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How Is Assisted Living Different From Independent Living?

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When choosing a senior living community for a loved one, deciding between the different options can be challenging. Independent living and assisted living communities can each provide unique benefits, making it important to understand their differences.

While both choices share similar aspects, some things make them different. 

Independent living rarely offers medical support and is designed to promote an active, healthy life where residents can socialize and live in a community setting. Assisted living offers a customized care plan so residents can receive the necessary help and medical support.

How Does Independent Living Work?

When seniors are looking for a community where they can remain independent but have access to a wide range of amenities and experiences, independent living is an option. These communities are typically set up as a group of townhouses, condos, or apartments within a complex. 

The communities offer residents the opportunity to downsize and avoid the hassle of maintaining a property themselves and offer a range of benefits over living alone, including:

  • A sense of community with like-minded people
  • Programs and services that promote socializing with neighbors
  • Access to fitness centers, pools, libraries, and often even stores, theatres, and salons
  • No need to maintain or clean a property themselves

These communities are an option for seniors who can manage their daily routine without help. By promoting a supportive and social environment, independent living allows residents to pursue their interests without the hassle of maintaining their own property.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities are different in the way they help their residents. These communities are designed for seniors who can manage most of their daily routines but may need help with some tasks. 

For example, if a resident has difficulty dressing, cleaning, or cooking, assisted living communities can create a care plan so an on-site team member can help them. This allows every person there to maintain their quality of life and receive the care they need while still retaining most of their independence.

Assisted living also gives residents access to medical care and 24/7 help from the teams around them. This can provide a great deal of peace of mind to both residents and their families knowing support is easily accessible in case of an emergency. This makes assisted living an option for seniors with mobility problems or medical conditions affecting their daily lives.

These communities also offer programs and services to the residents, ranging from classes to arts and crafts, where seniors can socialize with the people around them.

How Are Assisted Living & Independent Living Different?

While these communities share some similarities, they’re designed for different situations to give seniors the needed environment. Assessing your or your loved one’s needs is important to determine which community is suitable.

The Level of Care

Typically, independent living focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle and social options. However, these communities rarely offer round-the-clock medical services, and they don’t offer care plans to help residents with their daily life.

Meanwhile, assisted living is designed to help seniors struggling with some daily tasks. They also offer medical care and support to their residents and customize treatment plans to provide the care they need.

The Cost of Living

Typically, the cost structure between these communities differs. Since independent living rarely offers care plans, the fee is usually based on rent and utility costs, with the option to choose additional services at extra cost.

On the other hand, assisted living typically costs a monthly fee with additional charges depending on the level of care needed for residents.

Medical Care & Staffing

In independent living, there is rarely on-site medical care—if residents require daily medical assistance, they’re often in charge of arranging treatment for themselves.

However, assisted living often has licensed healthcare professionals on-site 24/7, so residents can access medical aid when required. These professionals can help with medication management and monitor the health of residents to prioritize their health and often help arrange medical care if it can’t be provided on-site.

The Level of Independence

While both forms of senior living promote independence for seniors, there are some differences in how autonomous each resident is. Independent living is similar to any apartment—residents can usually come and go as they please and maintain their daily routines.

Meanwhile, seniors living in assisted living may have restrictions or other guidelines they need to follow for their own safety and well-being. This can include anything from designated meal times to a schedule for medication.

A senior man with a cane smiles and laughs while sitting outside with a nurse and other seniors

Which Choice Is Right for Me?

Depending on a senior’s specific needs, one may be more beneficial than the other. Independent living is recommended if a resident can remain independent and doesn’t require medical care in their daily life. Assisted living may be the way to go if medical care is needed or a resident needs help with their daily tasks.

Either way, it’s essential to tour a community before deciding. This allows you and your family to see the community and determine if it’s an appropriate place to live. If you or a loved one need a new community to call home, try scheduling a tour with us here at The Legacy at Cimarron, and take the first step toward your new life.

Written by LifeWell

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