When you’re choosing between assisted living vs. independent living for you or a loved one, it can get a little confusing. Each offers a different experience. It also comes with its own set of benefits, requirements and opportunities.

To help you navigate this process, we’ve organized a quick comparison of assisted living vs. independent living to narrow your research. After reviewing the table below, we’ll walk through individual needs, preferences and criteria to consider before making the next step.

Breaking Down the Basics of Assisted Living vs. Independent Living

Research shows that roughly 7 percent of all seniors will require personal care in their lifetime. However, the degree of that care needed can vary drastically. Before we get started, remember that it’s still important to do your research regarding specific assisted and independent living communities in your area—because they may offer very different experiences! 

Assisted Living Independent Living
Who is the best fit for each community? These communities are best for those who need more hands-on assistance in day-to-day activities, personal grooming or routines, while still providing as much independence to residents as possible. These communities are primarily developed to support the social preferences of the residents, who likely do not require consistent care or support. Think of these communities as a seniors-only apartment complex with a few added bonuses such as no maintenance, housekeeping and dining options. 
What kind of costs should I plan on? While each assisted living community cost may vary based on their services or the care required, be prepared to pay a monthly rent fee, extra amenities or services may also be an extra fee. (Some communities are all-inclusive, while others have different pricing structures). Independent living communities may require an entrance fee, accompanied by a regular monthly fee.
**It’s important to note for both living options, while the monthly cost may seem high initially, it typically covers more than just “rent.” Monthly costs may also include bills, utilities, meals and other amenities/services. So take that into account when financially planning!
What kind of activities are offered? Activities include group and individual options. They involve mental, physical and social activities and help improve overall quality of life. Some communities (like Vineyard) allow residents to request activities depending on their preference. Socialization is also a top priority in assisted living. Activities in IL are fairly similar to AL. Activities are focused on socializing and hobbies. One difference could be that activities in an IL community cater to their more active residents. 
Are families able to visit? Yes! Families should plan on being an active member of the team who supports your loved one. You can also visit and participate in some community events.  Yes! Similar to assisted living, families are welcome and actively encouraged to be a part of residents’ daily routines, whether in their personal living spaces or in common areas with other guests.
How do the individual living spaces differ? Spaces are designed to meet the needs of the individual and typically include a bedroom, bathroom and living room area. While there’s likely a kitchen space, some items (like stovetops) may be removed for safety purposes. Some spaces may also come equipped with additional technology to call for instant medical support. Spaces are created to function like a standard apartment, with accessibility to the regular amenities of one’s home. Depending on the needs of the individual(s), spaces can be upgraded with specific furniture.
How do the common areas differ? Common areas are centrally located for easy access to all residents. Common areas are spread out through the complex.
Are meals included? Meals are often included in assisted living spaces to eliminate the hassle or potential hazards of preparing food. Some independent living communities may offer dining or meal-plan services, but the choice is ultimately up to the resident if they prefer to prepare meals on their own or utilize community dining.

How do I pick the right option?

Both assisted living and independent living communities are spaces where seniors can enjoy a renewed quality of life and gain access to the resources, socialization or support they need. If you’re still not sure which option is right for you or your loved one, take some time to re-think the current needs and capabilities of the individual.

Independent living might be a good fit if the future resident:

  • Can live independently without regular medical or supportive assistance (i.e., can get around on their own, currently lives alone without issue, no serious health issues). 
  • Wants to create opportunities for more socialization with other seniors.
  • Enjoys community living spaces and group activities.

Assisted living might be a good fit if the future resident:

  • Needs assistance to help coordinate specialized care (i.e., doctors or therapy appointments)
  • Enjoys socialization and activities with other seniors.
  • Needs help with daily activities like grooming, cooking or cleaning.

Who can help me make this decision?

You don’t have to make this choice alone. There are experts you can speak to you about the benefits of each space and determine which is best for your individual situation. This can include medical professionals, cognitive experts and the community staff. 

Remember when deciding between assisted living vs. independent living, leverage day-tours and community visits. Spending time at each community, meeting the staff and experiencing how current residents live in the spaces will be immensely helpful. This process will help you make an overall informed decision and find the best choice for you or your loved one.

Please give your nearest Vineyard community a call should you have any further questions!