As the adult child of aging parents who live in an independent living community, I had to learn that there are very distinct differences between independent living and assisted living communities. In fact, just this morning, my dad quickly corrected me, when I referred to the place where he and my mom live as an “assisted living community.” He hastily quipped, “we live in a retirement community, NOT assisted living. There is a big difference.”
Unless you are one who actually lives in an independent living community, you might use the terms interchangeably but, rest assured, they are different — very different. To avoid any corrections from one of your parents (especially if you are considering moving them to one), here are the primary differences between independent living and assisted living communities.
The term “assisted living” explains it all – this type of community is one where residents need assistance with their daily routines. Most residents have a health condition that significantly limits their abilities to function on their own in their day to day lives causing them to require help from qualified professionals for anything from hygiene to taking daily prescription medications to even getting around.
It is common for a married couple to live in an assisted living community when one of them has a chronic health condition and the other is unable to assist them on a level they need. Additionally, accommodations range from a smaller bedroom style unit to larger apartments with a separate living area and bedroom (some with kitchen areas as well).
In terms of amenities, assisted living communities have an entire staff devoted to caring for those who live there. They provide housekeeping, laundry, meals and most anything that a resident cannot do independently. On top of all that, there are activities and outings in which the residents may participate if they choose or are able.
With assisted living, there may be additional costs incurred along with monthly rent that cover the services needed for any added caregiving support. Because people move to assisted living when they can no longer care for themselves, there are options to offset the cost including VA benefits, some Medicare (although limited), and other possibilities.
It is important to note that assisted living communities do not provide the level of care for those with severe dementia or Alzheimer’s but may have a separate section devoted to that level of care.
Independent living communities are very similar to apartment communities. The key word is “independent.” Life is simply easier for residents to enjoy without the responsibilities of being a homeowner and in a safer environment where assistance is available when needed.
Residents live in apartment style units that feature living areas, one or more bedrooms, and kitchen areas of various sizes. Residents can enjoy common areas where they gather or participate in activities.
There are many more amenities for residents of independent living communities including housekeeping, group activities and outings, and much more. Dining facilities are typically a mainstay with independent living communities offering restaurant style dining options with chef-prepared meals. While there is no dedicated full-time medical staff, they may offer physical therapists on an as-needed basis or part-time to help residents when necessary. Some communities take the amenities to another level by including movie theatres, small grocery stores, and even hair salons.
With independent living facilities, the cost is one that is incurred by the residents who typically use retirement, Social Security income, and other pools of money to cover the expense involved. But when you compare the expenses that come along with home ownership, the cost is often quite comparable.
It is understandable how those who are unfamiliar with each type of senior living community can get them mixed up, but they are two entirely different categories. If your aging parents are considering moving to an independent living community, be sure to know the difference — read them, learn them, and know them – because you will definitely be corrected if you inadvertently use the wrong name.
Learn about Aston Gardens At The Courtyards! Our state-of-the-art senior living community in Sun City Center, Florida offers sensational dining, senior activities, health and wellness classes, and multiple levels of care from independent living, to assisted living and memory care. Learn more by contacting us online or calling 813.633.2378 today!