The Difference Between Independent and Assisted Living

Posted by Otterbein SeniorLife on Oct 2, 2019, 11:30:00 AM

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Are you considering a move to a senior living community for your loved one, but aren’t sure what type of care they need? 

Independent and assisted living are two options offered at most senior living communities.

Independent living means your loved one will live in their own home or apartment but have access to additional help if needed. Assisted living means your loved one will receive help with the activities of daily living (ADLs), like getting dressed, cooking meals, and doing housework.

Learn more about the differences between these two types of senior living.

What is Independent Living for Seniors?

Independent living, as the name implies, means your loved one will move into a private home or apartment and continue their life as usual. 

They’re free to come and go as they wish, and the benefits of independent living typically include:

  • A maintenance-free lifestyle - someone will be there to take care of fixing appliances, cleaning out the gutters, mowing, shoveling snow, and even changing lightbulbs. 
  • Easy access to amenities like a restaurant, social and cultural events, a fitness center or exercise classes, fun day trips, and more. 
  • Peace of mind that help can be there quickly if needed - many independent living homes or apartments offer a call system that can be used in an emergency.

At a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), a type of senior living community that’s growing in popularity, residents move into independent living homes earlier in life and have access to all the future care they may need right on campus. 

CCRCs usually include assisted living, rehab and therapy, memory care, and skilled nursing. Plus, many CCRCs have on-campus wellness clinics and visiting doctors, so it’s easier to take charge of your health.

Take the independent vs. assisted living quiz to see which is right for your loved one >>

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living still offers residents the freedom to plan their own days, but provides a helping hand with the ADLs they can’t do on their own. 

Depending on the community, assisted living typically includes: 

  • Prepared meals. 
  • Housekeeping and linen service. 
  • Licensed nurses and nursing assistance available at all times. 
  • Help with taking medications. 

The exact services offered in assisted living can vary by community, so be sure to ask your community of interest what they provide. 

Another important thing to note is that assisted living is not the same as skilled nursing or a nursing home. Assisted living residents often lead relatively independent lives and are free to spend their time as they wish. Skilled nursing, on the other hand, is for residents who need help with most activities of daily living as well as medical care.

Which is Right for My Loved One?

Sometimes it’s easy to see which type of care would best suit your needs, but other times you might be unsure.

Our interactive quiz can help you see the differences between the two types and guide you toward the one that’s best for your loved one. You’ll also get helpful information based on your quiz results. 

Take the Quiz >>



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Topics: Independent Living, Assisted Living