If you or an older family member are considering moving to a senior living community, you may be wondering what type of care is best. People often find it confusing to understand how independent living differs from assisted living. It’s an important distinction.
Both types of senior housing are popular with seniors and their families. They provide older adults with an environment that supports their quality of life during retirement. Each is designed to offer services and amenities that meet the unique needs of seniors who are at different stages of life.
What Is Independent Living?
Independent living communities are an ideal retirement option for active seniors. They offer a lifestyle free from the burdens and financial costs of home ownership. Most independent living communities include maintenance, housekeeping, snow removal, lawn care, and trash removal in their basic fee.
Because residents don’t have to worry about the demands of keeping up a home, they have more time to pursue hobbies, favorite pastimes, and other interests. Independent living communities typically offer a wide array of life-enrichment activities. They range from yoga and tai chi to card clubs, movie nights, and art classes.
Independent living communities often host local group outings, organize travel to destinations near and far, and coordinate volunteer projects.
A few of the benefits of moving to an independent living community include:
- Fitness classes: Wellness programs like chair yoga, stretching, swimming, walking, weight training, and Pilates are common.
- Life enrichment: On-campus lectures, musical entertainment, art classes, religious services, craft workshops, gardening, and volunteer projects are all popular activities.
- Informal gatherings: Another advantage of an independent living community is how easy it is to expand social networks. There are many informal opportunities to make new friends, from residents gathering over a cup of coffee in the dining room to a friendly game of billiards in the game room.
- Safe environment: These communities also offer peace of mind. Accessible bathrooms, fire-suppression systems, grab bars, and handrails are usually standard.
What Is Assisted Living?
An assisted living community offers the same benefits as independent living, but with an added layer of care and support. They offer assistance with tasks that are referred to as activities of daily living. Those include help with medication management, assistance with personal care, and support with toileting.
Another question people often ask is how assisted living communities differ from nursing homes. The primary distinction is that while assisted living residents require support with the activities of daily living, nursing home residents usually have more complex medical needs. This care is usually provided by skilled nurses, therapists, and other licensed medical professionals.
In an assisted living community, the services generally offered include:
- Help with bathing, grooming, and dressing
- Monitoring of chronic health conditions
- Nutritious meals and snacks
- Toileting and continence care assistance
- Medication administration and reminders
- Transportation for appointments and errands
Preparing for the Transition
Older adults and their families often say just the idea of downsizing their home for a move keeps them from making a decision. To learn how to make the process easier, it may be helpful to read “Downsizing & Decluttering for Seniors.”