When you’re trying to find senior housing for your loved one, the first thing you should take into account is the type of care they need – yes, even before price. Senior living communities are not hard to come by, but the type of care that you’re looking for narrows the search.

It’s a lot like looking for your first home. When you throw out “price,” the possibilities are endless – but that’s good, it allows you to narrow your search to what you really want.

For most people just starting their research into elder care homes, the two most prevalent are Independent Living and Assisted Living.

Independent Living

Independent living is synonymous with Retirement Homes – just in case you were wondering. As its name suggests, independent living is essentially “independence”. Seniors have a great deal of freedom and are able to readily leave their community if they so choose. In fact, the staff are really there for maintenance of yards or the houses themselves.

Of course, if your elder is perfectly capable of taking care of their own house, then you’re probably wondering, why shouldn’t they just hire some in-home care? Here’s why:

1. Independent living puts you in a community of your peers.

Your elder may like their neighbors, but maybe they don’t or maybe they don’t communicate with them on a regular basis; maybe, even worse, they don’t live in the best neighborhood. If that’s the case, then your elder might start feeling isolated and could suffer from depression.

When you’re trying to find the right senior housing and you’re thinking about the type of care they need, think about their social life. A community of peers, brings seniors together and the community managers often host games, dances, and various other events for the whole crowd to get together. This may be an especially important option for seniors that have lost their spouse or partner.

2. Senior living is close to medical help.

This is usually high on peoples’ list and it’s definitely one of ways independent living separates itself from simply at-home care. Retirement homes either have a nurse on-campus or a nurse on-call. In addition, many are nearby to hospitals so you know your loved one would receive speedy care.

Yes, even though Retirement communities foster senior independence, there are staff that visit regularly – even if it’s just to maintain the lawn. One of the biggest fears people face when it comes to their loved one living alone at home is if they fall and cannot reach a phone to call for help. That fear is quelled by a senior living community.

3. Holds a spot for future senior care needs like assisted living or nursing homes

Many retirement homes are similar to Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs), in that they offer the increased assistance you would find with Assisted Living or Nursing Homes. So, say your senior suffers from a chronic health condition, then they may want to move into a retirement community, so that when they need more assistance, they can get it without moving.

In addition, when you’re trying to find senior housing, consider your loved one’s marital status, because CCRCs are great for couples where one spouse needs care but the other does not. So what about assisted living?

Assisted Living

Most assisted living residences are modeled like apartments, so whereas independent living can range from apartments to condos to palatial estates (yes, really), assisted living is usually restricted to apartment homes.

However, assisted living (ALs – as they’re frequently called) also offer community, close proximity to medical help, and can offer placeholders for those who may need more help in the future.

So what’s the difference?

Independent Living Vs Assisted Living

When it comes to deciding between independent living vs assisted living, a big difference is variety. Independent living ranges across the board, but the care is minimal. Meanwhile, assisted living provide similar (not the same) care and layout. And, when you’re trying to find new housing for your loved one, the main thing to consider is the type of care. Assisted living offers help with the activities of daily living (ADLs) for any seniors that need help with bathing, showering, shaving, cooking, eating, etc. In addition, they provide transportation so your elder doesn’t even need to drive to see a play or movie or simply go downtown!

You can always hire in-home care with your elder in an independent living, but that’s an additional cost whereas assisted living has it factored in already.