Two Seniors Laughing and Enjoying Themselve in New Senior Living Apartment

Exploring the Differences Between Independent Living and Assisted Living

According to the US Census Bureau, the growth of the population age 65 and older now exceeds the growth of the total population and that of the population of Americans under age 65. Thankfully, there are many options available to meet the housing needs of seniors. With the broad choices between communities, levels of care and cost point, it is important for seniors and their loved ones to consider all the facts before narrowing down what housing situation will work best.

Assisted Living and Independent Living communities are two of the most popular choices for senior housing. While both options can foster independence, relieve caregiver stress and help seniors to live longer, healthier lives, there are distinct differences that can help guide your decision as you are considering these two options.

What Does Independent Living Mean?

Independent living communities are excellent for seniors who can still live on their own, but who want to have access to assistance when needed. These communities provide residents with a safe environment and generally include services such as meals, laundry and housekeeping.

Assisted living is a slightly different option and serves seniors who need help with daily activities at home. Those who choose assisted living want an independent lifestyle, but also accept regular support with daily activities, such as meal preparation. Assisted living communities are usually maintenance-free for residents and provide a variety of social activities and engagements.

Some communities, like The Atriums Senior Living Community in Overland Park, Kansas, offer both independent living and assisted living. At The Atriums, private apartments or condos are available at varying price points for either living option. Because the community offers both levels of care within the same residence, couples and single seniors with varying needs are all able to find the support they need to live the lifestyle they want.

What Does an Independent Living Facility Provide?

So, if independent living and assisted living are so similar, what are the differences? What does an independent living facility provide that an assisted living facility doesn’t? Here are a few of the basic differences between the two that can help guide your decision on which is right for you:

Independent Living

  • Independent living communities serve older adults who do not require much medical care, so most do not offer medical services.
  • Many independent living communities have multiple buildings spread out across a large campus with common gathering areas for meals and social programs.
  • Family members are encouraged to be very involved with their loved one in independent living, but all primary decisions regarding care or living situations are made by the resident.
  • In independent living communities, seniors have contact with the staff when they sign up for a service, a meal or request assistance. At The Atriums, residents can select their meals from a carefully prepared menu of delicious choices or use the fully equipped kitchen in their apartment to prepare their own food.
  • Most independent living residents pay an entrance fee to move in and an additional monthly fee for maintenance that covers things like meals, programming, security and housekeeping. At The Atriums, there is no large, upfront entry fee and residents enjoy an easy month-to-month lease.

Assisted Living

  • In assisted living communities, residents enjoy regular contact with staff members, for both service and assistance, as well as social opportunities. At The Atriums, residents can choose between social programs including fitness and aerobics, movies, art classes, coffee café trivia, happy hours and beauty salons.
  • Family members with a loved one in assisted living are generally very involved in the care process.
  • Assisted living facilities are often smaller and more contained than independent living communities.
  • In assisted living, team members regularly check in and monitor residents. At The Atriums, residents in assisted living receive individualized care plans, medication management, assistance with dressing, bathing and mobility support, and they have the help of an on-site licensed and certified nursing staff.

Making Choices for the Future

When deciding on a living situation for yourself or a senior loved one, it is best to consider all the options with the future in mind. It could be that independent living is the right choice now, but assisted living may be needed down the road. Scheduling a tour at The Atriums can help answer questions about planning a safe, active, engaging future for you or loved one and also provide insight into what support is available going forward. Contact us today!