What Is the Difference Between Independent and Assisted Living Communities?

Sunrise Senior Living  |  February 5, 2021
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Often times the search for a senior living community can leave older adults and their families confused about what they really want and need. An independent living community, where the focus is on social activities and a hassle-free lifestyle, may be the ideal choice for an active senior. But a senior who needs a helping hand with daily activities, such as bathing or medication management, might find an assisted living community best meets their needs.

If you are trying to better understand each of these options, this overview will be helpful. While both types of senior housing offer older adults an environment that supports quality of life, they are designed to meet different needs.

What Is Assisted Living?

An assisted living community combines independence with support when and where it is needed. For those who need it, help is offered with activities of daily living or ADLs. These tasks include bathing, dressing, grooming, and medication management. Assisted living communities also provide social engagement opportunities so that older adults can live their best quality of life.

It’s important to understand that an assisted living community is different from a nursing home. People often confuse these types of senior living. Residents in a nursing home usually have complex medical needs that require daily care by nurses and other medical professionals. Those in assisted living communities need assistance but to a lesser degree.

Here are some of the supportive services offered by assisted living communities:

  • Providing personal care assistance, such as bathing, grooming, and dressing
  • Monitoring chronic health conditions and managing medications
  • Offering 3 healthy meals plus snacks every day with an ability to accommodate special diets
  • Toileting help (transferring to and from the toilet) and continence care
  • Transportation options for getting to and from appointments or errands
  • Opportunity to participate in social activities and wellness programs

What Is Independent Living?

In contrast to an assisted living community, independent living communities are designed with active seniors in mind. They give older adults freedom from the burdens of home ownership. Because household tasks and maintenance duties are handled by staff, residents have more time to spend pursuing activities they find enjoyable.

Residents can participate in life-enrichment activities, take continuing education classes, volunteer for a favorite charitable organization, and engage in wellness programs. Most are offered on-site at the community.

Here are some other advantages of moving to an independent living community:

  • Chance to participate in outings to local and regional attractions, like art museums, theaters, shopping centers, and restaurants
  • Availability of on-campus wellness activities, such as stretching, chair yoga, swimming, aerobics classes, and walking programs
  • Opportunity to build new friendships with neighbors who share similar interests
  • Variety of social activities ranging from art classes and religious services to craft clubs, gardening, and more

Schedule a Virtual Tour at Sunrise

If you would like to learn more about either of these types of senior living communities, we invite you to call us to schedule a virtual tour. You’ll have an opportunity to look around and have all of your questions answered from the safety and privacy of your own living room. Call 1-888-434-4648 to set up a time today!