retirement home

The Difference Between Independent Living and Assisted Living Communities

The difference between independent living and assisted living communities generally lies in the treatment from caregivers and the abilities of the residents. That is, some older adults are more capable than others are and do not need daily help with everyday tasks. There are different costs associated with each as well. Below, you’ll find key examples of the difference between independent living and assisted living homes.


In independent living homes, members will pay an entrance fee followed by a monthly fee to stay in the community. Assisted living communities, on the other hand, are usually based on a rental system. Because assisted living generally offers more care and services, it will usually cost more overall. Meals, for example, are almost always fully provided for by assisted living communities. Those in independent living may be able to cook their own meals and select more options. As such, three meals a day and cleanup will drive up the cost of assisted living.

Daily Living Activities

Assisted living communities offer help to older adults who need it.

Independent living residents may not require help with daily activities, but they can request and arrange help if they so choose. For example, they may request laundry services so they no longer have to worry about washing, drying, and folding clothes. Assisted living communities operate based on assistance – residents often need help bathing, moving around, walking, eating, and more. They may need medication or transportation to medical appointments, and the caregivers are responsible for ensuring the residents get what they need.


The program at an independent living community will vary according to the interests and likes of the residents. They can make suggestions, but they can also go and do their own excursions if they so choose. Assisted living communities are more geared towards the needs of residents, so activities can differ slightly in type but not amount. For instance, at a memory care facility, many activities will focus on cognitive and mental exercises.

Live independently!


Assisted living communities may keep medical assistants and certified nursing assistants on staff to ensure that residents are safe. They can take proper medical care of elderly individuals. Independent living communities tend to have fewer medical professionals present on site, primarily due to the fact that more residents do not require constant supervision or care.

Involvement of Family

One of the primary reasons that families begin to investigate retirement communities is because they are no longer able to take full care of an elderly family member. Independent living communities generally let seniors live freely, yet still with supervision; the family can still be involved as well and administer care, go on trips, and more. However, for older adults who need constant care, families may look for assisted living. Assisted living caregivers are present all the time, and the family does not have to be active in the process – they can instead focus on attention, love, communication, and more.

Choosing the Right Community

Brightside Referrals is here to answer all of your questions about independent living and assisted living communities. We’ve helped place hundreds of older adults into communities, and our passion is in ensuring that the needs and expectations of families are fully met. If you’re unsure how to move forward, give us a call. We’ll outline the difference between independent living and assisted living communities and give you an idea of what’s best for your parent.

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