Senior Housing Options: Independent v. Assisted Living

Senior Housing Options: Independent v. Assisted Living

There are so many housing options available when it comes to senior living and retirement. No wonder it’s easy to feel confused and overwhelmed, thanks to the sheer number of homes out there and the different types and styles of care! Whether you’re looking into retirement or senior care for you, or your family, it’s important to understand the differences, as well as the ins and outs of both styles of living, so you can make an informed decision.

Independent Living

Independent living is a pretty inclusive category, and can be comprised of a few different types of housing. Those who live independently, are those in or nearing retirement years (independent living communities are sometimes referred to as “Over 55’s”), with relatively few health problems, that are looking to relax and live a low-maintenance life through their retirement. Depending on the specific facility, Independent Living housing could be private apartments, condominiums, villas or flats, or even townhomes.

Independent living communities don’t provide residents with health care services, so residents must pay privately. Still, many who opt for independent living housing find that they save money compared to a large home mortgage, and they reap the benefits of lawn care and maintenance (and sometimes housekeeping) included in their facilities’ rent.

If you or your loved one are looking to relax and live a pretty active lifestyle through retirement, independent living can be a great choice. You are surrounded by neighbors looking to enjoy retirement, too, and these communities frequently offer tons of amenities and activities. Some have golf courses, tennis courts, pools, and a variety of classes, courses or trips you can choose to take part in.

Assisted Living

Assisted living communities may offer many of the amenities mentioned above, too! But, the primary difference with assisted living lies in the health care and cost aspect. Many who live in assisted living do so because they require more of just that – assistance. Whether that’s day-to-day tasks like housekeeping or meal service, assisted living provides that extra help for those not entirely capable of independent living. It is important to note that assisted living is not as intensive in care as nursing homes, which are a step beyond assisted living, providing even greater assistance.  

Assisted living is typically apartment style (can be studio, one-bedroom, two-bed, or even shared living), with a private or semi-private bath, and may have a kitchen or kitchenette! Housekeeping and maintenance is provided, as well as meal service (3 square per day!), and plenty of activities and opportunities for socialization. Nursing staff may be on call 24-hours a day, in case of emergencies, and medication assistance is usually provided if needed.

Because assisted living facilities provide a more hands-on medical approach (compared to independent living), families or residents can pay in a variety of ways. Medicaid Waiver may be used or other insurances, like Long Term Care Insurance, or even private pay – it depends on the facility itself!