It can be a difficult decision for you and your loved ones to decide it’s time for independent living or assisted living care. Some seniors may choose independent living themselves, saying that they don’t want to have to worry about home or lawn care or want to be around others their own age, especially if they live alone. In other cases, it may be a more difficult discussion and decision, as many seniors are not willing to give up their homes and properties and see it as a loss of independence and self-worth. Feelings can be complicated, but there are many great reasons for you and your loved ones to look at independent living or assisted living options. It doesn’t have to mean the end of the routines they love or feeling like a total invalid — indeed, many independent living and senior homes focus on activities and tasks to keep seniors feeling like contributing members of society.
What’s the Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living?
Independent living is a type of housing arrangements that’s designed for those who are 55 years of age and older. It can be anything from apartments to homes, but arranged so it’s easier for older adults to manage. The space is often smaller, with no upkeep or yard work to manage.
Assisted living has a bit more dependence on the staff and senior living facilities and is more hands-on, providing medical care, housekeeping, and all prepared meals. Assisted living focuses on all aspects of personal care (even bathing and dressing), provides transportation, and the residents depend more heavily on the staff.
What’s the Benefit of Engaging in Independent Living?
Although residents live in their own space and are mostly independent, independent living also offers a community. There are shared amenities, activities, and services that the residents are welcome to partake in. Recreational centers and community activities are ways for residents to connect with others their age and stay engaged and active, through education classes, movie nights, arts and crafts sessions, and far more. Residents can engage in a beloved hobby or activity and meet new people.
Additionally, there may also be exercise centers included, like swimming, fitness centers, etc., and personal care services like salons, meals, spas, and laundry services are also offered if the resident wants them. The resident can essentially go about their daily routine, but with the weight of daily housekeeping and yard maintenance lifted off their shoulders. Independent living also prevents the residents from feeling too isolated — there’s a whole community at their fingertips, should they want the company.
When Might Someone Want to Take a Look at Assisted Living Services?
If you or your loved one needs more hands-on medical care or is suffering from early dementia, it might be a better idea to look at assisted living. They offer round-the-clock care and are more engaged with the residents. However, it’s great for adults who still can live mostly independently, and just need a little extra care. They can look at apartments or one to two bedroom homes within the community. Like with independent living, there are plenty of amenities available for assisted living residents, with the added benefit of having 24/7 supervision or medical care and access to medical care as needed.
How Do I Choose The Best Fit For Myself or a Loved One?
Conversations are a key part of this process — you want to talk it over with family members, since cost can be a deciding factor, as well as independence levels, and what your family members feel most comfortable with. Once deciding upon a budget and level of care, you’ll want to start visiting various residencies, seeing where you feel the most comfortable and what amenities they offer. Talking to staff and residents is always a good idea! It is also worth checking to see what kind of medicare or insurance the home allows.
Although it can often be a fraught conversation, it’s one worth having, especially if you or your loved ones feel that day-to-day maintenance of house and yard is overwhelming, that you feel isolated from family and friends, or that you don’t have easy access to transportation.