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What Is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Independent Living?

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seniors sit around tables talking in an assisted living community

While there may be some similarities between independent and assisted living, many aspects are different. Without questions, such as the following, it can lead to confusion: 

  • What differentiates independent and assisted living? 
  • What do they offer? 
  • Who benefits from assisted and independent living communities?

You can feel more confident when choosing based on your or your loved one’s needs and understanding the distinction. Senior living communities with these two lifestyle options differ in independence and the level of care offered to their residents.

Keep reading to learn how assisted living and independent living differ in detail. 

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a popular option for senior citizens. The level of service can vary for each assisted living community and depends on individual needs. Assisted living communities offer the same basic level of care as independent living with an added level of care. 

Independent Living

Independent living is housing for seniors who don’t usually need medical attention, can look after themselves, and prefer to live among peers. They have no problems getting around on their own, have freedom, and are happy with added perks, such as a hassle-free life. 

Differences Between Assisted and Independent Living

Assisted and independent living cater to seniors with different needs and offers a community to fit their lifestyle the best. Here are the differences and who benefits from each. 


Independent living is usually the first step for seniors after retiring, losing a spouse, or desiring to live independently for as long as possible without the hassles of owning a home. Housing arrangements in these communities include independent apartments or condos with access to common areas. 

Seniors looking for independence, freedom, flexibility, social connection, less responsibility, with no need for medical care benefit the most from independent living. 

Assisted living could be described as one level up from independent living. As the name suggests, this senior living option offers assistance. 

Living arrangements in assisted living have a smaller footprint, with all apartments in one building for the convenience of residents. Some of these communities even have specialized care such as memory support for seniors to transition as their care needs increase. 

Seniors looking to maintain independence while needing help with daily living, seek social activities, and are currently in good health but anticipate needing medical care will benefit the most from assisted living. 

Support & Services

All independent living communities are different and offer different support services. These communities may provide support by taking care of:

  • Maintenance and upkeep
  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Sometimes meal preparation and activities

Support in assisted living consists of helping with:

  • Activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and general hygiene
  • Medication management
  • Assistance with walking 
  • Incontinence care
  • 24-hour care

Assisted living communities offer regular services by taking care of:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Meal preparations and accommodating dietary requirements
  • Transportation
  • Coordination with healthcare providers
  • Group activities
  • Educational seminars


Amenities provide residents with activities that suit their interests and abilities. Independent living is an active community with an age restriction of 55+. 

Residents are mainly independent, and amenities may include meal preparations, dining facilities, security, and organized activities or events. 

Amenities in assisted living offer a wide array of experiences to connect with the rest of the community. These may include:

  • Dining venues
  • Space for spiritual services
  • Movie theater
  • Game room
  • In-house library
  • Billards
a senior woman holding books in an independent living community


Independent living is not regarded as senior care and therefore is more affordable. Assisted living is senior care with services, including prepared meals, assistance with daily living, and 24-hour care from caregivers, which make it more costly.  

The cost of assisted living also depends on the size of the apartment, the type of services needed, and where special services have additional fees. The cost of independent living depends on location and amenities with minimal costs and the majority, including rent and taxes. 

Senior Living at Mattison Crossing

As the population ages, there is an increase in seniors looking for living options. The main difference between independent living and assisted living is the level of assistance each offers, but both offer some level of independence. 
If you or a senior family member are ready to explore options between assisted and independent living, call Mattison Crossing or schedule a visit today to find out more. We can answer all your questions and help you choose the right living option based on needs, lifestyle, and budget.

Morgan Berardi

Written by Morgan Berardi

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