As you age and become increasingly dependent on others, you start looking for a senior housing solution. However, when it comes to supportive living for seniors, you are likely to come across a wide array of options, making it difficult to choose the right one. Fortunately, it boils down to two basic types of senior living options, including independent living and assisted living. Though both senior living facilities offer quality accommodation and social amenities, they are significantly different.

Your choice is mostly governed by how well you can handle your daily routine without additional assistance. If you need assistance with daily activities such as preparing meals, personal hygiene, and driving, assisted living is probably the right option for you. However, if you can still drive your Mustang, but want to move closer to your daughter who lives in Albuquerque, a quick search for “independent living Albuquerque” can reveal the right choices for you in that vicinity. In other words, making the right choice is going to be a lot easier if you know the key differences between independent and assisted living.

Keep the following differences in mind when planning for the future.

1. Accommodation

When it comes to independent living, the residents usually live in private apartments. Some independent living communities also offer a full-service kitchen as a part of the accommodation. However, you don’t have to bear the responsibilities of a homeowner such as mowing lawns or shoveling snow. This is a win-win solution for senior citizens who can carry out their daily routine without any extra assistance, but can’t maintain a whole house on their own.

Most assisted living facilities, on the other hand, offer single room accommodations for residents, particularly if the resident is suffering from a chronic medical condition. However, some may also offer larger apartments with a separate bathroom, and kitchen.

2. Medical Assistance

Usually, there is no dedicated full-time medical staff in independent living communities as most residents don’t require serious medical attention regularly. However, they do offer the services of doctors, nurses, and physical therapists as and when required or during business hours on weekdays.

Assisted living facilities can offer better access to medical aid as they have round-the-clock on-site medical staff, including either Registered Nurses (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN). Usually, the medical staff is well-trained to maintain the care plan tailored to each resident’s requirements as most residents in such facilities suffer from serious medical conditions. The staff is also qualified to fill out daily prescriptions, maintain personal hygiene, and diet according to your medical condition.

3. Safety

Though both types of facilities offer competent safety measures, assisted living can offer better safety and emergency response as they have qualified medical staff on duty 24 hours a day. When it comes to senior citizens, most safety concerns are related to slip and fall. However, independent living facilities rarely witness such issues as most residents are relatively fit. Still, pull cords or pendant alarm systems are found in independent living communities to ensure the safety of the residents.

Assisted living facilities can take the safety measures to a whole new level with the help of qualified caregivers and nurses who are present round the clock. In addition to this, assisted living facilities also use fall alarms and remote monitoring systems to increase the safety of their residents.

4. Food and Dining

More often than not, independent living communities have an in-house dining facility. Some of them may even offer restaurant style food prepared by gourmet chefs. However, you may have to pay extra for high-end dining services. That’s why most institutions offer different meal plans for residents. You can choose the one that suits your requirements. Residents can also cook their own meals or prepare snacks if they have a full-service kitchen.

Most residents in assisted living need a special diet to support and complement their medical condition. So, most communities offer a comprehensive meal plan specifically designed for each resident’s requirements. Usually, the meals are prepared under the observation of a nutritionist and a trained chef.

5. Social Activities

Independent living communities are specially designed to provide better social opportunities to senior citizens. So, they have common areas where residents can mingle and participate in various activities. The monthly calendars are usually full of recreational events. They may also offer complimentary transportation for weekly or monthly outings.

However, assisted living communities may not provide as many social activities as independent living facilities simply because most residents in such institutions are physically inactive. Still, you can enjoy a walk in the garden with the help of a caregiver or any other activity if your health permits.

6. Cost

The costs for both types of senior living options may vary, however, assisted living is costlier compared to independent living. In the case of the independent living, monthly charges may include, but are not limited to, boarding, dining, housekeeping, group activities, and outings among other things. Some of these institutions may also offer complimentary transportation for outings.

As mentioned earlier, you may have to pay extra for a few services such as gourmet food, clothing, and special medical services. As it happens, the cost of independent living is compatible with home ownership, which carries steep maintenance and repair costs.

When it comes to assisted living, your monthly payment will cover basic lodging and boarding services along with general care-giving support. However, you may have to pay extra charges for special care such as Alzheimer’s.


Given the wide range of senior living options, it is understandable how daunting the process of finding the right one for your loved ones can be. Independent living and assisted living are the two basic types of senior living options out there. These communities may vary in structure, amenities, services, and costs. You will be able to make a well-informed decision if you know the key differences between independent and assisted living communities.