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What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Independent Living?

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Difference Between Assisted Living and Independent Living

When it comes to choosing a senior living community, the choices are endless. From location to amenities to accommodations, today’s senior communities are customized and personalized to meet the needs of every resident. One of the first decisions made in the search for a senior community is to determine which community lifestyle best meets your needs.

Learn about the major differences between independent living and assisted living and how to determine which type of community is best for you or your loved one.

Differences Between Independent Living and Assisted Living

Independent living and assisted living communities may initially look very similar. Typically, they both offer a robust activities schedule, meal services, a 24-hour staff, housekeeping and laundry services, transportation, and much more of the same community amenities.

The real differences between the two lie in the level of medical care being provided by the staff. In independent living, residents do not rely on the staff for medical care. They manage their own medications and do not require assistance with activities of daily living, like dressing or bathing. Assisted living is primarily designed to meet the needs of seniors who are no longer able to live safely on their own. Independent living meets the needs of seniors who can live safely on their own, but desire a community environment

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Aging in Place

To make the decision easier, some independent living communities offer assisted living services and memory care services in the same community. Sometimes these services are offered in the exact same location, other times they are offered within the community but in a separate wing or neighborhood. This continuum of care services means that residents can age in place, without the hassle and headache of finding a new home if needs should change over time.

Some independent living communities offer in-home care services so that if they don’t offer a certain medical service, the resident is able to bring in an in-home caregiver for their needs. This offers residents flexibility and can allow them to stay in independent living for longer with a professional caregiver helping them manage their activities of daily living.

When searching for a senior community be sure to ask if the community has a continuum of care, their policy on bringing in caregivers, and how residents can change into the assisted living program from independent living, if they should need additional services.

Determining Your Level of Care

When determining which community is best for you and your family right now, ask yourself or your loved one these questions.

  1. Have you recently fallen or been injured in your home?
  2. Do you feel unsafe in your home?
  3. Have you recently lost or gained a significant amount of weight?
  4. Would you appreciate help in managing your medications?
  5. Is your personal hygiene lacking and would you like help in caring for yourself from a professional caregiver?
  6. Have you recently forgotten to eat or do you frequently skip meals?
  7. Do you feel safe driving your car?
  8. Do you worry about injuring yourself or causing damage to your home while preparing meals in the kitchen?

Answering “yes” to these questions may mean that assisted living is the best choice for you or a loved one. A confident “no” may mean that independent living is a good choice, especially if the community allows residents to age in place. We invite you to visit our independent living and assisted living communities, to see what each one looks like and feels like, and to see which one is right for your family.

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About the author

Alissa has been working in marketing and the senior living industry for over 8 years. With a B.S. in advertising from the University of Illinois, Alissa has worked all over the world as a freelance communications strategist and writer. Published in Forbes, Senior Finance Advisor, Alzheimers.net and on other leading senior care blogs, she leverages her working knowledge of the senior care industry with leading research and best practices to create engaging content benefitting seniors and their caregivers. In her free time, Alissa loves to travel, read, cook, and spend time with her family.