Independent Living or Assisted Living: Which is the best choice for you?

Jun 8, 2021
Senior couple sitting on couch, talking

Senior living has come a long way in the past several decades and today there are more choices than ever before. But that can make the decision more confusing for seniors unless they know what the differences are. To make the best senior living choice, take a look at some of the differences and similarities between independent and assisted living.

Level of help needed

Perhaps the single greatest difference between independent and assisted living is the level of care available for residents. In assisted living, residents may need help with different activities of daily living like dressing, personal hygiene, mobility, eating meals, and taking medications. Seniors get support from trained staff 24/7 according to their needs and can receive more care as needed. Assisted living is also available in some communities for respite care and rehabilitation following a hospital stay. For more about making the right senior living choice, our blog, “Assisted Living: Not a Nursing Home,” can help.

Residents in independent living, on the other hand, generally do not need daily help and can dress, feed, and otherwise care for themselves without staff assistance. The great thing about independent living communities, however, is that there is help close by should the need suddenly arises, and unlike at home, it can be available very quickly. For more information about making the right choice check out our blog, “Top Questions to Ask When Considering an Independent Living Community.”

Accommodations in assisted living and independent living

Due to the need for a higher level of care, seniors in an assisted living generally reside in apartment-like settings so that everything, including caregivers, is under one roof. This makes it easier to get the help they need in a timely manner and provides a variety of activities close by. For those with mobility concerns, this is preferable so they feel part of the community and are not isolated. Overall, residents of assisted living can finally feel the help they need every day is ready and willing and that they can relax and enjoy life without fear of being a burden. Find out more about assisted living in our blog, “Pros and Cons of Moving to an Assisted Living Community.”

Accommodations for independent living may also be in apartment-type buildings, but often are separate structures such as townhomes or villas within a community. Since many residents of independent living also drive their own cars, they may also have garages. This allows them to live more independent lives while remaining close to shared community assets like dining rooms and cafes, activities, outdoor spaces, and exercise and wellness facilities. Independent living is more like living at home with full kitchens, main-level laundry, and their own decks and patios. They also may have access to housekeeping, laundry, and grocery delivery services for an additional fee. Best of all, yard maintenance is included so they have more time to enjoy life without chores. For more about independent living, read our blog, “The Benefits of Moving to an Independent Living Community.”

Safety and security:

Senior living communities offer two things it’s hard for seniors to get at home: safety and security. For starters, the buildings are designed to be accessible and safe to live in with few or no stairs or other obstructions, and essentials like grab bars in bathrooms. Secondly, senior living communities are inherently more secure than life at home because they have 24/7 alarm systems as well as other security measures. Other amenities may include on-site pharmacy services, and well-maintained and secure outdoor areas for walking, resting and relaxing alone or with friends and family.

Exceptional amenities in assisted living and independent living

Both assisted living and independent living choices also offer great amenities like chef-prepared meals, organized recreation and exercise programs, art, craft and cooking classes, games and movies, performances by local musicians, and even ballroom dancing lessons. Most also offer on-site beauty salon and barber shop services. For those who like to be out and about, off-site excursions are planned to local events and venues, and even occasional overnight trips. Everything is planned down to the smallest detail so that residents can enjoy themselves without all the usual day-to-day hassles. For seniors in independent living, communities also offer transportation to on-site events and activities and everyone can take advantage of off-site transportation for shopping and appointments.

Today, senior living choices are available for every level of care or just to live in a more secure environment among friends. No matter which is the right choice, seniors will find themselves in a warm and welcoming environment where life is easier and much more fun. For more information about Countryside, please call Margaret Nagel at (517) 206-5000 or download our brochure to learn about our care levels, cost and amenities.

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