Choosing a senior living community is a big decision, and you want to make the best choice possible so that you can thrive in your new home. The first step to finding a community you will love for years to come is making sure you know what type of senior living community will meet your needs now and in the future. There are generally four types of senior living options: independent living, assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing. The most common dilemma is often choosing between independent and assisted living.
If you are wondering about the benefits and drawbacks of independent living versus assisted living, we are here to help. Here is a bit more information about the differences between the two as well as why assisted living is often a better long-term decision.
Independent Living vs. Assisted Living
Independent living and assisted living often offer similar amenities and opportunities, which is why potential residents can struggle to choose one over the other. To make matters even more confusing, senior living communities often offer both independent living and assisted living solutions in one building or on one campus.
Independent living and assisted living both offer spacious home floor plans; outdoor paths and spaces; on-site physical, occupational, and speech therapy; and amenities like fitness centers and even swimming pools. However, it is important to note the main difference between the two: support from experienced caregivers.
Assisted living residents benefit from having around-the-clock caregivers available to lend a helping hand, offer a verbal reminder, or simply check in on them throughout the day. Even better, caregivers are available to assist in case of an emergency, which can bring peace of mind to the resident and their family members.
Which Option Is Right for Me?
In many cases, potential residents look at independent living as the most desirable choice for them, especially because the name of the option includes the word independent. However, assisted living residents are often quite independent, too! In fact, having the right support and assistance throughout the day can actually enhance independence by eliminating stress and increasing energy.
Adults might tour independent living and believe they would flourish in that environment, but it is important to consider if extra support and assistance would benefit you. In an independent living community, there are not caregivers available around the clock to remind you to take your medications, follow up with you after a physician appointment, or check in on you if you don’t come down to dinner.
Would you benefit from having a consistent caregiver presence for support or in case of emergency? If so, assisted living is the better choice.
Another point to consider when choosing between independent living and assisted living is cognitive decline. Thanks to earlier detection, people are discovering their diagnoses of Alzheimer’s or another dementia while they are still in the early stages of the disease. Those in the early stages of dementia can live quite independently with perhaps just a few supports in place to help with home tasks or organization. However, as the disease progresses, a move from an independent living home to an assisted living or memory care home can be quite jarring or even traumatic.
The solution could be choosing an assisted living home from the start, especially if the community features special programs or opportunities for those in the early stages of dementia.
Questions to Ask Yourself
As you decide whether independent living or assisted living is the best option for you, here are a few questions to ask yourself or your family members. A “yes” answer would indicate that you might be a better fit for assisted living, where you can enjoy all the same maintenance-free living and amenities as you would in independent living but with that extra peace of mind that comes from having access to around-the-clock caregivers.
- Do I have a medical condition that will increase my need for support or assistance in the next few years?
- Would my family members feel more comfortable if they knew a caregiver was available to check in on me throughout the day and in case of an emergency?
- Have I fallen in the past 6 months?
- Would I benefit from having someone else prepare all of my daily meals so that I don’t have to worry about it?
- Is my current medication schedule confusing or overwhelming for me to maintain on my own?
Learn more about what type of senior living might be best for you by taking our free quiz. Just a few minutes of your time and a few clicks on the computer can point you in the right direction.