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What is the Difference Between Senior Independent Living and Assisted Living?

May 24, 2022

If you or a loved one are looking for the perfect retirement community, you may be having some difficulty determining the level of care that is needed. When you hear terms like senior independent living and assisted living, you may find yourself wondering what exactly they mean.


The terms themselves are actually fairly clear and indicative of the type of lifestyle they involve. Independent living is best suited for those who can see to their own basic needs and want to continue much as they always have, but with the option to receive help if and when it is needed. Assisted living, on the other hand, would be a more suitable choice for those who want or require a little more help on a regular basis. It’s important to know what each choice offers, however, to make the right choice for your individual needs.


Senior Independent Living

Independent living essentially refers to any housing arrangement that is designed for seniors who are capable of living on their own, but who don’t necessarily want to handle some of the bigger concerns themselves. Being a homeowner means always having work to do. Walls may need painting, fixtures might need repairs or to be updated, and regular cleaning, cooking, and maintenance are all to be expected. There are also physical tasks throughout the year such as mowing the lawn in summer and shovelling snow in winter. The home is a constant work in progress.


While many homeowners do enjoy taking care of their house and property, there may come a time when certain chores become increasingly difficult to handle alone and doing so is no longer desirable. Despite not wanting to handle some of these larger tasks, other daily activities such as cooking and light cleaning remain possible and enjoyable.


For seniors in these instances, independent senior living can be an excellent choice. Living in an independent living centre means that they can continue to take care of themselves and enjoy life as they always have. They can do as they wish, knowing that the more significant chores are being handled for them.


Most independent living communities also offer many activities and services ranging from arts and crafts, social gatherings, movie nights, and continuing education classes. They may feature or have access to fitness centres, swimming pools, game rooms, and more.


Although the emphasis is placed on allowing residents to be self-sufficient, help and support are available as needed. Independent senior living typically includes features such as:


  • The ability to cook your own meals or have them prepared. Once you taste some of the prepared meals, you may decide to have the chef handle all of the cooking.
  • Hospitality services. If you need or simply want assistance with laundry and cleaning, it is available.
  • Independence and privacy, with social areas when you wish to mingle with others. This is your home and there will be times when you want privacy, but there is always the option for social gatherings.
  • Options for group activities, including trips to museums, historic attractions, beaches, and more.
  • The freedom to have friends and family visit whenever you like, including for meals. Having loved ones come by can make even the best days better.
  • Assistance is available 24/7 if you need it so that you can rest easy.


Assisted Living

Assisted living is a home-like environment that is more suitable for those who need help with some, but not all, of their daily needs. Residents in an assisted living community will still have the freedom to live an independent lifestyle, only with a little more in the way of regular support.


Those who benefit from assisted living communities are those who are still capable of caring for themselves with some assistance. There may be some differences from one community to another, but in general, one can expect the following:


  • Assistance with personal hygiene, such as bathing or brushing teeth.
  • Help getting dressed and undressed. Residents with mobility issues or other medical conditions may need assistance.
  • Medical assistance. While not everyone in an assisted living community suffers from serious conditions, medical help is available at varying levels.
  • Two cooked meals and a bistro breakfast each day.
  • Housekeeping, maintenance, and laundry services are included.
  • 24/7 nursing care, so you can be assured the medical attention you need.


Making the Right Choice for You

Ultimately, only you and your loved ones will know the level of support needed. It is worth considering future needs as well as current ones, and there are some questions that you should ask yourself to help you decide:


  • Are you still active and independent?
  • Do you expect to maintain your active lifestyle?
  • Can you manage your own personal care?
  • Are you capable of managing your medications and health concerns on your own?


If so, independent living may be the right choice for you. If you are hesitant or a bit uncertain, ask yourself the following:


  • Have you experienced a fall or series of falls?
  • Are there signs that you need some help with regular daily activities?
  • Are you or your loved ones concerned about your personal care and safety?
  • Is meal preparation becoming difficult, perhaps leading to skipped or unhealthy meals?
  • Are there mobility issues making it difficult to manoeuvre around the house?
  • Are there concerns about loneliness and isolation?


If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you will probably want to consider finding an assisted living community near you.


Whether you think independent living is for you or assisted living is your best bet, it is a good idea to tour the community before making a final decision. This will give you the opportunity to ask questions and verify the exact services available.


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