Aging Well

The Pros and Cons of Moving into Independent Living during Coronavirus

When it comes to deciding whether to move into Independent Living during coronavirus, there are no clear answers. However, a good understanding of the pros and cons might help.

Posted Updated
The Cambridge at Brier Creek
Liisa Ogburn
Mom and Dad, both in their eighties, had been planning moving into an Independent Living community this spring before the pandemic. Now they’re afraid, but at the same time, they haven’t left their home in three months, are not eating well and seem to be cognitively declining. What are the pros and cons of Independent Living in an era of coronavirus?
Great question. You’re not alone. And unfortunately, you’re trying to answer a critical question at a time when information is constantly changing. I reached out to several Independent Living communities, including Victoria Sosa, of The Cambridge at Brier Creek, to better understand the pros and cons of moving at this time.

"Although social activities are limited, we still have been able to do many fun activities outside, as well as enable residents to use the pool and gym equipment in small numbers during Phase 2. Since those living at home have been isolated, living in an Independent Living community has been a savior for many. They are able to buy groceries from our kitchen without having to risk getting exposed at the grocery store. They have peace of mind that someone is on site 24/7 in case they have an emergency. We've also been able to help with telehealth visits to avoid doctor's offices."

While specific benefits of Independent Living communities can differ, in general they share the following pros and cons, though in the time of COVID-19, there may be some variations.

  • 24/7 front desk to respond to pull-cord or pendant in event of a fall or medical emergency.
  • Senior accessible design; with safety bars in place in bathrooms etc.
  • Socialization: While pre-COVID, most communities offered 4-6 activities/day, post-COVID, there are fewer and of those offered, many only allow a certain number to attend in order to maintain social distancing.
  • Prepared meals: While some places offer three meals/day as part of their set fee, others may offer one or two or a monthly budget. Pre-COVID, people could freely eat in the dining room together; post-COVID, some places are delivering all meals to the apartments, while others are offering limited seating in the dining area(s).
  • Housecleaning: Most communities include this service, on a weekly or biweekly schedule, as part of the fee.
  • Linens: Many communities provide sheets and towels as part of the monthly fee.
  • All-in-one bill: except for cable packages and cell service, utilities, meals, activities, transportation, etc., are all included in the monthly fee.
  • All provide either a pull-cord system or pendant emergency response system in the event of a fall or health emergency.
  • Mobile physician service: that comes to your apartment (this can help avoid an unnecessary trips out to the doctor or maybe even the ER during afterhours or weekends)
  • On-site physical/occupational/speech therapy
  • Home health: There is typically a third-party home health company on-site that you can order help in short increments.
  • Transportation to/from doctors’ visits.
  • Medication delivery service.
  • Family visits may be limited to on-site in specific areas with masks and distancing
  • Can’t leave community without quarantine- though now you are able to return, but have to be tested. If negative, you do not have to quarantine.
  • Activity calendar more limited
  • Dining rooms closed and food delivered

Of course, deciding to move is a big decision and one that people do not make hastily. However, in these times, staying at home is also a big decision, especially if you are alone and/or without family nearby. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that there is no perfect answer. "Trying on options (in your mind)," like you do clothes in a dressing room, can help you discern what might be the more appropriate path for you.


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