Independent Living or Assisted Living: Differences You Should Know

As older adults move through their retirement years and begin to look for housing options that provide an active lifestyle, modern amenities, and help nearby, senior living communities tend to be a popular choice. However, how can you know which senior living community could be the best for you or your aging loved one? The first step in educating yourself about your senior living options is to recognize the differences between independent living and assisted living. Recognizing the differences will allow you to determine which community offers what you, or your loved one, need to stay healthy and happy.


What is Independent Living?

Older adults, over the age of 62, who do not need assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, toileting, eating, dressing, etc.), can thrive in an independent living community. These senior living communities are typically vibrant, active, and focused on wellness. Staff members are there in an effort to point residents in the direction of resources and opportunities to maintain their independence, health, and wellness for as long as possible.


Seniors who move into independent living communities are typically not doing so out of a crisis or medical need. Instead, new residents flock to these communities to engage with an active lifestyle with new neighbors, as well as to enjoy fewer household chores or responsibilities.


Many independent living communities offer residents

What is Assisted Living?

Not all seniors can manage daily tasks, like dressing or cooking, safely and independently. Assisted living communities offer extra help with these activities of daily living, with the goal of giving residents a boost of confidence, safety, and peace of mind. Many assisted living residents move in to receive that extra care or set of helping hands due to an immediate or potential medical need.


Assisted living communities typically offer residents care around the clock, provided by Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) with care plans overseen by a nurse. Due to the more clinical nature of the services provided, assisted living communities are regulated by federal and state laws. Communities are surveyed at least annually to assure compliance and quality of care.


Era Living offers both independent living and assisted living at each of our eight premier, active communities. Residents are given the opportunity to age in place in their apartment, even as their needs increase, due to flexible licensing at Era Living.

The goal of flexible licensing is to allow a resident to exercise their right to choice, while still receiving the additional assistance that allows them to remain healthy. For example, if a resident moves into an independent living apartment in an Era Living community and begins to need additional assistance with some activities of daily living, that resident may have the opportunity to receive that help without moving into another assisted living apartment. The goal of flexible licensing is that Era Living residents can enjoy the help they need in the environment they choose, allowing them to continue to live among their friends and neighbors.

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The amenities of a senior community are as unique as the residents who live there. The Baby Boomer generation expects amenities to be modern and elegant, making retirement even more of a pleasure.


Independent living communities typically offer a wide variety of amenities to residents and guests. Lovely dining rooms and meals that feature a choice of entrees are often a staple of independent living communities. There are typically a variety of apartment layouts for residents to choose from, some including more than one bedroom or a balcony. Residents of independent living communities may benefit from having neighbors right down the hall and the opportunity to have complementary housekeeping services weekly.


Assisted living communities also offer a variety of amenities for residents and guests to enjoy. Many communities feature a library and access to technology, WiFi and cable television. Assisted living residents often have the opportunity to socialize with neighbors in a friendly dining room while eating healthy foods prepared with their medical diet in mind.


Era Living communities feature beautiful amenities for both independent living and assisted living residents. We know it is important for all seniors to experience lovely dining, spacious apartments, and access to technology. In fact, if assisted living services eventually become necessary for an independent living resident, flexible licensing allows these residents to access assisted living right in the comfort of their independent living apartment.



For most older adults living in senior communities, the lifestyle is what drew them in. Many independent living communities specialize in providing residents with an active and rich lifestyle, full of opportunities to connect with peers or learn something new. Most independent living communities dedicate an entire department for planning and executing events, activities, and opportunities for residents to enjoy. Movie nights, auditing classes with the local university, karaoke competitions, and gardening clubs are just the tip of the iceberg. Residents living in independent living communities may also have the chance to take exercise classes, take a dip in the community swimming pool, display their recent art in an art show, and jump on a bus to go grocery shopping downtown.


Assisted living communities also feature a full activity calendar, chock full of events that encourage health and wellness each day. Activities and events are adjusted to fit the abilities and challenges of the residents, with opportunities to work on range of motion and strength, as well as memory acuity and active socialization. Trivia groups, reminiscing activities, ice cream socials, and trips to check out the museum in town are just a sampling of potential events assisted living residents could enjoy.


Residents in Era Living communities, whether independent or assisted living, enjoy nearly the same lifestyle opportunities. However, we understand that seniors living with early-stage memory loss or cognitive challenges can benefit from additional and intentional interaction. The Memory Fitness program is tailored for specific residents who are living with memory impairment and includes targeted memory engagement activities, art opportunities, and music interventions.



The biggest difference between independent living and assisted living communities is the amount of assistance available to the residents throughout the day. Independent living residents typically have a staff of caring team members available throughout the work week during business hours. These staff members assist with meal preparation, facilitating activities, cleaning apartments, and providing maintenance assistance. Many communities do have a medical professional available during business hours for assistance with medical questions or light screenings like blood pressure checks. Independent living communities are designed to help residents find peace of mind with safety precautions, such as wellness checks upon request or security staff to help with emergencies in the middle of the night.


Assisted living communities feature a more comprehensive staff of caring and compassionate team members for personalized assistance. Residents can have assistance with tasks they may struggle with due to chronic pain or complex medical conditions. For example, residents can receive assistance with bathing, dressing, or medication management. A team comprised of competent and dedicated professionals work diligently to provide residents with support designed to help them feel their best.


Your Next Steps

Are you ready to tour a premier senior community that offers modern amenities, new opportunities, and compassionate care? Contact Era Living and begin the process of becoming one of our newest residents. We look forward to serving you!