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Independent Living Vs. Assisted Living: What’s The Difference?

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When considering senior living for a loved one, it’s important to know that not every community is the same. Independent living and assisted living are designed to promote the independence and well-being of their residents. Still, they have key differences that can make one a more optimal choice over the other. But what exactly are the differences between independent and assisted living?

While both options provide a safe and supportive environment, independent living is designed for seniors who can be self-sufficient without outside help, while assisted living is designed for those who want to remain independent but need a hand with some of their daily activities, like cleaning, cooking, bathing, or medication management.

What Is Independent Living?

Independent living is a level of care designed for seniors who can live independently without the help of others. These communities offer a social and supportive environment for those who want to keep their autonomy but lessen the burden of maintaining their own homes.

Typically, residents live in a private apartment, townhouse, or condo, where they can get freedom and privacy. The communities often sponsor programs, events, and groups for residents to meet others in the community and build a connection with those around them.

Independent living is an ideal choice for seniors who don’t need much, if any, medical assistance but want to be surrounded by others their age and have someone else take care of tedious chores and responsibilities.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living caters primarily to seniors who need a higher level of support. While residents are still very much independent, they also have access to a trained and caring team of professionals who can help them with their daily needs, like:

  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Medication
  • Appointments

Assisted living allows seniors to maintain their independence while receiving the exact care they need. These communities also offer engaging programs, events, and amenities, like:

  • Local events and groups
  • Classes where residents can learn new skills or hobbies
  • Religious services or groups
  • Access to nature, gardens, or outdoor spaces
  • Planned meals and dining areas
  • Trips and transportation to nearby towns or shops

The community works closely with each resident’s family and healthcare professionals to custom-design a plan that suits their needs to help give both residents and their families peace of mind.

What’s the Difference Between Independent & Assisted Living?

While there are many similarities between these 2, there are some key differences to know when considering moving a loved one to senior living.

Daily Services & Assistance

Independent living focuses on providing a maintenance-free lifestyle so residents have the space and time to fully enjoy their life, fostering a sense of community while allowing residents their privacy.

However, assisted living places a stronger focus on care and supporting residents’ daily needs. Caregivers are available to help with everyday tasks so each resident gets the support they need to maintain their dignity.

Medical Care & Aid

In independent living, medical care is available but isn’t provided directly since residents are typically capable of managing their healthcare and medication. However, these communities provide emergency response systems so residents can get immediate assistance.

Meanwhile, assisted living communities typically have healthcare professionals available around the clock, allowing residents access to on-site medical care and health monitoring. From administering medication and performing health checkups to coordinating with local healthcare providers and hospitals, assisted living focuses strongly on the health of every resident.


Typically, independent living is more affordable than assisted living because it requires less specialized services. While residents pay a monthly fee for things like maintenance, groups, and amenities, the cost is usually lower than other forms of senior living. These communities may offer an option for residents to pay additional fees for extra services.

Assisted living tends to cost more as residents receive more advanced care. These fees help cover the cost of additional training for the staff, medical technology, and the additional hours healthcare professionals stay on site. 

A senior man with a cane smiles and laughs while sitting outside with a nurse and other seniors.

Senior Living in Arden Hills

Assisted living and independent living have many similarities but have fundamental differences. Always consider the needs and wants of your loved one when determining the level of care they’ll most benefit from. 

If they want to downsize from their home and move to a community of like-minded individuals while retaining their autonomy, independent living may be the way to go. On the other hand, assisted living is often the better choice if they need some medical assistance in their day-to-day life. Of course, our highly trained staff can do an assessment and give their professional opinion. 

At Round Lake Senior Living, we know that the choice to move a loved one to senior living can be complicated, so we’re here to make this as easy as possible. Contact us if you have any questions about assisted or independent living, or schedule a tour today!

Written by Lifespark

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