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What Is the Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living?

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What Is the Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living?

When the time comes to begin thinking about senior housing, you will find there are many factors to consider. So many, in fact, it may feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be that way!


Knowing the basic differences and similarities between an independent living and assisted living facility can help you make a decision that best meets your senior loved one’s needs. You can begin to determine which level of care is best for your loved one by evaluating their ability to manage daily activities without the assistance of others. Independent living facilities are best for seniors who are able to live on their own, but want the convenience of having extra support if needed; while seniors who require regular access to personal care assistance should consider assisted living.


Learn more about the key differences between independent living vs assisted living below!


Assisted Living for Seniors 

Argentum, previously the Assisted Living Federation of America, explains that the design of an assisted living community is to provide long-term care for an individual who may require support with everyday activities, but does not need the level of skilled care that is provided within a nursing home. Seniors suited for assisted living may need help with daily tasks including bathing, dressing, medication reminders, and transportation.


The kinds of support that you will find offered in an assisted living community typically include:


  • Access to personal care assistance for both scheduled and unscheduled requests such as toileting and bathing
  • 24-Hour emergency call systems with the individual resident's apartment
  • Support with medication management
  • Wellness programs and life enrichment activities 

Learn more about assisted living facilities.


Independent Living for Older Adults

In comparison, an independent living community is established for an individual who requires little or no assistance performing their daily routine. Older adults who choose an independent living community are typically looking for security, freedom from household chores and maintenance, and opportunities for socialization and life enrichment. They often live an active lifestyle and are looking to enjoy their retirement without the responsibilities and upkeep of owning a home.


The level of personal care found in assisted living is typically not found in independent living communities. If personal care or nursing staff are required, these services are generally established privately.


Learn more about independent living.


Similarities Between Independent and Assisted Living

Both assisted living and independent living communities offer older adults a sense of privacy and independence. Residents are able to leave when they wish, and family members are generally able to stop in without worrying about strict visiting hours. Families also benefit from knowing that their loved one is in a caring environment that offers support and provides for their safety.

Both assisted living and independent living communities offer housing and some support services. Amenities provided by both of these two types of adult care communities often include:

Dining Programs

  • Three well-balanced meals served daily
  • Snacks provided between meals

Lifestyle Assistance

  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Access to shuttle buses or other transportation
  • Beautician and barber on premises

Common Areas for Socialization

  • Dining room
  • Wellness and fitness room
  • Gaming room
  • Library

Access to Daily Life Enrichment Activities

  • Yoga
  • Stretching
  • Chair exercises
  • Walking
  • Movie nights
  • Holiday celebrations
  • Special interest groups like gardening and crafts

How to Choose Between Independent and Assisted Living

When it comes to independent vs. assisted living, keep your loved ones best interests in mind. While independent living may be a better option for a senior who wants to maintain their independence with support if needed, assisted living could be a better option for those who need additional assistance with activities of daily life.

No matter the care program you and your loved one choose, independent and assisted living are both meant to be tailored to your family’s specific needs. At Elmcroft Senior Living, we pride ourselves on providing the best health, lifestyle and comfort options to those looking for senior living. To learn about independent living and assisted living at Elmcroft, contact one of our local communities near you.

Explore More Helpful Resources

Independent Living FAQs

A popular type of senior housing is one designed for more active older adults. Continue reading to find answers to commonly asked questions about independent living.

Learn More
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