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Independent Living Communities (Senior Apartments)

There are over 100 independent living communities and senior apartment complexes in the Sacramento area providing a wide variety of senior housing options.

Active seniors may choose to live in independent living communities (senior apartments) for many reasons. A senior apartment is often the perfect choice when frequent travel is on the horizon (as it is often is for those who have retired), whether visiting family or flying off to exotic locations. A senior apartment with its security and maintenance allows them to do so without worrying about their property.

Another common reason for moving into a senior apartments / independent living communities is the desire to have an easier to manage home. When a larger home is no longer needed, trading in home and garden maintenance can be very attractive to those content with patio or small yard gardens.

Personal finances may also play a part or be the foremost reason whether to budget or using equity from a home sale for investing.

The emotional/social connection that is so important to most of us is yet another reason that some seniors move from their homes to senior apartments. When friends and family have moved away or been lost through death, a senior apartment provides a community conducive to building new friendships and establishing emotional connections.

Most seniors, however, don't move more than 10 miles from their previous home, unless it is to be closer to family.

This brings us to yet another attractive feature for some seniors...

A senior apartment building or complex, provides a location where residents live among, for the most part, their age peers.

Age-Restricted Senior Apartments and Independent Living Communities:

Most independent living communities and senior apartments are age-restricted. Guidelines determined by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allow for this, where normally an apartment couldn't reject applicants on the basis of age.

These apartments are usually restricted to ages 55 or 62 plus, and they must follow Federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regulations. HUD regulations (Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995) require that 100% of the occupants must be 62 years of age or older or 80% of the occupied units must be occupied by at least one person who is 55 or older.

Most independent living communities and senior apartments have additional restrictions which stipulate that no one under age 19 can reside permanently in the community.

Physical description:

Independent living communities and senior apartments are availabl in a number of configurations; from smaller, more intimate communities, to larger complexes that resemble resorts complete with shops, spas and beauty salons.

Apartment buildings designed for the senior market should have the following features.

  • All parts of the building accessible to residents and the public should be wheelchair accessible.

  • Doors and hallways should be wide enough for wheelchairs.

  • All units should have:

    • Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls that are designed for senior residents.

    • Bathrooms should be large enough for residents that use wheelchairs. They should also be equipped with grab bars in the shower and near the toilet.

    • The apartment should have units that are equipped with kitchens that can be used by residents in wheelchairs.

Many senior apartment buildings have recreation rooms, fitness centers, community rooms, craft areas, swimming pools, walking trails and other areas for planned activities.

The number and quality of the activities and services provided usually depends on the type of complex (subsidized affordable senior apartments, market rate or above market rate apartments).

Typical Monthly Cost:

Independent living communities and senior apartments rents range from affordable to maket rate and above market rate depending on the amenities provided.

The affordable category consists mainly of senior apartments that are subsidized by federal, state, or county assistance with the objective of the resident not having to pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income for housing and utilities. The lower rent senior apartments typically have long waiting lists.

Market rate senior apartments are simply those units that are rented for the average price of an apartment in the general area of the complex.

Above market rate independent living complexes have newer high quality apartment buildings. These senior apartments are designed for active seniors who desire high standard and luxury apartment living with an extensive array of amenities and facilities.

Medical / Physical condition of resident that this type of facility would be most appropriate for:

Independent living communities and senior apartment buildings are designed with the needs of the active senior in mind. They are generally located near senior centers, shopping malls, golf courses and public transportation. Many offer van services along with monthly day trips to community events, shopping malls, theaters and live concerts.

Some senior apartment complexes offer congregate living arrangements with meal plans, laundry and other housekeeping services. Other complexes combine independent senior living in apartments with units where assistance with activities of daily living is available.

Most senior apartment facilities are located near public transportation, such as a bus routes or light rail lines.

Health Care / Medical services provided to Residents:

Since these independent living communities and senior apartment buildings are generally for the active senior, they do not have on-site medical care or health services.

Independent living communities and senior apartments are options for seniors who live independently and don't need round the clock medical attention, who are able to take care of themselves or have support from a home health care agency or family.

Some independent living communities and senior apartments are located within large master planned senior housing communities which have apartments, town homes, cluster homes and detached single family homes. These large communities have a wider variety of amenities including golf courses, tennis facilities, private lakes, walking paths, large community clubhouses and fitness centers and other outdoor recreational facilities.

Factors to consider when visiting independent living communities and senior apartment complexes:
  • Condition of the building, upkeep and maintenance.

  • Rental rate and the frequency of rent increases.

  • Availability of congregate care services including meal services.

  • Distance from the parking lot to the building.

  • Security staff and security features including alarms and closed circuit TV monitoring.

  • Proximity of elevators and emergency stairwells from the unit that you are interested in.

  • Proximity to shopping centers and other public facilities such as libraries and senior centers.

  • Availability of public transportation.

  • Distance to medical facilities and doctors

  • Distance to family and friends.

  • Type and extent of amenities and activities (e.g., swimming pool, fitness center, games room, classes, etc.)