Key Differences Between Independent Living vs Assisted Living

Share this content

Your parents have worked hard for decades so that they could retire and enjoy a well-deserved life of enjoyment, relaxation, and freedom.

There was probably a point in life when your dad loved tending to his large lawn or your mom thought of cooking as expressions of love for her family and friends. These days, on the other hand, mowing and raking are becoming bigger chores and cooking for one isn’t as rewarding.

This is the perfect time to start exploring senior living options. Two of the most popular options out there are independent living and assisted living.

What Is Independent Living?

Independent living offers active seniors the benefits of independence without the worry of home maintenance, housekeeping chores, and cooking. Residents enjoy educational, cultural, spiritual, social, and fitness opportunities through the community’s programming.

Services typically provided included making meals, landscaping, housekeeping, social events, transportation, wellness programs, and security services.

Independent Living Home Options

Living independently in senior communities offers diverse housing choices, from apartment-style to cooperative housing. Residents typically have private dwelling spaces while enjoying access to communal areas for social interaction.

Alternative terms for independent living include:

  • Active adult community
  • Senior apartment complex
  • Retirement community
  • 55+ community
  • Retirement home

Tailored for seniors capable of independent living, individual units boast features and amenities similar to those in small homes, townhouses, or apartments. This diverse range of housing options allows seniors to maintain autonomy while fostering a sense of community.

Family Participation in Independent Living

In independent living communities, residents typically hold the primary responsibility for decision-making. However, family members are warmly encouraged to participate in community activities, dining programs, and more. Imagine it like visiting a relative in their own home, with the added benefits of meals and activities included.

Families may receive invitations to resident events, holiday parties, and even have the option to spend the night at their loved one’s apartment.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a smart option for seniors who need some help with everyday tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, preparing meals, and taking medications. It can also accommodate specific care plans to address poor nutrition or other individualized needs.

Services typically include assistance with getting dressed, eating, bathing, using the restroom, health services and medication management, transportation, wellness programs, social events, and housekeeping.

Assisted Living Home Options

Typically, assisted living arrangements adhere to an apartment-style setup. Numerous facilities provide diverse floor plans, encompassing studios, one-bedroom units, and multiple-bedroom apartments. While individual units may or may not come with a kitchenette, included appliances are generally limited for safety reasons. Rooms typically have safety and accessibility features such as grab bars and emergency call buttons.

For assisted living communities offering specialized memory care units designed for seniors with cognitive impairment, heightened security measures are often implemented. These measures may involve the incorporation of locks, surveillance equipment, or supervision at main entrances to ensure the safety and well-being of residents.

Family Participation in Assisted Living

In assisted living communities, family members may assume a more active role in care planning for their loved ones. Authorized relatives may receive regular updates or reports regarding a senior’s care and medical status, ensuring they remain well-informed.

Additionally, family and friends are often welcome to join loved ones for meals and events, and some communities even provide opportunities for relatives to volunteer their time to assist with various activities. It’s essential to note that certain assisted living communities may have specific visiting hours or guidelines pertaining to overnight stays.

Assisted Living Vs Independent Living Costs

Both independent and assisted living typically follow a base rate system, allowing residents to add services and amenities for additional fees. While independent living is typically a private-pay arrangement, financial assistance options are available for seniors requiring assisted living.

Independent Living Costs

The core expenses for independent living residents include rent and utilities. Some communities with luxury amenities may have additional costs like membership or joining fees for specialized recreational opportunities such as private golf courses or swim clubs.

Various meal plans are usually offered for on-site dining, with potential additional costs based on selected services. Many independent living providers adopt all-inclusive pricing to streamline billing and enhance community involvement.

Since independent living communities do not offer medical services, Medicare, Medicaid, or long-term care insurance typically does not cover costs. Seniors must privately fund their expenses using Social Security benefits, pension income, retirement savings, life settlements, annuities, and personal funds. Those requiring specialized care can hire in-home care, allowing them to stay in their current home and potentially delay the need for a higher level of care.

Assisted Living Costs

The base rate for assisted living communities covers rent, utilities, and basic services like meals and housekeeping. Additional services incur extra charges. The median monthly cost for a private one-bedroom apartment in assisted living is $4,500. Rates vary based on location, staff-to-resident ratio, and available amenities.

Assisted living communities provide more substantial assistance and offer various options for cost coverage. Residents can use savings, personal funds, specific long-term care insurance policies, and Aid and Attendance benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. While Medicare doesn’t cover assisted living, Medicaid offers financial assistance for low-income seniors, with eligibility criteria and coverage rules varying by state. Learn how the arbors can help you cover some of the assisted living costs with these financial options.

Which Option Is Right for Your Loved One?

The choice between independent living and assisted living should be determined by the needs — both current and future — of your loved one. Many communities offer both independent and assisted living options. Ideally, you’d find a community where residents are able to adjust their lifestyle based on their changing needs.

If you’re still not sure which option is best, here are a few things to consider:

  • What does your loved one’s daily needs look like now?
  • What does their doctor think?
  • What does your loved one want to do?

