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What Is the Difference Between Assisted Living & Independent Living?

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A senior woman sits at a table, holding cards next to a cup of tea and smiling. In the background, fellow seniors engage in conversation while a nurse helps out.

As our loved ones age, there may come a time when we’re helping them decide on where to live in the next chapter of their lives. Many older adults might consider different lifestyle options after downsizing or selling their homes. 

Among the choices, there are 2 options that stand out—assisted and independent living. Assisted living provides care services, support, and amenities to help with daily tasks and needs. Independent living offers freedom, flexibility, and convenience, giving your loved one more time to do what they love. 

Depending on your loved one’s lifestyle, senior living communities, such as The Legacy of St. Michael, offer different levels of care customized to suit their needs and preferences. 

What Is Independent Living?

Independent living is a lifestyle option where older adults can savor the freedom to go about their daily lives without worrying about household chores, snow removal, and maintenance. This tailored living arrangement benefits older adults who are self-sufficient in managing daily tasks and seek a community that fosters social engagement and an active lifestyle.

Embracing Independence

Independent living communities provide private residences, typically in the form of an apartment home. These spaces accommodate the diverse needs of older adults while promoting an independent lifestyle. A community might feature common rooms where residents can connect, along with beautiful outdoor spaces with access to shopping, dining, and entertainment.

Community Connection

A hallmark of independent living is the sense of community in these spaces. Residents relish the freedom to manage their schedules, indulge in hobbies, and participate in community events at their discretion.

Social activities, group outings, and communal dining areas facilitate connections among residents, fostering friendships and a vibrant social life. It’s a haven for those who value companionship without sacrificing their independence.

Maintenance-Free Living

One of the perks of independent living is the liberation from the burdens of household chores and maintenance. From lawn care to housekeeping, these responsibilities are gracefully shouldered by the community staff, allowing residents to redirect their energy toward pursuits that bring them joy.

Aging in Place

Independent living at The Legacy of St. Michael offers an Aging in Place program ideal for those who are seeking an independent lifestyle with a long-term plan in place. Your loved ones can enjoy their independent lifestyle without worrying about future care needs. 

Aging in place allows for a seamless transition from independent to assisted living, where older adults can receive enhanced care and additional services in the same apartment without moving to another building. 

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living, on the other hand, provides a compassionate and supportive environment, ideal for older adults who require a minimal to moderate level of assistance with daily activities, such as:

  • Help with moving around
  • Help with maintaining personal hygiene
  • Help with daily housework
  • Help with medication management and doctor’s appointments

Assisted living bridges the gap between independent living and more intensive care options, ensuring residents receive personalized assistance while maintaining a degree of autonomy.

Apartment amenities in assisted living may include:

  • Studio, 1, and 2-bedroom apartments
  • Washer & dryer 
  • Full kitchen 
  • Individually controlled temperature settings
  • Walk-in showers
  • Controlled access entry system
  • Daily check-in system

Tailored Support

Assisted living communities provide personalized care plans tailored to the specific needs of each resident. Trained staff members are available around the clock to assist with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, and medication management. This level of care helps individuals maintain their independence with a support system there when they need it.

Safety & Security

Assisted living communities prioritize the safety and well-being of their residents. Features like emergency response systems, secure environments, and 24-hour health service staff provide a reassuring atmosphere. Families and their loved ones can find peace of mind knowing that support is available whenever needed.

Community & Companionship

While assisted living offers a higher level of support, it doesn’t compromise on the importance of community and companionship. Shared communal spaces and amenities foster a sense of camaraderie among residents. The community becomes a supportive network where residents can thrive socially.

Some of the amenities and services you might find in an assisted living community as well as an independent living community include:

  • Daily chef-prepared meals 
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Wellness programs
  • Bistros and pubs
  • Private dining rooms
  • Community rooms
  • Visiting spiritual services
  • Spas
  • Courtyards
  • Chapels
  • Salons
  • Libraries
5 seniors sitting on a couch, smiling and laughing

Flexible & Customizable Lifestyle Options

While assisted living provides an extra level of care and support for those needing a helping hand, both assisted living and independent living communities are designed to help residents maintain their independence and gain a greater sense of community. 

The transition to a senior living community is not just a change of residence—it’s the beginning of a new chapter filled with opportunities for growth, connection, and joy. The key lies in recognizing your loved one’s needs and preferences and maintaining the delicate balance between independence and assistance. 

If you’re considering senior living for a loved one, book a tour with The Legacy of St. Michael to see what our independent and assisting living options offer. 

Written by Lifespark

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