The Difference between Assisted and Independent Living

January 11, 2021

This blog is part of a two-part series where we’ll discuss different types of assisted living. In Part 1, we’ll discuss Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Respite Care. In Part 2, we’ll dive into Memory Care, Nursing Homes, and Home Health.

Living Facilities: What’s the difference between independent, assisted, and respite care?

Whether you’re looking for the next step in your retirement or you’re searching for a safe, active place for your aging loved one to call home, you’ll find a few different options. From assisted living to respite care, the amount of options can be overwhelming — especially when you’re trying to make a big decision. How are they different? Which is the best fit for you or your loved one? In this two-part blog series, we’re going to lay out each type of living facility and who might be a good candidate to make it their home.

Independent Living

What are the key characteristics of an independent living community?

Independent living communities give seniors the freedom and opportunity to pursue their passions and hobbies by minimizing daily responsibilities like cooking, cleaning, laundry, and home maintenance. At these communities, seniors are able to travel freely without worrying about who will mow the lawn. They can host friends without having to vacuum the living room. They can foster new friendships and learn new skills through the robust activities calendar put together by the community.

Along with freedom from the burden of home ownership comes a safe, secure environment where they know they’ll be cared for as they age. Services like bathing assistance and health checks are available for those who may need an extra hand.

Who would be a good candidate for an independent living community?

Active seniors who don’t need regular, hands-on care could benefit from life at an independent living community. Seniors who feel isolated at home may discover a new community and get much-need social stimulation.

Learn more about Legacy Senior Living’s independent living communities here: https://www.legacysl.net/lifestyle-options/independent-living.php

Assisted Living

What are the key characteristics of an assisted living community?

Assisted living communities go a step beyond independent living communities, in that they offer a more advanced level of care and assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing, sticking to a medicine schedule, and getting to doctor’s appointments. For the health and safety of its residents, assisted living communities have licensed and certified caregivers available 24 hours a day.

Assisted living communities generally offer the same opportunities for social engagement as independent living communities, though the activities may be tailored to their residents’ activity level. For example, exercise at an independent living facility may use weights and have a strengthening element, where exercise at an assisted living facility may focus more on movement.

For those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, many assisted living communities offer specialized care to support your loved one through cognitive engagement or managing behavioral symptoms in addition to the regular services of the community.

Who would be a good candidate for an assisted living community?

Assisted living communities could be an ideal home for your aging loved ones who need assistance with daily activities but still desire an active, social life. If you feel your loved one isn’t safe at home alone anymore, whether because of issues stemming from Alzheimer’s or a physical inability to manage life at home, an assisted living community could be a sanctuary for them — and give the whole family peace of mind.

Learn more about Legacy Senior Living’s assisted living communities here: https://www.legacysl.net/lifestyle-options/assisted-living.php

Respite Care

What are the key characteristics of respite care? 

When you think of respite care, think of an all-inclusive vacation. It’s short-term, and every need will be taken care of. Respite care is similar to assisted living, in that it offers help with daily activities such as cooking and dressing, in addition to a calendar full of social activities. The one big difference is that it’s short-term.

Who would be a good candidate for respite care?

Many families choose respite care when a loved one is returning from being hospitalized and needs an extra set of hands. Respite care also provides an opportunity for people who are serving as the primary caregiver for an aging loved one to refresh and recharge — something that’s needed and deserved when you’ve taken on the rewarding but taxing role of caregiver.

Learn more about Legacy Senior Living’s respite care services here: https://www.legacysl.net/lifestyle-options/respite-care.php


Understanding the differences between each type of senior community is essential when making a big life decision. We encourage you to ask yourself these two simple questions when trying to decide on the best fit:

  • What are my (or my loved one’s) basic needs?
  • What are my (or my loved one’s) goals for this next stage of life?

No matter what you decide, know that we’re here for you as a resource. If you’d like to talk things over with one of our experienced team members, you can contact us here: https://www.legacysl.net/contact-us.php

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where we’ll dig into the differences between Memory Care, Nursing Homes, and Home Health.