Independent Living vs. Assisted Living

Posted on: September 19, 2018

When it comes to choosing the right supportive living environment, the choices can feel endless and start to be 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 make visits and see the communities in person. Prior to making visits, 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:

Independent Living Communities

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

For most independent living communities, there is no age requirement. 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.

2. Is an independent living community the same as assisted living?

Independent living is not the same thing as assisted living. While individuals who choose assisted living may be able to live independently, they often require some assistance with daily activities. Members of independent living communities do not require assistance with tasks such as cooking, bathing or transportation. However, independent living communities often offer some services such as dining and maintenance.

3. What assistance is offered in independent living communities?

The word “independent” in “independent living community” correctly implies full independence of mind and body. In other words, members 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). Residents are free to hire individuals to help in these areas if they so choose, but the community doesn’t typically offer assistance. Most independent living communities do offer home and property maintenance benefits such as lawn care and snow removal.

4. Are regular activities offered at the community?

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. Often, there is a general meeting building or area where members are invited to participate in social opportunities such as game tournaments, craft meet-ups or movie nights. Also, because many independent living communities are located in or near major metropolitan areas, it is common for communities to plan social trips into town for dinners or shopping.

5. What activities are available at independent living communities?

At an independent living community, you have the freedom to personalize your lifestyle. Independent living communities offer a range of activities and events so you can pursue a vibrant, active retirement. Take advantage of groups and clubs, catch a movie at the theater or tag along for a tour of a museum.

6. What is the typical living arrangement in an independent living community?

Most often, independent living communities are comprised of single-family homes or senior apartments. Commonly, these homes are energy efficient with open floor plans on a single level. Additionally, home owners pay a monthly association-type fee to help cover the costs of group amenities like a swimming pool or shuttle bus. Many communities provide security, as well, which is included in the monthly fee.

7. What are some of the benefits of an independent living community?

In addition to the things mentioned above, residents in independent living communities often enjoy the leisure of an atmosphere built around people and social or cultural amenities they enjoy. Often, residents are able to bike, dance, golf, swim or practice yoga without ever leaving the community.

Assisted Living Communities

1. What is the required age of assisted living residents?

The minimum age requirement for an assisted living community varies from place to place. Some communities require that a certain percentage of its members be 55 or older, but that doesn’t mean an individual cannot live in an assisted living community before age 55.

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

The simplest way to differentiate assisted living from independent living communities is in the word “assistance.” Assisted living communities offer an increased level of assistance to its members that is not found at an independent living community. Residents of an assisted living community are mostly independent and do not need assistance 24 hours a day.

3. What assistance is offered in assisted living communities?

Assisted living communities offer different levels of assistance, but most often, residents want a little extra assistance in areas of 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.

4. Are regular activities offered as part of the community?

Assisted living 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. Similar to independent living communities, assisted living communities often offer a general meeting area where members are invited to participate in social opportunities such as game tournaments, craft meet-ups or 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 assisted living!

5. Is assisted living essentially 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 primarily offer care and also provide housing. They are not one and the same.

6. What is the typical living arrangement in an assisted living community?

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.

7. What are some of the benefits of an assisted living community?

In addition to the things mentioned above, assisted living communities offer members the opportunity to socialize and participate in regular activities while receiving the level of assistance necessary for daily life. Additionally, living in an assisted living community allows 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.

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. Pine Ridge of Garfield is a vibrant independent living community located in Clinton Township, Michigan. Our community offers a range of amenities, services and programs to keep your mind, body and spirit engaged. Contact us today to schedule a tour, or visit us during our Welcome Wednesday Open House to learn more.