Two older adult women engaged in conversation on covered front porch

What’s the Difference Between Independent & Assisted Living?

Exploring senior living arrangements for yourself or an aging loved one can be an overwhelming experience. Whether you need help with daily living routines or want to maintain your independence, there is a senior living community that is right for you. But how can you tell which environment is the best fit? Let’s take a closer look at the difference between assisted living and independent living.

What Is Assisted Living?

An assisted living community is ideal for older adults who need health and mobility support. The focus is on maintaining as much independence as possible while assisting with activities of daily living, or ADLs.

This includes:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Using the bathroom
  • Medication management

Residents in an assisted living community receive personalized care that prioritizes safety and comfort while performing everyday tasks. Though senior adults have assistance with daily activities, they also have the freedom to remain active and pursue their interests.

What Is Independent Living?

In contrast to assisted living, independent living is for active seniors who do not require assistance with activities of daily living. Seniors can enjoy maintenance-free living with plenty of opportunities for socializing, activities, and connecting with others their age. An independent living lifestyle provides a safe environment that makes everyday life easier by minimizing a senior’s daily responsibilities. This means services and amenities like housekeeping, laundry, meals, maintenance, and landscaping are typically provided.

Differences Between AL & IL

The level of care provided is the primary difference between assisted living and independent living. While independent living helps active seniors meet their social needs while providing minimal support, assisted living caters to seniors who need help managing daily care. Since hands-on care isn’t the focus of an independent living community, they will not typically provide round-the-clock medical care or staff. This is unlike an assisted living facility, which offers support and medical staff at all times.

There are also differences in housing arrangements. Independent living offers a variety of living arrangements, ranging from single-family homes to apartments and villas. Residents live in their own private living spaces but have access to common areas, activities, and amenities. Seniors in assisted living communities usually reside in an apartment-style living space that is close to other residents’ living quarters.

Seniors sitting & conversing on front porch

Assisted Living vs. Independent Living Facilities: Which Is Right For You?

Ultimately, the decision between independent living and assisted living should be based on the needs of your loved one or yourself. As you evaluate your options, consider these points:

If you’re struggling with completing ADLs like medication management, hygiene, getting to the bathroom, or dressing, assisted living may be right for you. Consider an independent living community if you’re an active senior who can manage ADLs but would enjoy living near other older adults to connect with. You may benefit from an assisted living community if you already receive in-home care to meet your needs. If you can live alone, do not have any health concerns, and want to avoid daily chores and other responsibilities, like home and yard maintenance, consider independent living.