Retirement Community Living – Independent Living Vs Assisted Living

A retirement community typically offers independent living and assisted living options. Many of these communities also provide healthcare services onsite.

Seniors who are healthy enough to live alone can thrive in retirement community living. But if they’re experiencing medical challenges, they might need a higher level of care, like that offered in an assisted living facility.

Independent Living

Independent living is a care option for seniors who can still live independently but want to enjoy community participation’s safety and socializing opportunities. Residents pay a monthly fee covering rent, meal options, housekeeping services, and access to onsite amenities and social activities.

Residents have a private apartment-style living space with a kitchen, but staff can help them with medication management or housekeeping. Unlike assisted living, there is often no nursing care involved with independent living.

Many people find that they are eligible for this type of care and can use their long-term care insurance or Medicare to cover some of the costs. Independent living sits in the middle if you imagine a spectrum of care options with non-medical assistance on the left side and skilled nursing on the right. It’s also known as senior apartment living or 55-plus communities.

Assisted Living

Assisted living provides a safe and convenient option for seniors who may require help with everyday tasks, such as getting dressed or bathing. These communities typically offer daily meals, housekeeping and laundry services, transportation, and scheduled activities to encourage social connections and hobbies. While Medicare doesn’t cover this care level, many long-term care policies include it.

Independent and assisted living facilities offer various housing options, from apartments to larger detached houses. Some of these communities may also provide onsite health care, with staff available 24/7 to assist with basic needs and medication management.

Continuing care retirement communities offer a continuum of care so residents can move from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care within the same community. Often, these communities offer different levels of housing and services in one location, with amenities such as a pool, walking paths, and restaurants. This type of community can be more expensive than standalone independent and assisted living facilities.

Memory Care

Memory care is a specialized form of senior living that offers a comfortable environment for seniors with cognitive challenges, such as dementia. Memory care communities provide higher staff support and typically offer more extensive programming, such as mental and physical exercises. They may be more expensive than independent or assisted living communities.

Imagine a line of care from non-medical services like housekeeping and meals on the left to 24-hour nursing care on the right. Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) sit in the middle, offering residents a continuum of care options as their health needs change. These communities usually include independent and assisted living options, with some also offering memory care. Separate living options are ideal for healthy seniors or those with limited health concerns. They are an excellent option for people who want low-maintenance housing, social activities, and onsite dining. Independent living fees usually include rent, utilities, transportation, and a meal plan.


Whether you need a little help with everyday activities now or are aware that in the future, it will be time to seek assistance, retirement community living provides peace of mind that the right level of care is always available. Unlike nursing homes, retirement communities are regulated by individual states and have different standards. Try to visit a facility before signing on the dotted line.

Retirement community living offers a maintenance-free lifestyle, freeing residents of lawn care and home repair tasks. Most also provide centralized hospitality services to improve socialization. And many offer gourmet dining options tailored to a resident’s nutritional and physical needs. This lifestyle is ideal for healthy seniors who are comfortable living independently but want the security of onsite services and entertainment.