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.
Independent living and assisted living communities cater to residents’ unique needs in different ways. Learn about some of the key differences, and discover which community may fit your lifestyle best.
Our advisors help 300,000 families each year find the right senior care for their loved ones.
Assisted living is a good option for seniors who need help with some daily tasks and want a socially fulfilling and active lifestyle.
Assisted living communities 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.
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+) apartment complex, often with organized activities, meal services, and transportation.
Independent living offers:
An assisted living community may be the right decision for seniors who:
An independent living community may be the right decision for retirees who:
The median monthly cost of assisted living was $4,300 in the United States in 2020, according to Genworth’s 2020 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. As with assisted living, the cost of independent living depends largely on location and amenities, and it’s not uncommon for costs to fluctuate annually or monthly.
The average cost of independent living at Holiday Retirement, a senior living community with over 260 communities in the U.S., was $2,491 from February 2020 to February 2021. It’s important to ask each community about their individual costs and services, as they vary by community and location. For example, concierge and guest services may be included at some communities for an additional cost.
You might hear people refer to independent living in other ways, including:
“Senior apartments” are another type of independent living, but those usually offer even fewer services, if any, compared to most independent living communities.
Sometimes people use similar terms to refer to the various types of senior living, which can be confusing. The terms “assistance,” “assisted,” or “facility” are a good indication that the community offers minor medical assistance but not full-time care like a nursing home does.
These are some other ways people refer to assisted living communities:
Senior living options have evolved as the needs and expectations of older adults have changed over the last few decades. Understanding the difference between assisted living and independent living is essential to keeping them healthy, active, and safe. At no cost, our Senior Living Advisors can help you navigate all of the senior living options as you find the best fit for your family.