Independent living communities enable individuals to maintain their lifestyles without custodial or medical assistance. If custodial or medical care becomes necessary, residents are permitted to bring in outside services of their choice.
Meals and activities are included as part of a monthly resident fee, but assistance with activities of daily living and health services (e.g. medications and nursing care) are not provided. Any housing arrangements designed exclusively for seniors may be classified as an independent living community and follow the US Department of Housing and Urban Development regulations, which allow for age discrimination.
If the age restriction is 55 years and over, at least one person in the apartment must be at least 55 and the apartment community must have no more than 20.0% of all residents under the age of 55. If the restriction is 62 and over, then all residents must be at least 62.
Because independent living facility residents voluntarily choose these housing arrangements, occupancy rates are more closely tied to the state of the economy and the housing market, which determines the ease with which individuals are able to sell their homes to finance moves to industry facilities. As a result, the poor housing market has caused occupancy rates in this segment to dip over the five years to 2015.