Understanding the Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living

If you’re just beginning your search for a senior living community, you’ve likely come across unfamiliar senior living jargon, which may include the various levels of care you can opt for at a community. Two levels of care many senior living communities offer are independent living and assisted living. If you’re unsure about the difference between independent living and assisted living, this post will describe both and help you get a better idea of which one is right for you or your senior parent.

a senior couple laughs together outside

What is independent living?

In a senior living community with an independent living neighborhood, you live your life with all the freedom you currently have. The only difference is that now, you live in a maintenance-free apartment residence in a neighborhood with other seniors, and you all have access to myriad services and amenities, dining options, activities, and other attractions unique to your community.

Plus, senior living communities often have a health center on-site; as your care needs change, you have priority access to higher levels of care – either temporarily or permanently.

a young man washes dishes for a senior woman

What is assisted living?

Assisted living is a senior living option ideal for older adults who could benefit from assistance with ADLs, or Activities of Daily Living. ADLs include bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, and more. Depending on your specific situation, caregivers provide specialized care to help you optimize your ability to live life to the fullest. Assisted living encourages you to be as independent as possible, knowing that qualified caregivers are there to provide assistance whenever you need it. It’s the next level of care above independent living. In a senior living community that offers assisted living, you typically have your own apartment and have a caregiver visit as needed. Some assisted living apartments have kitchenettes and space for a washer and dryer, while others have only shared dining spaces and community laundry rooms.

four seniors have coffee and snacks as they sit in the living room

Independent Living vs Assisted Living: The Key Difference

Residents in both levels of care enjoy the same perks of living at a senior living community, which may include things like state-of-the-art fitness centers, five-star dining, and social events. But the difference between independent living and assisted living is that assisted living residents get just a little more help. To determine which is best for you or your senior parent, consider the senior’s current lifestyle. If they’re perfectly fine living as they are now, but would like the social benefits, wellness-focused lifestyle, and access to senior care a senior living community provides, perhaps independent living is the right option for them.

If living alone is getting harder for them (the house is falling into disarray, dressing is a daily challenge, the refrigerator is empty), choosing assisted living might restore a relaxed, happier, worry-free lifestyle. The choice should be the senior’s, supported by their family and doctor.

Lexington Square offers top-of-the-line independent living in both our Lombard and Elmhurst locations, as well as assisted living. In fact, the Daily Herald named us one of the Top 10 Best Assisted Living Communities in Chicago. Learn about our communities and start planning for your future at Lexington Square.

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