As we all age and grow old, there comes a time where we can no longer take care of ourselves the way we used to. When this happens to us or our loved ones, we often find ourselves at the first step on the journey towards senior living.
The journey is different for everyone.
For some, it may begin as a hands-off type of environment like independent living; for others, it might require a location with a bit more assistance.
Everything will depend upon an honest assessment of the level of care that is needed to live a comfortable, happy life.
However, the differences between the levels of care of assisted living and independent living can often overwhelm and confuse us.
Factor in the different caregiving roles, family dynamics, budget, location, and lifestyle considerations and you can understand why some senior living arrangements are no longer one size fits all.
The information below will help you understand the key differences, as well as pros and cons, of each type of community to help guide the decision-making process at the first step of this journey.
What is the Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living?
To understand the difference between the two, it is first important to define each one.
Independent living is a type of senior living option in which self-sufficient residents live in a private studio or apartment home within a community of other seniors with access to such services as dining, housekeeping and social activities.
Assisted living is a different type of care option in which residents receive assistance with activities of daily living (ADLS) such as bathing, dressing and taking medication— but they still value their independence and want to live in a community with like-minded-individuals.
The main difference between assisted living vs. independent living is the level of care that is required and the goals of the communities.
For example, the goal of an assisted living community is in the name— to provide assistance with personal care. This is what makes it a higher, more hands-on level of care.
Meanwhile an independent living community is dedicated to providing older adults with the freedom they need to live every day to the fullest as well as giving them access to as much or as little support and medical care as they require, should the need ever arise. This is what makes it a lower level of care, but still a viable senior housing option for many seniors across the United States.
Why Not Assisted Living?
In some cases, there are circumstances that make another type of senior living a better option over an assisted living community.
Some of those circumstances may include:
- As it is a higher level of senior care, the cost may be higher than that of independent living in order to pay for the additional services available. However, when it comes to the health and comfort of your loved one, the price may be well worth it.
- If specialized care services are needed for Alzheimer’s disease, incontinence, or other chronic health issues that require 24/7 skilled nursing care, an assisted living facility may not be ideal. Memory care or a skilled nursing home may be more appropriate in these cases.
What are the Advantages of Independent living?
As this retirement community is ideal for older adults with an active lifestyle who seek a vibrant social community without the hassle of chores and home upkeep, there are MANY advantages to choosing and independent living community, including:
- Living in community of like-minded individuals of a similar age
- Accommodations that range from smaller studios and senior apartments to larger free-standing cottages and condominiums
- Carefree living where you can opt into services such as housekeeping, laundry, and more
- The option to cook for yourself, but also partake in restaurant-style eating at a community dining room with friends
- A variety of socialization outings, enrichment opportunities, activities, and clubs
- Many of the communities offer resort-like amenities that include concierge services, a pool, fitness center, library, golf course, and more
- Peace of mind of knowing that access to health care is well within reach
Why Not Independent Living?
Once again, there are few reasons not to choose an independent living community, rather there are circumstances that make another type of senior living—such as assisted living or home care—a better option.
Some of those circumstances may include:
- Medical staff members are not always available 24/7 in an independent living community. If assistance with activities of daily living is needed, or there are serious health issues to manage, independent living may not be the best fit.
- As this is a form of long-term residence that usually does not require medical care, Medicaid and Medicare will not cover any length of stay in an independent living community.
Choosing A Senior Living Community
It’s difficult to move a loved one out of their home and into a senior living community.
This becomes especially difficult when your loved one can’t take care of themselves the way they used to, and need some level of assistance with everyday tasks.
However, knowing your options is a good way to help the transition go as smoothly as possible.
While there are many similarities in the care, facilities, and activities in both assisted living and independent living, recognizing the differences between these communities is the key to finding the correct home for your loved one.
Picking the right community guarantees that your loved one lives their life with the optimal quality of life in their senior years.
Find a senior living community near you today.