Assisted Living vs Independent Living: Which One is Right For YouSkip to content

Assisted Living vs Independent Living and Who Is It For

Published: Dec 30, 2022. Last Updated: Jan 8, 2023.

If you or your loved one is nearing retirement, it’s likely that you are already envisioning the kind of living situation that you want. However, with all the senior living options to choose from and all the variables to consider, making a decision might not be that easy. There are many things to keep in mind when you weigh your choices, including your budget, health status, care needs, location, and many more. It’s completely normal to have questions cloud up your thoughts as you plan ahead, but remember that mapping out all your choices with ample research will make the entire process a lot more bearable.

When it comes to senior living options, there is no right or wrong decision, but you can always have the best one by carefully weighing all the vital factors based on your needs. If you are a senior who doesn’t require much assistance, but prefers a convenient aging, then independent living may be a great option for you. On the other hand, if you want extra support and assistance while still honoring your independence, you might want to consider assisted living.

Assisted Living Might be Best for:

  • Seniors whose health and well-being requires higher level of support
  • Older adults who need help with their daily activities such as bathing, toileting, dressing, and medication management.
  • Seniors who have health-related issues that require supervision such as arthritis, failing eyesight, or Alzheimer’s, among others.
  • People with history of fall, with or without injury

Assisted living is one of the many senior living options we have on the list, and this is the best option if you need someone to assist you with personal care needs and general household care. Registered nurses are onsite 24/7, ready to help you with your medical needs. Trained staff are also there to extend a helping hand with your daily activities. Don’t get it wrong, you can still be independent while you enjoy these conveniences. In an assisted living facility, you are provided with a supportive environment wherein you are encouraged to thrive with independence, maintain your dignity, and preserve your privacy.

Assisted Living Levels of Care

An Assisted Living facility offers different levels of care, ranging from low to high levels depending on the amount of support you need with your ADLs or Activities of Daily Living. This is an important thing to look into as you assess your options for senior living, primarily because it will help you determine the specific tasks you need help with on a daily basis.

Every senior’s needs vary depending on their health condition, mobility status, and generally, their ability to perform daily functions. In an assisted living facility, your individual needs are assessed based on the basic ADLs you are able or unable to accomplish independently to determine the kind of assistance or service that they will provide you, to include:


Some seniors struggle to deal with daily tasks that require time and effort such as bathing, for reasons like physical pain, discomfort, limited mobility, and the anxiety about slipping or falling in the shower.


With the onset of physical changes that come with old age, follows issues in ambulating or walking or moving around independently. If moving around is an issue in any way, you will be given the right support to address this need.


You might need someone to help you with putting your clothes on, fastening your zipper or snapping your buttons on.


Assistance is also provided with grooming yourself as needed, to include brushing your teeth, shaving, fixing your hair, trimming your nails, and others.


This area of need applies if you have trouble with moving around, standing, or transferring from one place to another without the help of mobility aids such as a wheelchair or walking cane.

Continence and Toileting

This refers to the ability to control your bowel movement and bladder function without the need of other’s assistance. This also includes the level of assistance needed in getting to and from the toilet.


As we age, we may need a heightened level of assistance when taking our meals because of several reasons, such as limited mobility that inhibits self-feeding and the risk of choking.


Seniors living with a health condition, be it mild or serious, may need to be reminded with their medicines, while others may need help in taking them.

Services and Amenities Offered in an Assisted Living Facility

When you choose to age in an assisted living facility, you get access to a safe and comfortable community that is designed to help meet your unique needs as you enjoy your golden years. While the set-up is different for various facilities across every location, the services and amenities serve the same purpose of providing care and assistance to its residents. Often, services include provision of food for three meals in a day, medication monitoring, personal care, housekeeping and laundry, recreational and social activities, and 24/7 emergency care.

Generally, the buildings and overall facility design of an assisted living facility are senior-friendly, which means that the facility is clean, has appropriate ventilation, and an easy-to-follow floorplan. The doorways and hallways should also be able to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, and handrails must be installed to aid in walking. On top of these, you also have to look into the availability of elevators if it’s a multi-storey building, and whether or not the flooring is skid-free.

Living Environment in an Assisted Living Facility

The goal in any assisted living facility is to create a better living environment for its residents. The physical setting of an assisted living facility varies depending on the location, some are high-rise buildings with individual apartments, while some are situated on a wide estate with separate, single-bedroom or two-bedroom houses. No matter the difference in the physical set-up of the facility, an assisted living facility provides a chance for seniors to live comfortably without the stress of taking care of their household, and to connect with people within their age group.

Independent Living Might be Best for:

  • Seniors who do not need a great deal of help with personal care
  • Older adults who like to enjoy aging with confidence that help is always nearby
  • People who like to lead a more active and social lifestyle

Independent Living Levels of Care

Compared to an assisted living facility, residents in an independent living community may not require as much personal assistance. The greatest perks here include having a space to enjoy leisure activities while being free from the stress of maintaining a household. This may also divert the likelihood of isolation and depression among seniors because they tend to withdraw from engaging in activities if they’re just at home.

An independent living facility can accommodate low to moderate levels of care, which may include facilitating tasks such as:

Booking appointments

The support staff may do tasks for you such as scheduling your appointment to maximize your time and spare you from the hassle of not booking ahead of time.

Arranging transportation

This includes providing means of transportation to help you go wherever you need to be like running errands, therapy appointments, and other local activities.

Provision of meals

In an independent living facility, three meals are provided in a day, and a common dining area or restaurant is also available if you prefer to dine with your peers. Depending on your preference, meals can also be delivered to your apartment or house.

Laundry and housekeeping

These services are included in an independent living facility to absolve you from these time and energy-consuming chores. With laundry and housekeeping crossed out of your to-do list, you can have more free time to enjoy doing the things you love.

Delivering groceries

You can also look forward to having someone shop for your groceries and other needs. In this way, you save more of your time to enjoy a wide variety of recreational activities in the community.

Services and Amenities Offered in an Independent Living Facility

There are several amenities that you can enjoy onsite in an independent living facility to uplift your spirits, to include a library, theater, garden, courtyard, fitness center, bar, chapel, and event space. All these features allow the residents to focus more on enjoying what is there to appreciate. The provision of meals, housekeeping and laundry, stand-by emergency care, and enhanced safety can ease the minds of the residents which can make everything better for them.

Living Environment in an Independent Living Facility

Like an assisted living facility, the setting for an independent living facility is different in every location. You may encounter some facilities that offer studio-type apartments or those with detached homes. However different they may be, the set-up for any independent living facility aims to provide seniors with a healthy and independent lifestyle that is centered on wholesome activities that allow them to make the most out of their golden years.

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About the Author

JM Guiang

Writer & Researcher

Elder Guide LLC

Inspired by fresh ideas and wise words, JM Guiang, Communications degree-holder, and Elder Guide writer, finds profound joy in writing quality content and insightful articles that redefine seniors' perspective on aging with grace and confidence.