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Independent vs. Assisted Living: What to Know and How to Decide

Growing old isn’t as burdensome as one presumes; as long as it’s done right. The dilemma majority of the seniors face is in deciding whether to live independently or to reach out for assistance. This dilemma becomes all the more agonizing if one suffers from any form of illness or disability. Thus preventing them from leading a happy, fulfilling life. Although senior living communities have become the most feasible and cost-effective option. Their deteriorating physical condition and financial stability usually takes a toll. This is where the concept of assisted and independent living comes into picture.

Assisted living is meant for adults who are physically and cognitively unable to live on their own. With the help of assisted living arrangements, they receive their very own living space with zero dependency. Besides, access to emergency medical personnel is available 24-hours a day; where the medical staff is at their disposal for basic tasks that range from bathing to bathroom use, regular visits to the doctor for check-up’s, along with access to scheduled medications.

Independent living, on the other hand, is different from assisted living. This facility is meant for senior adults who do not require constant medical attention or a 24-hour assistance to get through the day. These communities also offer fun activities for seniors, have regular day trips, organize various social activities, and are also provided with off-campus transportation facilities.

Now that we’ve established the basic difference between the two, here’s a quick guide to help you decide which facility suits your needs the most:

Daily Errands and Services:

If you are in need of services such as shopping, meal preparation, cleaning, remembering medications, bathing, grooming, keeping appointments with the doctor, and so on, assisted living is the most suitable option for you. With a simple push of a button, you can avail these services 24*7. Since independent living focuses more on an active lifestyle, access to medical care and support is minimal. A senior can order his/her own meals and eat in leisure at an on-campus cafe. However, the facility of a cook for a nutritious meal isn’t provided.

Medical and Supportive Care:

If you perform all the basic activities essential for a daily despite having a medical condition, independent living works perfectly for you. However, if you are no longer able to tend to basic needs on your own. If you lost mobility, or require constant medical supervision, then assisted living is the ideal option. So, before you take a decision, taking a good look at your physical condition is important.

Access to Support Staff:

In the case of independent living, seniors have to sign up for regular contact with staff, meals, or any other service. On the other hand, in an assisted living facility, the staff monitors and checks in on their residents voluntarily and at regular intervals. Although the provision for diagnosing medical conditions isn’t available, keeping in touch with seniors to ensure they are healthy. It is a huge relief in itself. So, assess your dependency on the support staff before you make the final call.


Such communities are a living preference, and thus, do not fall under the category of a senior care. Since assisted living includes more features as compared to independent living in the form of care, long-term insurance, and other employee benefit programs. This facility usually fares out to be the costlier one.

Magnitude of Care Offered:

Seniors choosing assisted living require support. Which is generally why regular check-ins with support staff and extended support like bathing and grooming is provided. This can also include nursing and dementia care. If you are in need of similar support, choose assisted living. Independent living propagates a long and healthy life, without the need for additional care. Hence, choose independent living only if you are physically able and are sure you won’t be needing any kind of care or attention in the immediate future.

Victoria Bryant, is a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) who leads the care team. Dr. Bryant has held numerous leadership positions and has been recognized in such distinctions as Top 30 Influential Women of Houston 2016, Houston Business Journals 40 under 40, Houston Womans Magazine 50 Most Influential Women of 2013, VAN TV Community Leader Award 2015, Texas Executive Women Women On The Move 2015, and others.

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