For retirees considering senior living options, remaining independent is one of the main concerns. Staying in your longtime house is comfortable and familiar, so it often feels like the ideal scenario. But it can be isolating, and it requires regular maintenance and endless chores. Health issues can make all those household responsibilities more difficult.
Moving into a retirement community, though it may seem like a daunting or restricting change, can actually allow retirees to take advantage of a newfound freedom — even those who need some assistance with daily living routines. But which type of senior community fits your needs?
Let’s look at the differences between assisted living and independent living communities.
Assisted living is a good option for seniors who need help with some daily tasks and want a socially fulfilling and active lifestyle.
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Assisted living communities typically provide:
Keep in mind that assisted living communities usually have health standards for admitting new residents. For example, those who require 24-hour medical care may need a different type of senior living arrangement, such as a nursing home.
An assisted living community may be the right decision for seniors who:
The median monthly cost of assisted living was $4,051 a month in the United States in 2019, according to Genworth’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey.
Assisted living costs depend on many factors, including:
Often, assisted living communities charge residents a flat rate covering basic services, with additional fees for special services.
Independent living communities — often called retirement communities — are for seniors who can live on their own, without any daily assistance, and want to live among people their age.
While sometimes there may be overlap between independent living and assisted living communities in terms of minor care services offered, independent living usually means that residents are self-sufficient and don’t need hands-on care.
Think of an independent living community as an age-restricted (typically 55+) community, often with organized activities, meal services, and transportation.
Independent living offers:
You might hear people refer to independent living in other ways, including:
“Senior apartments” are another type of independent living. They’re for residents 55+ and offer similar amenities to a typical apartment complex.
An independent living community may be the right decision for retirees who:
As with assisted living, the cost of independent living depends largely on location and amenities.
The median monthly cost for independent living in 2018 was $2,552, according to A Place for Mom’s Senior Cost of Living Index.
It’s important to ask each community about their individual costs and services, as they vary by community. For example, concierge and guest services may be included at some communities for an additional cost.
Finding the right senior living option means matching your loved one’s budget, needs, and preferences with a community in their desired area. At no cost to you, our Senior Living Advisors can help you discover senior living options that are a fit for your family.
Danny Szlauderbach is an editor and content writer at A Place for Mom. Since 2010, his work in strategic communications has spanned across several industries, including education, technology, and financial services. He’s a member of ACES: The Society for Editing and a graduate of the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Kansas.