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What is the difference between independent living and assisted living?

When it comes to choosing the right supportive living environment, the choices can feel endless and start to become overwhelming. With so many different types of supportive living, it is difficult to know where to begin or what to choose. One of the best strategies is to schedule visits and see the communities in person. Prior to visiting, however, it is a good idea to compare and contrast all available options. Sometimes seeing the pros and cons on paper can go a long way towards helping you make your decision.

Today, let’s compare the differences between independent living and assisted living communities. Specifically, let’s consider seven questions and answers about each one:

1. What is the required age for independent living residents?

Typically, seniors aged 55 or older can take advantage of living in an independent senior community. As long as an individual can live independently on their own, they can enjoy the benefits of independent living. Independent living communities bring together individuals of a similar age and lifestyle who enjoy doing many of the same things in a comfortable, friendly environment.

For assisted living communities, the minimum age requirement varies from place to place, but most also require seniors to be at least 55 years old.

2. What assistance is offered in each type of community?

The word independent, in an independent living community, correctly implies full independence of mind and body. In other words, residents of an independent living community virtually need no daily assistance with typical living activities (including, but not limited to meal preparation, medication intake, personal grooming, or housekeeping). Most independent living communities do offer home and property maintenance benefits such as lawn care and snow removal as well as restaurant-style dining, some housekeeping services, and complimentary transportation to appointments.

Assisted living communities offer different levels of assistance, but most often, residents want a little extra assistance in areas of medical and personal care (such as bathing or dressing, for example). Assisted living communities offer differing levels of care. Often this is reflective in the cost of living within the community and depends, in part, on the licensure of the community.

3. Are regular activities offered at the communities?

Every independent living community is unique and offers its own benefits, but many communities do offer regular group activities, programs, and classes as an option for residents. Communities around the country continue to offer an increased number of meaningful activities and opportunities for their residents. One reason? Research continues to indicate that staying active contributes to overall health and wellness. Like independent living communities, assisted living communities often offer common areas where residents participate in social activities such as game tournaments, arts and crafts, and movie nights. Also, it is common for communities to plan social trips into town for dinners or shopping. Truly, the sky is the limit when it comes to activities offered in these communities!

4. What is the typical living arrangement in each type of community?

Most often, independent living communities are comprised of cottage-style homes or apartments and offer many amenities, such as swimming pool, theater, fitness center, game room, and more. Many independent living communities provide security and cover some utilities, which are included in the monthly fee.

Assisted living typically happens most effectively and efficiently in apartment-style housing. The aim of assisted living is to provide members with as much independence as possible, while still being available to help when necessary. Most assisted living communities offer some level of care in the following categories: activities, meals, transportation, and security.

5. What are some of the benefits of living in a community?

In addition to the things mentioned above, both types of communities offer residents the opportunity to enjoy an environment built around connecting people and providing the means to participate in regular activities. Often, residents can bike, dance, golf, swim, or practice yoga without ever leaving the community.

Living in an assisted living community may allow the cost of assistance to be lower than it would be if an individual lived alone or in a place where continuous medical care was provided. Assisted living provides many residents with the right balance between assistance and independence and sets them up for successful aging.

6. Is assisted living the same thing as nursing home living?

This is one of the most common questions asked about assisted living. The short answer is no. Assisted living is not the same thing as living in a nursing home. The easiest way to differentiate the two is that assisted living is a type of housing that also provides some care, whereas nursing homes offer the highest level of care for seniors who don’t require hospitalization but do need day-to-day medical care.

7. How does assisted living differ from an independent living community?

Independent living is not the same thing as assisted living. While individuals who choose assisted living may be able to live independently, they require some assistance with daily activities.

The simplest way to differentiate assisted living communities from independent living communities is in the word “assistance.” Assisted living communities offer an increased level of assistance to its residents that is not found in an independent living community.

Residents of independent living communities do not typically require assistance with tasks such as cooking, bathing, or transportation; however, independent living communities do often offer some services such as dining, housekeeping, and maintenance.

While there are similarities between independent living and assisted living communities, the two have distinct differences, and choosing the right type of community is an important decision. True Connection Communities offers independent living and active adult living options for seniors aged 55 or older who are seeking an active and engaged lifestyle. Contact us today or schedule a tour at one of our locations to learn more. At our communities, you can discover the freedom to connect more closely with family and friends, engage in exciting new adventures, and be inspired to explore a whole new way of life.

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