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Inspirit Senior Living
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Day-to-Day differences of Assisted vs. Independent Living

If you’ve been looking into senior living options, you may have come across different terms and wondered what they mean. It can be a bit confusing, but knowing what they mean can help you make the right decision around what option works for you.

A common question is that of independent living and assisted living. What is the difference between the two, and which works for you?

Costs & Facilities

A major difference is that of costs. Assisted living works with a rental model where the costs include maintenance, housekeeping meals, staffing, etc. You will also find personal care included for a couple of hours per individual, which could include help with bathing, grooming, and other such things. Assisted living is largely out-of-pocket.

Independent living has an entrance fee and a monthly fee. It includes housekeeping and maintenance, etc. but not personal care.

If you are able to handle these things on your own, you may prefer independent living over assisted living.

Medical Care

Independent living facilities are usually for older adults who don’t need a lot of medical assistance, and thus are relatively more independent. They do not offer healthcare services, though they do have access to immediate help if needed.

Assisted living facilities offer medical care as part of their services, and have registered nurses who are available to help whenever the need arises. They have healthcare services on-site so that residents don’t have to leave to visit their doctors.

Meals in assisted living are also provided free of cost, with the residents’ medical and nutritional needs in mind, with specialized diets available for people with medical conditions. Independent living offers meals in a sort of buffet, and sometimes these are not included in the fees either.

Community Design

Independent living often has communities where individuals get their own large space, with a few common areas for programs, meals, and activities. These could be as buildings or campuses, and sometimes even cottages and separate houses.

Assisted living offers smaller spaces for individuals because the residents are able to access all their needs almost immediately. Memory care is also more focused in assisted living facilities.


Independent living allows older adults to have a lot more control over their life due to their independent nature. The decision-making power lies with the resident, and while families can come and visit as often as they like they are not necessarily able to make any decisions for their aging relatives.

In assisted living, however, since the resident requires a lot more care, families have a more active role to play. As an example, residents with dementia are not able to make decisions for themselves, and families are kept updated on their health and wellbeing, and are constantly included in the planning process of how care shall be given.

Depending on your personal circumstances, you may prefer or need independent living to assisted living, or vice versa. It’s important to consider your requirements before you make any major decisions about your senior life.

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