Independent Living vs. Assisted Living

Seniors today have many choices when it comes to living situations throughout the retirement years. As the Baby Boomer generation continues to grow older, the senior care industry has worked diligently to give this population the choices they want and the care they deserve. For the majority of seniors, these choices provide empowerment and excitement. However, these choices can also provide feelings of confusion or worry.

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 difference between Independent Living and Assisted Living.

Independent Living and Assisted Living communities share some similarities. Both types of communities serve older adults, typically over the age of 65. Further, both types of communities feature staff members who strive to provide a friendly face and a helpful hand to residents. Fortunately, both Independent Living and Assisted Living communities feel homey and comfortable, not sterile and clinical like a hospital. However, seniors with certain needs or expectations may be better served in one community versus another. Here are the differences you should consider as you begin your exploration into senior care options.


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. For example, lovely dining rooms and meals that feature a choice of entree 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 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 tv services. Assisted Living residents socialize with neighbors in a friendly dining room while eating healthy foods prepared with their medical diet in mind.


For most older adults living in senior communities, the lifestyle is what drew them in. Independent Living communities specialize in providing residents an active and rich lifestyle, full of opportunities to connect with peers or learn something new. Most Independent Living communities dedicate an entire department to 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 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 who live there, 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.


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 and 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 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.

An assisted living facility, however, features a more comprehensive staff of caring and compassionate staff members that are available around the clock for personalized assistance. Residents can rest assured they will 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.

Making Your Decision

If you are not quite sure which senior living community option would work best for you or your loved one, consider asking your primary care physician for a recommendation. Your doctor can provide you with additional considerations as you begin to determine if Independent Living or Assisted Living would keep you healthy and happy for longer.

Finally, after you determine which option may be best for you, tour an Era Living community near you. Our senior living communities feature a wide variety of care options for both assisted living and independent living, all housed in unique, modern, and lovely buildings that you will be proud to call home. Give us a call today to set up your initial tour of our exceptional assisted living and independent living communities. We would love to meet you!