For those of you considering a senior community or looking into them for an older loved one, remaining independent is most often the primary concern. Staying in your home is comfortable and familiar and often feels like the ideal scenario. But being at home alone can be isolating and requires regular house maintenance and endless chores. Getting older and having health issues can make all those responsibilities challenging to keep up with.
Moving into a retirement community may seem daunting or restricting. Beyond that, choosing between assisted living and independent living can be confusing. But both can allow retirees to take advantage of newfound freedom, even if you need a little assistance with daily activities from time to time. Here are some essential differences between assisted living and independent living communities that can help guide your decision.
What is assisted living?
Assisted living senior care is for those that need a little bit of support with daily tasks. Most seniors live in an apartment close to other community members. Assisted living is the perfect option for people who can no longer live alone but do not need intensive nursing care. There is help available 24/7 with the simple push of a button, so seniors can get help with basic life tasks when and where they need it, including:
- Cleaning and laundry
- Medication management
- Bathing and grooming and support with ADLs
- Making doctor’s appointments
- Transportation and entertainment
In assisted living, the staff is available 24/7 to check in on residents. Although they don’t diagnose medical conditions, they stay in touch with seniors to ensure they thrive. A significant benefit of assisted living is that it offers families and friends peace of mind that their loved one is being looked out for.
In many cases, seniors in assisted living communities have degenerative health conditions that can worsen with time. Eventually, these seniors will need more extensive care, and so many assisted living communities offer options to transition to nursing homes or memory care.
What is independent living?
Independent living (aka retirement communities) is for self-sufficient active adults who choose to live independently and have a lifestyle free from domestic duties and maintenance. Independent living does not provide medical or nursing care.
An independent living community is usually an age-restricted apartment complex for older adults with meal services, organized activities, and transportation. Independent living is perfect for those who no longer feel comfortable living alone and want to live amongst people their age. People with medical conditions that don’t interrupt basic activities of daily living thrive in this environment. Independent living offers:
- Community involvement
- Continuing sense of self
- Maintenance-free living
- Onsite and off-site activities, like yoga, gardening, or dancing
- Basic services like meals, laundry, housekeeping, and transportation
Independent living communities do not have regular contact with the staff if they don’t wish to. It all depends on the senior’s preferences. Many seniors in independent living communities lead long and healthy lives without the need for additional care.