Assisted Living versus Independent Living

These stories are both very common:

Mom lives at home on her own, and you (the caregiver) are starting to notice that she needs more help taking care of herself, cooking, and cleaning. On the opposite end of the spectrum, mom might be fully capable of taking care of her daily tasks; however, she may find it burdensome to keep up with utility bills, the cost of food, and home maintenance.

These two examples are representative of seniors who need to be in either assisted living or independent living communities. While example number one represents a senior who might need help bathing, dressing, or eating, the second example represents a senior who might be looking to downsize from her home and live in a community that better suits her needs.

So, how do you know which services are right for your parent?

It all starts with understanding what their needs are. It is also important to remember that assisted living and independent living communities offer two very different kinds of care with different costs and amenities. In this blog, we will discuss the breakdown.

Assisted Living:

Assisted living communities are for older adults who need help with activities of daily living, or ADLs. ADLs include getting dressed, bathing, toileting, and more personal care tasks. As people continue to age, they may begin to require help in some, if not all, of these areas. In many ways, elder care services may not suffice.

With that being said, services in residential care should not be confused with nursing home care. Nursing homes focus on skilled nursing care in a hospital-like setting. In assisted living communities, residents are provided with the certain level of care they need while also residing in a comfortable studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom apartment that they live in by themselves or share with another resident.

Assisted living communities provide various amenities for residents including transportation, restaurant-style dining, and more. Many older adults who qualify for assisted living just need help with daily activities as mentioned before, so these services do not need to be extravagant.

If you find that your parent can no longer live at home on their own, or you are no longer able to take care of said parent by yourself, assisted living might be the best option for her. It might also be an easier alternative to home care and personal care services. As always, continue to do your research to make sure you choose what is right for your parent’s needs.

Additionally, it is important to know how much it cost to live in an assisted living community. In a 2019 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, it is noted that the average monthly cost of assisted living in Texas is $3,515. To make this expense more affordable, be sure to look into long-term care insurance, as well as Veterans benefits if applicable.

Independent Living:

While assisted living communities provide residents with an extensive amount of care, this is not offered to residents in independent living communities. Seniors in these communities are usually able to manage their own medications and go to their own doctor’s appointments. That said, the one thing to note with independent living communities is this: they are designed to make things easier for older adults who want to remain living a healthy and active lifestyle.

As mentioned in the example at the beginning of this blog, these communities are intended for older adults who may want to not want to continue managing the upkeep that comes with owning a home.

Independent living communities are wonderful for seniors who want to live closer to those who are in their peer group. For instance, if mom has been living in her neighborhood for the past 15 years but has noticed that many of the seniors she knows have moved to independent living communities, she might consider making the transition as well.

In terms of amenities, independent living communities offer residents more options than what is typically found in assisted living communities. While these communities still include meals and housekeeping services, residents also have opportunities to participate in fun weekly events and outings both inside and outside of the community. They also come with kitchenettes for cooking.

The connection that residents have with staff is also vastly different from what is found in assisted living communities. Again, seniors often move into independent living communities not because they are physically incapable of living on their own, but because they want to make life simpler. This is also why many people refer to independent living communities as “retirement homes.”

Also, it is essential to understand how much independent living costs. According to SeniorHomes.com, the average monthly cost for independent living in Texas is $2,225. As you can see, the cost is substantially lower than that of assisted living; keep in mind that there are no LPNs (Licensed Practical Nurses) who help residents with ADLs.

Furthermore, it is important to understand how to pay for independent living. A few options include personal funds, annuity payments, housing assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and Social Security benefits and pensions (AgingCare). Because independent living does not provide residents with any sort of care, long-term care insurance does not apply here.

Helping your parent choose the best option

It all comes down to this: You should help your parent decide which option is best for their needs right now. Do not hesitate to look into different caregiving resources to help with this decision.

If you are unsure what route they need to be on (say, you are a long-distance family caregiver who only sees mom once every few months), schedule an appointment with their doctor. They should be able to tell you if your parent should live on their own, or not.

Try your best to understand where your parent is coming from if they are hesitant to move into an assisted living or independent living community. Many seniors are comfortable with where they live and the routine they have, even if it may cause them more difficulties. Have an open conversation about these options and why they could be great for your parent overall.

Let us know in the comments if this information helped you, and if you have more questions about the difference between assisted living and independent living. Also, make sure you request a tour with us here at Royal Estates of El Paso.

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