Assisted living and other types of senior housing can feel like venturing into foreign terrain, with its own lingo and set of rules. For older adults who are in average or better health, the differences between assisted living and independent living may be unclear. Both lifestyle options can help elders live longer and healthier lives while encouraging autonomy and reducing burdens on caregivers. Each lifestyle option provides its residents with the choice of a private apartment or suite, but there are significant distinctions between them that should be taken into account. To get you started, here is a quick rundown of the basics.
Independent Living VS. Assisted Living
Communities for the elderly come in two main varieties: assisted living and independent living. The two exciting lifestyle options share certain similarities, but there are also important distinctions to consider while making your own decision.
Care and Support
Caregiver support and help with daily living activities including dressing, grooming, bathing, mobility, and medication management are provided in assisted living communities. Many people choose assisted living over independent living because of the availability of 24-hour caregivers.
Assisted living communities are a residential alternative to nursing homes, and they typically consist of 25-120 living apartments ranging in size from studios to multiple-bedroom suites with equipped kitchenettes. Independent living accommodation can offer a lot more privacy in separate wings.
A resident’s individual care services, such as assistance with bathing, toileting, dressing, or medication management, are included in a service care plan that is frequently updated by the medical team at assisted living communities. Independent living rental plans often consist only of the senior living amenities that residents require, as no care services are offered except for emergency cases.
In addition, residents of both communities are generally offered the following:
- Snacks are included on top of the three meals a day
- Care for the apartment or suite and laundry cleaning
- Security personnel on duty round-the-clock and an emergency call system
- Preventative measures include health and wellness programs
- Activities for socializing and leisure
- Complimentary transportation to social events and medical visits
Team members are typically available around the clock at assisted living communities, but residents should not expect the same level of medical attention as they would receive in a hospital. Like assisted living communities, independent living communities provide residents with a maintenance-free environment but without the constant supervision of on-site caregivers and medical professionals.
Choosing Independent Living or Assisted Living
Active older folks who can take care of most of their own needs may be good candidates for an independent living program (i.e. cooking, personal hygiene, managing medications, and money management). The spectrum of care provided by continuing care communities is mirrored in the variety of lifestyle options available to those 55 and older, which can range from apartment complexes to suites.
For older folks who may have spent their entire lives isolated in their homes, the benefits of independent living communities may have a profound impact on their mental well-being. Residents have their own apartments, but the community’s shared amenities, such as the dining hall, lounge, game room, library, computer room, business center, and more, are a major selling point to help them connect with other people within their age group who share similar interests.