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Independent Living vs 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 assisted living community and independent living can help you make a decision that best meets your senior loved one’s needs.


Basic Differences between Independent and Assisted Living

Both assisted living and independent living communities offer housing and some support services. Their most notable differences, however, occur in the types and level of personal care services that they provide.


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.


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 live enrichment activities  

In comparison, an independent living community is established for an individual who requires little or no assistance performing their daily routine.


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.


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.


Similarities Between Independent and Assisted Living

 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

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          

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.

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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