Senior woman smiling and enjoying a hot drink

What Is the Difference Between Independent and Assisted Living?

If you’re exploring your senior living options, you’ll discover there are different types of communities designed for different needs.

Two of the most common are independent living and assisted living. Some people find themselves using these terms interchangeably, but they actually mean very different things. 

Independent living communities are designed for older adults who can still live on their own and who don’t require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, bathing or eating. Assisted living offers a place for those who do need help with ADLs but who do not require skilled nursing care. 

Let’s take a closer look at these two very different types of senior communities.

Independent Living

Even for people who can still live independently, staying in a singlefamily home over the long term can become more of a hassle as the years go by. Routine maintenance and repairs become more burdensome, and you may find it harder to socialize with others close to your age. 

Independent living communities, also called retirement communities or senior apartments, offer a great alternative. As the name implies, independent living is the least restrictive senior living option. Residents have easy access to engaging social opportunities, lots of amenities and convenient services in a friendly atmosphere. 

Private apartments often include one- or two-bedroom units with beautiful living areas and kitchens for those who still enjoy cooking. Housekeeping service is provided, so you can enjoy living in your apartment instead of doing chores all the time. 

Residents enjoy a full calendar of social activities and group outings. Onsite restaurants provide a wonderful place to enjoy delicious meals and good conversation with neighbors. Other community features include fitness centers and exercise classes, laundry service and barber and beauty salons. Transportation is available for shopping, entertainment and doctor visits. 

Assisted Living

Assisted living is a ideal for seniors who need some help with ADLs but don’t require skilled nursing care. As with independent living, residents also have an interest in meeting new friends and participating in activities they enjoy. Assisted living communities may also be called adult congregate care or residential care facilities. 

Caregivers are on hand around the clock to provide help with dressing, grooming, using the restroom and other daily activities. Residents may also receive assistance with managing chronic conditions, taking medications and scheduling and going to doctor visits. Full-time medical staff are onsite at all times, such as Registered Nurses, nursing assistants and physicians. All are trained to respond to medical emergencies if needed. 

Assisted living communities typically feature apartment-style units with private bedrooms and bathrooms and attractive living areas. Some units also include small kitchens. Housekeeping and laundry services are provided. 

Although residents may require help with some things, they often still enjoy some independence with other activities. With that in mind, many assisted living communities offer amenities that are similar to those found in independent living. Residents have access to organized social activities including fitness classes and transportation to shopping and entertainment. Delicious, healthy meals are served in restaurant- or cafeteria-style dining areas. 

Some assisted living communities also include memory care units for residents with cognitive issues. These areas will feature added safety and security measures, such as secured entryways, security cameras and apartments without kitchens. 


At the Terrace Retirement Community, we offer an independent lifestyle for active seniors age 62 and older. Residents enjoy the freedom to do what they love without the hassle of doing chores. 

If you’d like to request an information packet or schedule a visit, give us a call at 573-875-2538 or contact us online at any time.

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