Independent Living Through the Eyes of a Cottage Grove Place Resident

Category News & Blog | Time | Published April 18, 2023

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The reasons people decide to move into an independent living community are as varied as the communities themselves, though there are some common themes.

In some cases, the family home no longer suits an older couple’s or person’s lifestyle, or it becomes too much to maintain. In other cases, the health of a spouse might spur the decision to move.

Quite often, people move to a senior living community—and a LifeCare® community like Cottage Grove Place, in particular—for the peace of mind it provides, both for them and their adult children. While they may not need any type of daily care when they first move into the community, it can be a huge relief knowing care is available, should the need arise.

One of the main reasons many older adults find independent living communities appealing are the social benefits of being around active, like-minded people of similar ages. It’s easy to meet people and form new friendships in a welcoming community like ours, and those connections come with emotional, physical and mental health benefits.

Exactly What Is Independent Living?

It’s not unusual for people to confuse independent living and assisted living, but they’re really quite different.

Simply put, independent living is for older adults who need little or no help with routine activities such as preparing meals, taking medications or personal grooming.

Among the many advantages independent living offers, it can:

  • Alleviate responsibilities associated with maintaining a house
  • Free up more time for enjoyable activities
  • Provide a strong sense of security, because help is always available within a matter of minutes
  • Make it easier to travel and spend extended time away from home
  • Expand one’s social circle, interests, level of activity and support network

Assisted living also offers these advantages, as well as assistance with everyday tasks and routines that older adults may find difficult to manage on their own.

Many senior living communities offer both independent living and assisted living. Life Plan communities—and LifeCare communities, like ours—also offer advanced care, such as skilled nursing, memory care and rehabilitation services.

Independent Living Is an Eligibility Requirement for LifeCare Communities

It’s important to note that seniors typically have to be eligible for independent living when they move into a LifeCare community. In other words, if you wait until you require assisted living, moving to a LifeCare community probably will not be an option. Some communities make an exception for couples when only one spouse or partner needs assistance.

The Difference Between Life Plan and LifeCare Communities

Both types of communities give residents priority access to advanced care offered on the community’s campus, such as assisted living, memory care or skilled nursing. The main difference is the monthly fee in a LifeCare community doesn’t change substantially (there may be slight differences for meal plans, for instance), when a resident transitions from independent living to an advanced care arrangement, but the monthly fee will increase under those circumstances in a Life Plan community.

By the way, Cottage Grove Place is the only senior living community in Cedar Rapids that offers the LifeCare financial option. In addition to having access to advanced care at a predictable cost, residents in our community have the guarantee of being able to stay in their home even if they outlive their financial resources.

Sue’s Story at Cottage Grove Place

Sue and Will Kirkland lived in Cedar Rapids for more than 40 years before they became part of our community in July 2021. They loved their home, which was over 100 years old and had a lovely garden. But after Will had a stroke in 2019, the home and property was more than Sue could maintain and they had to hire outside help.

The Kirklands toured a number of independent living communities in the area, including one that was still under construction. Sue said there was “no comparison” when they toured Cottage Grove Place.

“It was very comfortable to us—it just seemed to fit us. And we found out it was about more than just a new home. It was about being part of a community,” she said, noting that she and Will were impressed by how well the staff member who accompanied them on their visit knew the residents they met along the way.

An “Easy” Decision

According to Sue, several things factored into the Kirklands’ decision to move to Cottage Grove Place, including the LifeCare option, our willingness to alter their chosen apartment to suit their needs and the fact that we’re not far from their former home. There’s also the “long list” of amenities and services we offer, Sue said, adding that she particularly appreciates being able to rely on our maintenance staff if something needs to be repaired.

As it turned out, Sue remarked, having a nurse on call around the clock was important to them, too. She said she has used our emergency response system on three occasions, and each time someone was at their door within five minutes.

“That was really impressive,” she said.

And an Easy Adjustment

Any move can be challenging, but moving from a home you’ve lived in for decades can seem overwhelming. Sue said the LifeCare consultants had several recommendations for senior moving and downsizing vendors that helped tremendously. For example, the moving service she and Will chose used a computer program to help them determine which furniture would fit in their new home.

After they moved, Sue said, she and Will settled into their new surroundings quickly. We have resident ambassadors who volunteer to introduce new people to other residents and help them become familiar with the community. There’s also a resident-led program called Dinner Dates that newcomers can take advantage of to become better acquainted with their neighbors.

Recently, Sue has had to make other adjustments, after Will passed away earlier this year. Adjustments like those are never easy, but she said living here has been “a great source of security and comfort” to her.

“There’s always someone nearby, and I have lots of friends here,” she said.

Sue meets several of her friends for dinner on a regular basis, and she enjoys taking exercise classes in the fitness center and participating in the weekly lifelong learning classes.

From movie showings in our theater on Monday afternoons to Trivial Pursuit on Wednesdays and happy hour just about every day, there are plenty of low-key opportunities to socialize.

“You can always leave your apartment and find somebody to talk to, or go down to the Grill for coffee or some ice cream. That’s always nice, too,” she said.

From New Resident to President of the Resident Council

Cottage Grove Place has an 11-member Resident Council that serves as a liaison with our board of directors. When the previous president of the council resigned earlier this year, Sue was nominated and elected by the community to take on the role.

There are also quite a few resident-led groups, such as the Dining Committee, which Sue serves on. The committee gives feedback and offers suggestions for the community’s dining services. Our new chef started in February, and Sue said the residents are excited about his plans to use the local farmers market for fresh produce and other locally sourced foods.

Ready to Step Up Your Search?

If Sue’s story has inspired you and you’re interested in learning more about Cottage Grove Place for yourself or a loved one, we would be happy to talk with you and show you around our community.

We’re here to answer your questions about independent living communities in general or ours in particular, as well as any other aspect of senior living.

To get started, contact us and let us know if you’d like to schedule a personal experience with one of our team members. We look forward to hearing from you!

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