If either of you is still unsure, it might be helpful to learn more about what it’s actually like to live in assisted living. Download our eBook, What Is Assisted Living Really Like? to learn about the ways assisted living has changed over the years, what a typical day in assisted living looks like today, the staff you’ll usually meet in assisted living facilities, and how assisted living actually feels like home.

 

Did You Enjoy The Article? Get More Like This.

Receive relevant information, touching resident stories and helpful tips directly to your email inbox. All you need to do is subscribe to our VIP newsletter "Family Ties". It's FREE and you can unsubscribe anytime.

eNewsletter graphic


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details or spam your inbox.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details or spam your inbox.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details or spam your inbox.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details or spam your inbox.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details or spam your inbox.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details or spam your inbox.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details or spam your inbox.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details or spam your inbox.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details or spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Our eBrochure

Simply enter your details below to get access.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Our eBrochure

Simply enter your details below to get access.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.


Note: Your Privacy is very important to us and your details are kept confidential.
You can easily unsubscribe at any time.

Instant Access to the Program Overview Brochure

Get more details about our signature Memory Care program to determine how well it will fit your loved one’s situation. Simply fill out the fields below to get access to the PDF.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Have you decided that assisted living is the best option for your elderly parent, and now are feeling overwhelmed on how to begin your search for the right community?

This guide will go over what you need to know before you make a decision.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Are you considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one but are hesitant about the cost? Assisted living costs, services and amenities vary greatly among the last and most expensive communities, and costs are higher in some states than others.

This guide will answer questions you may have about the costs of assisted living and recommend resources to help you pay for it.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Talking to your aging parent about moving to an assisted living community isn’t easy.

Often, many adult children avoid bringing it up because it can be a sensitive topic.

This guide will provide you with helpful tips and insight on how to have a productive conversation with your parent and siblings regarding your parent’s future.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Difficult behaviors in elderly adults are very common. They may be an expression of frustration your loved one feels or a symptom of early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

This guide will provide you with skills and knowledge on how to handle difficult behaviors your aging parent may be experiencing.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Becoming a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience. It also has its challenges.

There are many questions to answer before making the decision to take care of a loved one.

This guide will provide answers to questions you may have on this topic.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Is your parent or loved one depressed, or just in a bad mood?

What does medication and illness have to do with depression?

How can you help? In this guide, you will be provided with answers to the difficult questions you may have about depression.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Has your aging parent recently lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? Have you noticed a change in their mood and behavior?

This guide will provide you with resources and tools on how to identify depression, what are the common causes of depression, and how to promote mental health in your aging loved one.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Does your loved one need more support than what they are getting? Would they benefit from some assistance with daily activities?

In this guide, you’ll find answers to the most common questions asked about assisted living.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Where do you start searching for assisted living or memory care communities?

What qualities in a community should you look for? How do you know you made the right decision?


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Has your dad stopped getting together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors? Have you stopped enjoying time with your parents because you’re a caregiver?

Choosing an assisted living community is a big decision. Learn how to find the right one for you and your loved one.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, and disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at any time, anywhere.

Yet older adults are among the most vulnerable during a crisis. That’s why it’s critical that seniors, and those who care for them, prepare for emergencies.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Moving to assisted living is a life-changing event.

This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


In this eBook, you’ll learn how to talk with family and friends about caregiving challenges, how to deal with a parent who is resistant to help, how to get more caregiving help from your siblings, and how to keep your job while caregiving.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Have you had to cut back your hours at work to care for your mom? Are you worried about administering medications or injections?

Have you stopped getting together with friends, either because you don’t have the time or you’re too exhausted? Are you becoming the invisible second patient?


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


A Guide to the Most Common Family Caregiver Challenges Associated with Caring for an Aging Parent.

You’ll learn about the true costs of being a family caregiver, common family conflicts that can occur when caring for parents, and some of the unexpected challenges of caregiving.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, including the early symptoms of dementia; the seven stages of dementia and the symptoms that typically accompany each one; and the signs it’s time to start exploring your memory care options.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between assisted living and memory care, how health care professionals are trained in dementia care, common features of a memory care community, and questions you should ask when exploring your memory care options.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Navigating adult sibling relationships can be a challenge, but coming together for the sake of your parent is important.

In this guide, you’ll learn about common sibling conflicts that arise when caring for parents, strategies for getting siblings on board, and where to turn to for help.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


Assisted living can be a touchy subject. No matter how you approach it, your parent is likely to have objections to something.

As you help them transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


This checklist will help to make sure you are getting the most out of your visit to The Arbors.

The list details what important questions to ask during your visit so you are able to make an enlightened choice and find the best assisted living community for your needs.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide


If you’re unsure what Assisted Living looks like in real life, whether there is a difference with nursing homes or a desire to see how community life unfolds, then this guide is exactly what you need.

A guide to discover the Care Team and a Typical Day in Assisted Living.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-How to Choose the Right Assisted Living Community: What You Need to Know Before You Begin Your Search
Have you decided that assisted living is the best option for your elderly parent, and now are feeling overwhelmed on how to begin your search for the right community?

