eyes when we start to discuss the benefits of moving into an independent retirement community,” said Robyn. “It’s almost as if they are envisioning what their lives will soon be like – and from my perspective, it’s pretty clear that they like what they see!”

Below are just a few examples of the independent living amenities that you can’t find at home:

Independent Living Amenities

1. Fine Dining

Independent living residents can cook for themselves in their own apartment if they want, but they may choose to enjoy one meal per day in a restaurant-style dining environment, with a wait staff and a menu prepared by a registered dietitian. There is no kitchen mess to clean up, and they can “eat out” with their friends without having to drive to a restaurant.

2. Maintenance-Free Living

As people age, home maintenance becomes more challenging. In independent living, staff is on site to make home repairs, mow the grass, and shovel snow. The residents don’t have to do a thing — it’s all done for them.

3. Assistance as Needed

The services provided in independent living are customized to each resident’s needs and wishes. They include medical supervision and medication management. Through programs like Bethesda’s Senior Support Solutions, personal assistants can transport residents to shops and grocery stores, or they can literally shop for the senior if desired. In addition, transportation is available for doctor appointments (and the assistant can stay and take notes during the visit).

Help, as needed, is available to assist with the activities of daily living like dressing, bathing, eating, and personnel hygiene needs. Assistance with laundry and meal planning and preparation are also available.

All of this in a safe, secure environment that is monitored 24-7.

4. Connections and Encouragement

Robyn also points out some less tangible but important benefits of independent living. “I look at the broader scope of the possible differences between staying in your home and choosing an independent living community,” she says.

“Residents not only make new friends, they often reconnect with former neighbors or colleagues they didn’t realize already live there,” she says, pointing out that older adults in an independent retirement living community are among peers who share many of the same interests and ideas.

5. Opportunities to Explore

According to Robyn, independent living also provides a unique opportunity to try new things and explore interests. “Many residents discover new hobbies or hidden talents because of organized activities otherwise not available,” she says.

Exercise classes, educational series, outings to attractions and area events, as well as restaurants and shopping trips, are just some of the offerings.

6. Relationships Restored

Robyn also points out another advantage that extends to the family as well as the resident. “Often, the relationship between an adult child and their parent changes as that parent ages. A daughter, for example, becomes more of a caregiver because she is now taking Mom to doctor appointments and coming over weekly to clean the house. We see relationships restored after an older adult moves into a retirement community, because activities like transportation and housekeeping are managed by the retirement community. The daughter becomes the daughter again instead of functioning as the caregiver.”

Many Choices—and They are All Yours!

“Some people believe they have to give up their lifestyle if they move to an independent living community,” Robyn says, “but that is far from the case. Residents can be as private or social as they want to be. I know one couple who enjoys traveling. Instead of worrying about who will take care of the lawn or pick up the mail, they literally lock their apartment door and go. They say they don’t worry about a thing.”

She believes whatever a senior resident chooses to do or not do, the many resources and opportunities that are possible is a source of security. “Many residents just like knowing there are services available if ever needed,” she says.

Making the Decision

Leaving a home after living there for many years is not easy. “We know this may be a difficult decision made more overwhelming by challenges like what to do with all the possessions you’ve gathered over the decades,” says Robyn.

“Many people say they want to wait a few months or until something ‘happens,’” she says, but she encourages people to think about independent living sooner rather than later. “You want to begin touring independent living communities and asking questions while you are healthy and can make your own decisions. If you suddenly sustain an injury or illness and have to move quickly, it becomes far more difficult to conduct your research.”

“I hear from residents all the time that they wish they had made the move sooner!” she says.

Schedule a tour at a Bethesda community near you to learn more about the various activities and amenities offered.