Are you trying to find new living arrangements for your aging loved one?

Finding the right living arrangements for a loved one can be an overwhelming process. In order to find the best fit for your loved one, it’s important to understand the types of living options that are available.

The main decision you need to make is whether an independent living facility or an assisted living facility is better for your loved one. What’s the difference?

Check out this guide to learn about independent living vs assisted living.

What is Independent Living?

Before we dive into how to choose between independent living and assisted living, let’s first talk about what each of these is.

In an independent living community, your loved one will be able to live a fairly autonomous and active lifestyle. They’ll also be provided with social opportunities that allow them to connect with others in their age group who share similar interests.

In an independent living community, senior citizens live in their own space. The space they live in varies from community to community. Some independent living communities are made up of separate homes, while others are made up of apartments or cottages.

In addition to bathroom and bedroom facilities, many independent living facilities also come with full-service kitchens. Therefore, residents are able to prepare and host their own dinners.

Many independent living communities also come with laundry services, transportation, and housekeeping services. This makes it so seniors can relinquish these daily responsibilities and instead focus on living a healthy, social life.

Those who gravitate toward independent living communities tend to be healthy, active, and in need of little assistance.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living facilities are best for seniors who are unable to live on their own due to physical or cognitive impairments. Some ailments that may prevent your loved one from being able to live independently include Alzheimer’s, arthritis, paralysis, diabetes, or heart disease.

In an assisted living community, seniors are provided with their own private or semi-private living space. Typically, these are apartment-style rooms that are equipped with beds and bathrooms. Assisted living facilities are also equipped with staff 24/7 to help the residents with activities of daily living.

Staff members are typically comprised of personal care assistants, medical attendants, certified nurse assistants, and other care aids. There are also typically a few medical professionals on staff, ranging from LPNs to RNs to doctors.

Independent Living vs Assisted Living: How to Choose

So, how do you choose between independent living and assisted living? Here are some things to keep in mind to help you make the right decision for your loved one:


As we mentioned early, living accommodations can vary widely in an independent living facility. You can find independent living facilities that offer condos, apartments, cottages, or townhomes.

With assisted living, accommodation is typically limited to an apartment that comes with a private bed, bathroom, and small living area. Some assisted living facilities have private kitchens, but many don’t due to safety concerns.

If your loved one can handle living independently, then an independent living facility may be the best choice. If they need a bit more help and being in a kitchen alone poses a danger to them, then assisted living is probably the right choice.


Some independent living communities offer meals, while others do not. If they do offer meals, it’s usually at an additional cost. With assisted living, meals are usually built into the program. They’re typically served in a communal area three times per day.

If your loved one has no problem grocery shopping, prepping food, and cooking on their own, then an independent living facility may be best. If they struggle with these things, then assisted living may be better.


Another important thing to consider is whether or not your loved one needs help with housekeeping. Many independent living communities offer housekeeping services, but it’s at an additional cost.

With assisted living, housekeeping is built into the cost.


When deciding between an assisted living facility and an independent living facility, you also need to consider whether or not your loved one needs a caregiver.

If you choose an independent living facility, then you will need to arrange supplemental care for your loved one. Typically, this is done through a home health aide organization. With assisted living, caregivers are available around the clock.

However, if your loved one needs additional care via a psychiatrist, physical therapist, or another medical professional, then you’ll typically need to arrange this on your own.


Independent living facilities typically offer social outings and planned events. Many independent living facilities, like John Knox Village, also have community centers that are equipped with golf courses, gyms, swimming pools, and tennis courts where residents can interact.

In assisted living facilities, activities are scheduled on a daily basis to keep the residents busy.


Some independent living facilities offer transportation options, while others do not. Assisted living facilities typically offer transportation to and from doctor’s appointments as well as transportation for errands.


Of course, cost is a major consideration when choosing between an assisted living facility and an independent living facility. While assisted living is usually around double the cost of independent living, it’s important to remember that you get a lot more for the price.

However, if your loved one doesn’t need 24/7 care, daily activities, or help with transportation, cooking, and housekeeping, then it may not be worth it to pay extra.

Independent Living vs Assisted Living: Which Will You Choose?

Now that you know more about independent living vs assisted living, it’s time to decide which one is right for your loved one. It’s important to spend some time evaluating your loved one’s needs so you can make the right decision.

Be sure to browse our blog for more senior living tips and tricks!