Senior Living Resources Lutheran Senior Services
Independent Living? Assisted Living? What’s the Difference?

Independent Living? Assisted Living? What’s the Difference?

Whether you are considering senior living for yourself or a loved one, it’s important to be familiar with the terminology especially when it comes to the levels of independent living versus assisted living. Independent living and assisted living are two levels of living built specifically for seniors with assisted living providing staff to help with the activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and toileting. But that’s just the beginning of describing these levels.

To start, independent living does not provide medical oversight. Whereas, assisted living has staff to assist residents with the activities of daily living and medication administration. Both levels of living provide a community setting, more opportunities for socialization, and events, programs, and more to keep residents’ minds and bodies active and engaged.


Independent Living

Independent living is exactly that. Residents live on their own in their home as part of the senior living community. When Independent Living is part of a Life Plan Community, many amenities are available for residents. Independent Living residences are located on a campus with onsite amenities such as movie theatre, salon, pool, exercise rooms, dining venues, and much more. Some communities have onsite health clinics available for residents. Chores such as housekeeping and yardwork are taken care of, freeing up time to take advantage of the amenities available in the community.

Independent living residents have access to all the activities, classes, programs, trips, and more available in a community setting. Plus, the social aspect of living in a community setting can benefit seniors who sometimes might become isolated in later years. Older adults considering senior living should think seriously about moving to a community while they are able to take advantage of all the amenities and activities offered.

There is no medical oversight in independent living. If residents move into a Life Plan Community, they will have access to the other levels of living offered at that community. This gives older adults and their families a future plan knowing that care is there if needed. In addition, older adults can stay in the community where they are familiar with staff, the community itself, and their fellow residents. A Life Plan Community offers all levels of living: Independent living, assisted living, memory care assisted living, long term care, and rehabilitation.

There are many reasons older adults decide to move to independent living. Often it is to downsize and remove the burdens of homeownership from their lives. Some independent living residents want to make the decision about their future for themselves and relieve their families from having to make a hard decision if their health needs change. And independent living residents are usually drawn to having so much available to them so close to home!


Assisted Living

Assisted living provides extra assistance balanced with independence. Assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and toileting, is available to residents who live in assisted living. Staff is available 24-hours a day to help residents. In addition to personal care assistance and medication administration, communities provide many opportunities in assisted living – and other levels of living as well – for residents to be active and continue to be engaged, contributing members of the community.

Memory care assisted living is a specific setting for older adults who have early to mid-stage Alzheimer’s disease or other memory impairments. In memory care assisted living, programming is specially created for these residents to keep them active and engaged.

Older adults interested in a Life Plan Community can move directly into any level of living. A resident can move into assisted living and still be able to take advantage of the community’s amenities while having more care available if it is needed.

Moving to assisted living, whether from independent living or into the community for the first time, is a life-changing transition for the resident and for their family. There are ways to make this change easier such as asking questions, sharing information, and keeping open communication with staff. The community’s staff is there to help residents and their families during all points of care. They have helped many people through transitions into different living settings so are experts who can be relied on for help.


The Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living

While there are differences between these two levels of living, all residents benefit from the social aspect of living in a community. In many senior living communities, staff and residents become a tight-knit group as they get to know one another.

If you are unsure of which level of living would best suit you or your loved one, you can talk with an LSS Senior Living Counselor. They will be able to provide advice on what should be considered. A primary care physician can also provide an assessment of whether independent living or assisted living would best benefit someone.

Back ToTop