Independent Living vs. Assisted Living

older lady smiing at the camera

A question you hear a lot in senior living is “which is the right fit—independent living or assisted living?”

The answer to that question lies in the definition of each community type. By fully understanding the two terms, you’ll be able to better understand which is the ideal place for you.

Independent Living Defined

Independent living is for older adults who don’t need assistance in their daily lives. Residents receive access to services and amenities, such as dining, maintenance and community programming and activities. Independent living communities are designed to help senior residents live healthy and active lives.

You will likely come across communities that offer independent living in addition to other care levels. Those communities are called continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) or life plan communities, and their goal is to provide a continuum of care to residents in case their health needs change.

Assisted Living Defined

Assisted living is a residential option for seniors who need a little assistance with daily activities. Assisted living communities provide housekeeping, meals and personal care and support services as needed.

Assisted living is generally a good fit for seniors who may need help with one or two activities of daily living (ADLs), but don’t require 24/7 skilled nursing care.


Related: What Are Activities of Daily Living?


Assisted Living vs. Independent Living: Which Is Right for Me?

One way to think of assisted living is that it’s like independent living for those who need a little more help. Residents in assisted living communities still have a lot of autonomy but receive the support they need to stay safe and healthy.

In general, when deciding which is the best fit for you, ask yourself: Do you need help with routine tasks like dining or reminders to take your medication? If the answer is yes, it may be a sign that it’s time for assisted living. If the answer is no, you may want to look into independent living.

However, keep in mind that moving to assisted living does not mean losing your freedom. It may not have it in the title, but an assisted living community still offers independence. In assisted living, you can wake up when you like, eat when you like and do what you want, when you want.

Some assisted living communities may also offer a different rate for those who wish to move into assisted living but don’t need assistance with ADLs. For example, Whetstone Rehabilitation Center, Skilled Nursing & Assisted Living in Columbus, offers what’s called a “lifestyle rate.”

Why do people choose to “move in early” to an assisted living community when they don’t need assistance with ADLs? Because when they do, they can enjoy the convenience of having meals prepared, events planned and maintenance taken care of for them. Should they ever need assistance due to changing health needs, they can receive it right in their apartment without having to uproot their lives and move.

The MacIntosh Company: Assisted Living Communities in the Columbus, OH Area

When making your decision between independent living and assisted living, it’s always a good idea to discuss it with family and friends, as well as your doctor. They’ll be able to help you decide which is the best fit for your needs.

Five of our seven MacIntosh communities offer assisted living to seniors in the Central Ohio region. Learn more about each community by following the links below:

Canal Winchester

Mill Run

New Albany