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Independent Living vs. Assisted Living

We live in a world filled with options. On a simple trip to the grocery store, we’re confronted by hundreds of cereals, a barrage of beef products, and at least fifty types of toothpaste! Our ancestors would likely find this both amazing and perplexing—do we really need to choose between ten different brands of water?—but in some areas it is undeniably helpful. For example, the options offered by modern retirement facilities can help seniors find the ideal home for their needs. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, independent living communities, continuing care . . . Which is right for you? To help you decide, today we’re exploring independent living vs. assisted living facilities.

Independent Living vs. Assisted Living

The difference between independent living and assisted living communities is the level of care offered by the facility. If you’re trying to choose between the two, take a moment to assess your current lifestyle and what you need from a senior housing community . . .

Independent living communities offer fully equipped private apartments and cater to seniors who are capable of living independently. They include kitchens with a full set of appliances, so that residents can cook their own meals. Seniors in this type of housing should have only minor medical problems, if any. Additionally, because they are often built using floor-plans with three stories or more, residents must have excellent mobility and be able to maneuver stairways daily. This is especially critical when fire alarms sound. The main perk of independent living facilities is that seniors are living in an active community, attending social outings, and enjoying events and entertainment.

Assisted living communities offer a higher level of care, though they don’t provide as many services as nursing homes. They are designed to meet the needs of seniors who cannot safely live alone but don’t yet require a nursing home. Residents live in private apartments with small kitchenettes (featuring a microwave, sink, small refrigerator, cabinets, and counter space), but eat in a central dining room. Assistance is provided in areas of concern, and all facilities offer meals, housekeeping, activities, events, and assistance with medications and grooming. Staff is on hand 24 hours a day, and some facilities have medical personnel on staff as well. Like independent living facilities, assisted living facilities offer a variety of activities and events, creating a lively and sociable community.

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Both independent living and assisted living facilities work well for seniors who want to live an independent lifestyle while still enjoying the friendships and activities that come with joining a community of like-minded people. If you’re debating between the two, take a moment to consider your current needs. Do you feel unsafe living alone? Are you physically or mentally unable to live alone? Would you like to have medical personnel at your facility? Do you need help with some daily activities, like preparing meals, doing laundry, driving, or cleaning? If you answered yes to any of these questions, assisted living is probably the right choice for you.

To further explore the possibilities, be sure to visit your preferred senior living communities in person. Many offer flexible services, so you’ll be able to adjust your housing experience as your needs change.

Finally, if you’re looking for an assisted living facility in Tennessee, be sure to check out Hearthside Senior Living Place. We have two locations—one in Collierville and one soon to open in Bartlett— and we would be happy to schedule a tour for you so that you can explore your preferred facility, meet some of the residents, and ask any questions you might have. We look forward to meeting you!

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