Difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living

December 9, 2016 by Editorial Team

Deciding between an independent living or an assisted living facility for an elderly loved one is a very difficult decision to make. As people age, they are able to do less and less normal and necessary activities, up to the point where they are fully dependent on those around. This means that knowing what type of care an elderly person needs is important. Thinking ahead and choosing an assisted living facility just because an elderly person is going to need those services sooner or later is not a great idea. Doing this could rob them of their final moments of doing daily tasks on their own. Therefore, the choice between an independent or assisted living facility needs to be made wisely.

Definitions

Independent Living vs Assisted Living

An independent living facility allows its residents to keep an active way of life. These facilities create a community and make activities very accessible. This type of service is for people who need only minor assistance on a daily basis. While they can live alone or with spouses in the units provided (houses, flats or rooms), they no longer have the burden of house maintenance and repairs or garden work. Some facilities offer fully equipped kitchens where residents can cook their meals. There are restaurants and entertainment centers in the vicinity and they can spend their time in the company of their peers. Depending on the unit, there may also be activities planned for the residents.

An assisted living facility is a place for those who need much more assistance with their daily activities. These are people who are either very old or suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes or dementia. Anything that renders a person incapable of taking care of oneself qualifies them for assisted living. There is medical personnel on staff and people who can handle medication and make sure that they are taken and on time. The staff can handle doctor’s appointments and they make sure that the residents respect these appointments.

Some people may need bathing, feeding or even transportation and these are provided in an assisted living facility. As well as having their daily necessities met, residents are kept safe from harm. For example, people with cognitive impairment and memory loss do not have access to appliances they could leave open.

Independent Living vs Assisted Living

So what is the difference between independent living and assisted living?

An independent living facility is for people who can still perform many daily tasks by themselves. There is a level of assistance offered, but it is at a minimum. People in these facilities can live alone, cook for themselves, move around, drive and keep their own schedule. However, they live in a community that makes socializing accessible, takes away the burden of home ownership and offers a minimum level of control to keep the family at ease.

By comparison, assisted living implies a higher level of involvement from the staff in activities such as eating, bathing, transportation, drug management and medical schedule. These facilities must have medical staff on call 24/7. These residents need more support and assistance from the personnel – support they cannot get at home from their families.

As far as price goes, independent living facilities are cheaper because they involve less assistance and a limited number of services. Assisted living facilities are more expensive because of the high volume of work for the personnel.

Comparison Chart

Independent LivingAssisted Living
For elderly people who still manage to live on their ownFor elderly people who can no longer perform regular daily tasks or who are suffering from diseases like dementia, Alzheimer’s, diabetes
Provides minimum assistanceProvides moderate to maximum assistance
Built like a community with food and entertainment facilities for the residents, along with some extra servicesA facility for people who need constant surveillance and help
More affordableMore expensive