What is Independent Living?

By July 10, 2018Uncategorized

Of course, we all think we know what is meant by Independent Living (IL). The major trade associations have defined it for us as has industry practice over the decades. But is it what it once was and if not, what is it now? We think of independent living as being residential units of varying types that offer services such as meals, transportation, housekeeping and activities and that it is designed to serve those who do not really need assistance to enjoy the activities of their daily life. But increasingly, we are finding that a measurable proportion (as much as 25-35%) of those who reside in IL are receiving varying degrees of assistance in activities of daily living (ADLs). They may need anything from medication reminders to help with more substantial things such as bathing and dressing. Yet they remain in their IL unit since they are not considered a danger to themselves or others and they are able to independently vacate their unit if needed. Over the years the age of entry has increased from the mid-70’s to the early 80’s which explains the rapidly increasing frailty of IL residents. On the other hand, we see an emerging IL product type in which virtually no services are provided. The latter are typically structured as rental communities. Tracking and understanding the changing product types known as Independent Living will be important for many reasons ranging from how markets are analyzed when considering a development opportunity to shaping plans for what to offer that will be attractive and competitive.