This guide will go over what you need to know before you make a decision.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-Assisted Living Costs and Affordability
Are you considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one but are hesitant about the cost? Assisted living costs, services and amenities vary greatly among the last and most expensive communities, and costs are higher in some states than others.

This guide will answer questions you may have about the costs of assisted living and recommend resources to help you pay for it.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-Having “The Talk” With Your Parent: It’s Time for Assisted Living
Talking to your aging parent about moving to an assisted living community isn’t easy.

Often, many adult children avoid bringing it up because it can be a sensitive topic.

This guide will provide you with helpful tips and insight on how to have a productive conversation with your parent and siblings regarding your parent’s future.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-The Challenges of Aging: How to Handle Your Aging Parent’s Difficult Behaviors
Difficult behaviors in elderly adults are very common. They may be an expression of frustration your loved one feels or a symptom of early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

This guide will provide you with skills and knowledge on how to handle difficult behaviors your aging parent may be experiencing.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-Becoming a Family Caregiver: What You Need to Know Before Deciding to Take Care of a Loved One
Becoming a family caregiver can be a rewarding experience. It also has its challenges.

There are many questions to answer before making the decision to take care of a loved one.

This guide will provide answers to questions you may have on this topic.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-Helping Your Parent Manage Depression
Is your parent or loved one depressed, or just in a bad mood?

What does medication and illness have to do with depression?

How can you help? In this guide, you will be provided with answers to the difficult questions you may have about depression.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-Is It Depression? A Guide to Identifying and Addressing Depression in Aging Adults
Has your aging parent recently lost interest in activities they used to enjoy? Have you noticed a change in their mood and behavior?

This guide will provide you with resources and tools on how to identify depression, what are the common causes of depression, and how to promote mental health in your aging loved one.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-Assisted Living Frequently Asked Questions and Answers
Does your loved one need more support than what they are getting? Would they benefit from some assistance with daily activities?

In this guide, you’ll find answers to the most common questions asked about assisted living.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-Why We Chose the Arbors Assisted Living and Memory Care: A Collection of Stories from Residents Living at The Arbors
Where do you start searching for assisted living or memory care communities?

What qualities in a community should you look for? How do you know you made the right decision?


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

The Arbors Assisted Living-Guide-7 Warning Signs It’s Time to Make the Move to Assisted Living
Has your dad stopped getting together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors? Have you stopped enjoying time with your parents because you’re a caregiver?

Choosing an assisted living community is a big decision. Learn how to find the right one for you and your loved one.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-Getting Your Affairs in Order
No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, and disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at any time, anywhere.

Yet older adults are among the most vulnerable during a crisis. That’s why it’s critical that seniors, and those who care for them, prepare for emergencies.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-Guide to Making the Move to Assisted Living
Moving to assisted living is a life-changing event.

This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-Solutions to Common Caregiving Challenges
In this eBook, you’ll learn how to talk with family and friends about caregiving challenges, how to deal with a parent who is resistant to help, how to get more caregiving help from your siblings, and how to keep your job while caregiving.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

How Moving My Loved One to The Arbors Eliminated My Caregiving Challenges
Have you had to cut back your hours at work to care for your mom? Are you worried about administering medications or injections?

Have you stopped getting together with friends, either because you don’t have the time or you’re too exhausted? Are you becoming the invisible second patient?


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-When is the Right Time for Memory Care?
In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, including the early symptoms of dementia; the seven stages of dementia and the symptoms that typically accompany each one; and the signs it’s time to start exploring your memory care options.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-What to Look for in a Memory Care Community
In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between assisted living and memory care, how healthcare professionals are trained in dementia care, common features of a memory care community, and questions you should ask when exploring your memory care options.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-Brothers and Sisters
Navigating adult sibling relationships can be a challenge, but coming together for the sake of your parent is important.

In this guide, you’ll learn about common sibling conflicts that arise when caring for parents, strategies for getting siblings on board, and where to turn to for help.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-The Standoff
Assisted living can be a touchy subject. No matter how you approach it, your parent is likely to have objections to something.

As you help them transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-11 Most Common Caregiving Challenges
A Guide to the Most Common Family Caregiver Challenges Associated with Caring for an Aging Parent.

You’ll learn about the true costs of being a family caregiver, common family conflicts that can occur when caring for parents, and some of the unexpected challenges of caregiving.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-Checklist_ Questions to Ask When Touring an Assisted Living Community
This checklist will help to make sure you are getting the most out of your visit to The Arbors.

The list details what important questions to ask during your visit so you are able to make an enlightened choice and find the best assisted living community for your needs.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Guide

Guide-What is Assisted Living Really Like
If you’re unsure what Assisted Living looks like in real life, whether there is a difference with nursing homes or a desire to see how community life unfolds, then this guide is exactly what you need.

A guide to discover the Care Team and a Typical Day in Assisted Living.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

Instant Access to Free Cost Comparison guide

You’re probably wondering how much the different senior living options compare to your current situation.
If you do, then this guide is exactly what you need.


NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.