How to Decide Between Independent and Assisted Living

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Sometimes the search for senior living can leave an older adult and their family members questioning what type of community they really need. Is an independent living community, offering a wide variety of life enrichment programs and freedom from household chores, the best fit? Or does a family member need the added support and care provided by an assisted living community?

While some senior living communities, including Five Star, offer both types of senior housing on one campus, it’s still important to understand the similarities and differences between them.

Independent Living Versus Assisted Living

These two popular types of senior living are thoughtfully designed. Both options should have features that promote an engaging and safe lifestyle They also offer services and amenities that meet the unique needs of seniors at different stages of life.

Understanding independent living communities

Independent living communities are often a good fit for seniors seeking freedom from the burdens of homeownership. Because housekeeping tasks and maintenance chores such as lawn care, appliance repair, trash removal, and snow removal are handled by staff, residents have more time to fully enjoy their retirement.

An independent living community nurtures an older adult’s interests and hobbies. These often include hosting travel groups, life-enrichment activities, continuing education classes, and wellness programs. Many independent living residents spend time volunteering in the community or for area nonprofit organizations.

Some of our Five Star Independent Living communities offer additional concierge services that allow the resident to age in place in their apartment.

Here are some other reasons to choose an independent living community for yourself or a senior loved one:

  • Group outings: Independent living communities typically offer group outings to popular local and regional attractions, such as zoos, shopping malls, art museums, and restaurants
  • Wellness: Staying active and engaged is easier for residents to achieve due to the variety of physical activities available each day. These can include walking groups, yoga, Zumba, weight training, stretching classes, and working out in an on-site fitness center.
  • Friendships: Seniors often grow their circle of friends at an independent living community. Older adults have the opportunity to meet new people and build new social networks at both formal and informal gatherings.
  • Life enrichment: Attending on-campus life enrichment activities is a leading reason why older adults move to independent living. From arts and crafts to religious services, current-event discussions, card clubs, and movie nights, there are programs to meet every interest.
  • Transportation: While this benefit can vary, most independent living communities have either on-site transportation available or staff can help coordinate transportation needs.

Get to know assisted living communities

In addition to all of the benefits outlined above, an assisted living community provides residents with the care and support they need to live their most independent life. By lending a hand with activities of daily living (e.g., grooming, bathing, and medication management), an assisted living community helps to protect each resident’s health and safety.

It’s also important to understand that an assisted living community isn’t the same as a nursing home. Where assisted living residents require help with personal care and daily tasks, those in a nursing home usually have more complex medical needs. This generally means nursing home residents require skilled care delivered by nurses, physical therapists, and other medical professionals.

Here are some of the services generally found in assisted living communities:

  • Support with personal care needs, such as bathing, grooming, and dressing
  • Medication coordination and supervision
  • Nutritious meals and healthy snacks which includes the ability to accommodate special diets like low-salt, gluten-free, and diabetic.
  • Help with toileting and continence care
  • Housekeeping, laundry, trash removal, and maintenance

Memory Care is another type of Assisted Living. This option is distinguished by a secure environment. Likewise, there should be special training for caregivers and special programs for residents. At Five Star Senior Living, our Bridge to Rediscovery Memory Care neighborhoods offer our award-winning lifestyle based on the Montessori philosophy.

At Five Star Senior Living we believe that a community should be not just a place to live – it should be a place to thrive. Our residents enjoy our Lifestyle 360 life engagement program which brings life into perfect harmony by focusing on the Five Dimensions of Wellness: intellectual, physical, social, emotional, and spiritual.

We know too that food and the enjoyment of food are vital for our residents' happiness and satisfaction. Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Memory Care should offer a dining program that is both nutritious and delicious.

Learn More About Senior Living Options

If you’d like to learn more, we encourage you to visit Senior Living Options. You’ll find additional information and resources to help determine what type of senior living may be best for you or your loved one.