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Independent Living versus Assisted Living

Independent Living vs. Assisted Living | Retirement Center Management


What is the difference between independent living and assisted living?

If you’re older, in pretty good health, and have an eye on the future, you might’ve started researching your senior living options. And if you searched a phrase like “retirement community” on the internet, your results probably came back littered with all kinds of terms. Continuing Care Retirement Community. Senior care. Independent living. Assisted living.

And that’s just scratching the surface.

You don’t want to be overwhelmed by all the words and search results — you just want to understand the difference between independent living and assisted living. Fortunately, you’ve arrived at your most relevant search result: this blog article.

We’ll explain the differences between independent living versus assisted living, outline what each offers, and explain the benefits of both. We’ll also share thoughts on who might be best suited to thrive in independent living versus assisted living.

Independent living, defined

Independent living is a type of setting — whether it be in a 55+ community, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, or an age-restricted community — where older adults are still fully able to take care of themselves and need no care, but also want access to amenities like dining, entertainment, and scheduled events, trips and activities. They may also want to give up the responsibilities associated with homeownership, such as lawn care and maintenance.

Assisted living, defined

Assisted living is for older adults who may need some assistance with everyday tasks such as bathing, getting dressed, being able to walk, or getting out of bed. People who choose assisted living may need some type of senior care, such as managing their medications, but they’re otherwise able to live independently. They receive personalized care and support and enjoy services like housekeeping and laundry, but they’re also free to enjoy amenities like dining, activities and events.

The differences between independent living and assisted living

Ultimately, whether independent living or assisted living is right for you comes down to need. Independent living isn’t a need-based decision; typically, assisted living is.

Here’s a helpful comparison chart so you can easily see the differences between these two levels of living.






Can be large private apartments, townhomes, free-standing homes or cottages with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, full kitchens, private balconies or patios

Usually smaller, may be private or semiprivate, generally with a small kitchen or kitchenette

Housekeeping and maintenance provided

Yes, but some communities may charge extra for it


Access to community amenities



Medication management



Help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)




Up to three meals daily may be offered, though there may be an additional cost; usually there are multiple dining options

Three meals daily are provided, along with nutritious snacks available throughout the day

Fitness and wellness programs



Full calendar of events



24/7 care and support




You may quickly see that assisted living has many more “yes” responses when it comes to care. However, at Retirement Center Management independent living communities have partnerships and 24/7 support within their communities. From nightly check ins to emergency pendants that alert staff 24/7 should the need arise. There is a misconception there is no care provided within an independent living only community. As it pertains to Retirement Center Management communities, is many have on-site home health partners and residents have personal caregivers that provide care and assistance.   


Independent living versus assisted living: Which is right for you?

To better understand which level of living may be right for you, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I able to clean the house, cook my meals, mow the lawn, rake the leaves, clean the gutters, and keep up with home maintenance? If you said yes, great! Keep on keepin’ on!
  2. But do I want to continue doing all these things? Here’s where we get down to brass tacks. You may be able to take care of all those chores, but honestly, you’d rather let someone else do them. Which may make independent living a perfect choice for you.
  3. Would I thrive in an environment where I’ll meet new people who share some of my interests and hobbies? If you answered yes, consider an independent living community for its resident-led clubs, resident hobbyists, and community spaces (like art studios and woodworking shops), and ample opportunities to meet new people.
  4. Do I often struggle to bathe myself, get dressed, eat, or use the restroom? These are called Activities of Daily Living, or ADLs. Not being able to perform tasks of everyday living like these by yourself may be an indication you need assisted living.
  5. Would I benefit from being in an environment where I have more socialization than I do now? Isolation can be detrimental to an older adult’s health. If you spend the majority of your days alone at home, the social connections you’ll find at an assisted living community might be beneficial for you.
  6. Do I have a serious or chronic medical condition? If you do, assisted living may be right for you. Many assisted living settings create personalized care plans based on your unique health needs; if you need it, physical, occupational and speech therapies may also be available at the community.

Not all independent living and assisted living communities are alike.

A vital takeaway is to remember no two retirement communities are identical. Even if communities offer the same levels of senior care, including independent living and assisted living, there may be big differences in residence size, types of amenities offered, and the cost of residency.

We’re here to help you understand the difference between independent living and assisted living at a Retirement Center Management community. Get in touch with a community close to you today, or contact us.

Retirement Center Management


6363 Woodway Dr Ste. 300 Houston, TX 77057