Are you or a loved one considering senior living options? Although the decision can be tough for everyone involved, it's important to understand the difference between assisted living and independent living. To help you and your family make an informed decision about which senior living community is best for you, we'll break down the key differences between both of these types of senior living options.
What Is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Independent Living?
Assisted living communities are for older adults who still wish to maintain their independence but need assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs). Assisted living communities have staff that's available around the clock on a daily basis. Caregivers help residents with bathing, medication, using the bathroom, dressing, grooming, housekeeping, laundry, meals, and transportation. The level of support will be determined through a health assessment.
Independent living is for seniors who are still able to care for themselves but want to live independently without having to worry about housekeeping, mowing the lawn, shoveling snow from the walkway, laundry, and cooking (if they don't feel up to it).
Although residents in assisted living receive help with their activities of daily living, both types of senior living communities offer seniors their own home space, usually an apartment. They also enjoy the benefits of socializing with others their age, participating in social events and outings, and indulging in delicious meals that are healthy.
Differences in Community Life Between Assisted Living and Independent Living
In assisted living, community life tends to have a more supportive community environment. The staff, residents, and families work closely together to create a care plan with the right amount of support. Activities and events are more tailored to the needs and abilities of residents, and there may be more opportunities for one-on-one interactions with staff.
As for independent living communities, they're more socially active, with better opportunities for residents to engage in group activities, events, and outings. Some independent living communities also provide fitness centers, spas, swimming pools, game rooms, libraries, beauty and barber salons, and movie theaters for residents to enjoy at their own leisure.
Differences in Amenities
Amenities in assisted living communities are designed to provide residents with more extensive assistance and support. These comforts may include:
- Assistance with ADLs such as bathing, showering, personal hygiene, eating, mobility, getting dressed, psycho-social programs, and medication management.
- 24-hour staffing to ensure residents' safety and well-being.
- Housekeeping and laundry services.
- Meal service with dietary accommodations for residents with specific needs.
- Transportation services for appointments and outings.
- Social and recreational activities tailored to residents' abilities and interests.
- On-site healthcare services and access to medical professionals.
Whereas, independent living communities are for seniors who can live on their own and still take care of themselves. These residents appreciate the convenience of on-site services and social activities that usually include:
- Housekeeping and maintenance services.
- Meals, according to residents' dietary needs.
- Transportation to appointments and outings.
- Life enrichment activities.
- Fitness facilities and classes.
- On-site beauty and salon services.
Differences in Family Involvement
Just because your parent will be living in an assisted living community doesn't mean you lose say when it comes to their care. Family involvement is still important, but you may have to coordinate their care with the staff.
Of course, family members can also be involved in decision-making regarding their elderly loved one's care plan. Additionally, the family is able to participate in activities and events with their parent/grandparent.
Finally, some assisted living communities have visiting hours. You can ask about visiting restrictions at each communy that you tour.
Since seniors residing in independent living communities are able to maintain their independence and provide self-care, family, and friends can visit whenever they want. You can even take your loved one shopping, out to eat, to appointments, or wherever. Nothing really changes from the way the resident lived before. The only difference is the independent living community’s staff takes care of yard maintenance, housekeeping, and meals, which gives seniors more time to make new memories with their spouse, adult children, grandchildren, and other family and friends.
Cost of Independent Living vs. Assisted Living
According to Assisted Living Locators, the average monthly cost of independent senior living in the United States is anywhere from $1,500 to $6,000. In the state of Ohio, Senior Homes says independent living is roughly $2,450 a month.
Due to the fact that seniors in assisted living communities require a higher level of care and support, the cost is greater than independent living communities. Based on Genworth's 2023 cost of care survey, the median monthly cost of assisted living in the United States is $4,774, and in Ohio, it's $4,917.
The cost of both types of senior living varies based on factors such as location, size of living space, included services, and the level of care needed. This is why it's important to shop around, ask questions, and compare prices. Doing so ensures you or your family member selects the right senior living community with the services and needed care at an affordable price.
Does Ohio Medicare/Medicaid Cover Assisted Living or Independent Living?
Unfortunately, Medicare doesn't pay for assisted living. However, Ohio seniors eligible for Medicaid should consider the Assisted Living Waiver program. Although assisted living residents must pay for room and board expenses on their own or through another means of financial aid, the waiver does cover maintenance, housekeeping, laundry, meals, medication management, transportation, social activities, and 24-hour on-site response.
Neither Medicare nor Medicaid pays for independent living. Other financial services that may help older adults cover some of the costs associated with independent senior living include:
- Long-term care insurance
- VA benefits
- SSI for seniors
Choosing Between Independent Living and Assisted Living
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to figure out which senior living arrangement is right for you or a loved one. The following information will help make the choice easier.
Independent living is best for older adults who want to live on their own but need some help with basic tasks like cooking, keeping the home tidy, and yard maintenance.
Assisted living is best for elders who need more hands-on support but don't require round-the-clock nursing care like a nursing home offers. In addition to assistance with basic tasks, this senior living option focuses on helping seniors with dressing, personal hygiene, medication, eating, going to the bathroom, and mobility.
Senior Living in the Danbury Senior Living Community
Regardless of which level of care is right for you or a family member, Danbury Senior Living residents live a worry-free lifestyle without losing the independence you crave.
Danbury seniors enjoy resort-style luxuries such as chef-prepared meals, on-site and off-site activities, fine dining in the community dining room that stays open all day, access to a fitness room, spa, and more.
As an independent living community, we offer all the amenities you need for a comfortable life with none of the additional stressors. And as you age, Danbury offers the services you need to stay, taking full advantage of assisted living benefits. This means that should you need extra services, you won't be uprooted from your home.