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Assisted Living vs. Independent Living: How do you know which is best for your aging parent?

When researching a senior living community for yourself or a loved one, it’s about finding the right place at the right time. Independent living and assisted living are wonderful options that have similarities and differences and understanding the choices will help you determine what’s right for you or your parent.

Here are ways independent and assisted living differ.

Assisted Living:

-This is typically a rental model. Monthly fees include maintenance, housekeeping, security, three meals a day, programming, and 24/7 staffing.

-One to two hours of daily personal care often is included in the monthly rent (and if it is not, this is available for an additional fee). This can include assistance with bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and medication administration.

-Assisted living facilities are generally smaller and more intimate. The majority of the resident’s needs are provided right in the assisted living building.

- Some assisted living communities offer special programs for people with memory loss.

Independent Living:

-Seniors pay an entrance fee to enter (usually 90 percent is refundable upon leaving), and an additional monthly fee to cover maintenance, housekeeping, security, some meals, and programming

-Residents are responsible for contracting and paying for supportive care on their own; care isn’t included in their entrance fee or monthly rent.

-Independent living communities may be designed as multiple buildings spread out on large campuses, with a central gathering area for programming and meals. Spaces, including apartments, are often larger, and there is often greater distance to travel between buildings.


Both assisted and independent living communities offer older adults the opportunity to form social relationships, pursue hobbies and interests, and remain active. Hebrew SeniorLife offers a range of options depending on your or your loved one’s goals and care needs and can help you assess which is best.

Tara Fleming Caruso, MA, LMHC's picture

About the Blogger

Collaborative Care Advisor at NewBridge on the Charles

Tara serves as the collaborative care advisor for the NewBridge campus, making her an important resource for each of our residents and their families. Tara helps each senior moving to NewBridge both understand and access the variety of supports our continuum of care offers so each can live their best life possible. Tara brings almost 25 years of elder care experience to this role, including developing an expressive therapy program in a skilled nursing facility, serving as a program manager at a dementia-specific assisted living, and working at NewBridge on the Charles since 2009. She is a...

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