Assisted Living vs. Independent Living

How to Choose

As you or your loved one ages, care services and senior housing may be at top of mind. The wide world of senior living options can be confusing, especially if you’ve never had to research it before. Not all seniors need the level of assistance that comes with assisted living communities, nursing homes, or memory care centers. If you or your family member are an active older adult, you may want to consider an independent living community instead.

To learn the differences between assisted living and independent living and which option is best for you, keep reading.

What is Independent Living

Independent living is an excellent option for independent seniors who are completely capable of living an active lifestyle on their own but who are looking for two things: 1) assistance with menial everyday tasks, and 2) additional socialization and community with like-minded seniors.

Independent living communities are often comprised of individual, single-family homes in a closed senior community; sometimes, these communities are full of senior apartments and shared or private accommodations.

These independent living facilities are attractive to seniors who truly want to enjoy their senior years without the responsibility that comes with traditional homeownership. In these communities, many services and maintenance jobs are taken care of for the residents. Things like lawn maintenance, laundry services, housekeeping services, and sometimes even meal preparation are taken care of, leaving the residents with more time to do things they enjoy.

Speaking of those things, another benefit of these communities is the full schedule of activities. These activities take place in the senior community, using shared amenities like a common dining room or living space, swimming pool, or fitness center, or out in the wider community (for instance, at local parks, shopping centers, or movie theaters).

Independent Living Residents

Independent living residents are, as the name implies, living independently. The main draw for them to join one of these retirement communities is not medical care, but instead socialization and connection with other seniors in the same stage of life. If you or your loved one is capable of living independently but still seeking more peace of mind and fewer responsibilities, independent living may be the housing option for you.

What is Assisted Living

Assisted living is a completely different form of senior living and offers a level of care that does not exist in independent living facilities. Assisted living facilities focus on senior care; that includes everything from health care to personal care.

It is a long-term care option for many seniors, though you can ask certain facilities about short-term stays after medical procedures, for instance.

Assisted living care communities focus on assisting seniors with the activities of daily living (ADLs). These activities are things that are basic necessities for living on one’s own; they include things like showering, hygiene, mobility, medication management, and eating alone. If you or your family member are struggling with these activities, that’s a sign that assisted living could be a good option. Assisted living communities have staff members who are trained to offer supervision and support to their residents; depending on the levels of care that the community focuses on, the facility may have skilled nursing care and medical services on-site as well.

These communities often offer everything that independent living communities do (laundry service, housekeeping service, common rooms, and shared amenities) in addition to three meals a day, snacks, a common dining room, and more. The focus is more on additional care that these seniors require.

Which Senior Living Community Should You Choose?

  • If you are an active, able senior who is searching for connection with other seniors, independent living may be right for you.
  • If you struggle to complete instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs)—managing money, cooking, housework, shopping, and laundry—a supportive independent living facility or an active assisted living community could be for you.
  • If you have trouble with activities of daily living (ADLs), consider assisted living communities.
  • If you are considering or already have in-home care for your health care needs, you may benefit from assisted living.
  • If you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer‘s or another dementia condition, consider a continuing care retirement community or memory care facility.

We know that assessing your or your loved one‘s abilities can be difficult. Contact a senior living community today to learn more about your options and what level of care is best for your and your loved one.