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What Is the Difference between Senior Living & Assisted Living?

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A group of active seniors smiling after a morning exercise outdoors

As people age, their housing needs may change. Senior living and assisted living are two options that may be available to older adults, but they are not the same thing. 

Senior living refers to housing options designed specifically for older adults. Assisted living is a type of senior living that provides additional support and care services to residents who need assistance with daily living tasks.

What Is Senior Living?

Senior living refers to housing options designed specifically for older adults. These housing options may include independent living communities, retirement communities, active adult communities, and other senior-focused housing options.

Senior living communities are often age-restricted and may offer a range of amenities and services tailored to the needs and preferences of older adults. These may include fitness centers, social activities, transportation services, and on-site medical care. 

Residents in senior living communities may live independently or receive some assistance with daily tasks or memory support. The goal of senior living is to provide older adults with a comfortable and supportive environment so they can enjoy their retirement years.

Independent living in senior communities is for older adults who can care for their own needs and still live independently by completing most daily activities without assistance. However, they can still benefit from the added services and amenities in a community setting. 

The level of care provided can vary depending on the community and the needs of an older adult. Independent senior living is for older adults who:

  • Don’t need additional care 
  • Want a maintenance-free lifestyle
  • Don’t require everyday meal preparation services
  • Seek social engagement
  • Want more free time

Senior living for older adults supports the opportunity to live in a community of peers and enjoy various amenities and services designed specifically for their needs and preferences. 

A close-up of a hand of a female assistant giving water to a senior, a senior man is drinking water using a straw.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is for older adults who need additional support, such as with activities of daily living (ADLs), but wish to maintain their independence. Help with daily living activities can include bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, and getting around. 

It can also provide personal care services, such as meal preparation and medication management, and typically has staff available to assist residents when needed. Assisted living is for older adults who:

  • Can benefit from maintenance-free living 
  • Feel socially isolated 
  • Have difficulty keeping up with daily hygiene
  • Have injuries or physical challenges that get in the way of day-to-day activities

Amenities and services in assisted living can include the following:

  • On-site medical clinics
  • Spa services and facilities 
  • In-house theater
  • Beauty salons and barbershops
  • Transportation
  • Concierge services
  • Pool
  • Game rooms 
  • Fitness center
  • Art studio
  • Library and computer facilities
  • Cafes
  • Courtyard, garden, walking paths
  • Staffing 24/7 
  • Daily check-ins
  • Emergency alerts

The goal of assisted living is to help residents maintain their independence as much as possible while also providing them with the support and care they need to live safely and comfortably.

Memory Care

Memory care is a specialized type of assisted living that provides additional support and care services to residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Memory care in senior living communities provides a safe and supportive environment for older adults with memory impairment and cognitive issues.

Memory care communities typically offer various services and amenities to help residents with memory impairments live as independently as possible. These may include assistance with activities of daily living, meal services, medication management, housekeeping, and social activities.

Memory support is for older adults who:

  • Struggle with dementia or Alzheimer’s symptoms
  • Can’t live safely in their home
  • Require more care 
  • May danger themselves or others

In addition, memory care communities often have specific design features that help residents navigate their environment safely and comfortably, such as secure entrances and exits, clearly marked hallways, and specially designed living spaces. 

Boutique-Style Senior Living 

Senior living and assisted living are two options available to older adults that differ in the level of care and support provided. While senior living communities have an independent lifestyle option, assisted living provides additional care and support for those who require help with daily tasks.

When looking for a senior community, it’s important to carefully evaluate all options to determine which one best meets the needs and preferences of a loved one. Contact Distinctive Living if you have questions about our community. 

Written by Lisa Rogers

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