What’s the difference? Independent Living, Assisted Living & Memory Care

Senior communities

There are a handful of aspects to check when selecting a senior living community. You have to figure out different financial options and services, as well as the questions to ask during community tours. 

In this long list of things to explore, there is one task you should start with: Understanding the categories of senior living. What is the difference between independent and assisted living? What if my parent has dementia? What if I’m in good physical and mental health but don’t want to be alone in my large home?

While independent living, assisted living, and memory care all fall under the umbrella term “senior living,” each is meant for people with different physical and cognitive abilities.


The Wellshire Lincolnshire Independent Living Community

What is Independent Living?

As the name suggests, independent living is for seniors who are still able to live without much assistance from others. Independent living communities vary in their structures, ranging from subdivisions to apartment complexes, with a plethora of options in between.

Who are Independent Living Facilities Good For?

Seniors in good health who want to alleviate the responsibilities of owning a home and live in a community of friends and colleagues their own age. Residents are typically active.

What services and amenities tend to be included?

Independent living facilities tend to have organized day trips and activities. Many have dining options included, but others have full-service, in-unit kitchens that allow seniors to host their own dinner parties. Community and gathering areas are quite standard.


Belmont Village Senior Living Buffalo Grove Assisted Living Community

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is what people most typically think of when they hear “nursing home.” Today, they are much nicer than what’s commonly believed. Residents receive varied amount of assistance with day-to-day activities and living. Trained staff, including nurses, are usually available 24/7.

Who are Assisted Living Communities Good For?

These communities are good for seniors who are not able carry out daily lives completely on their own. This can vary from only needing help with some tasks to relying more heavily on the trained staff due to physical health problems and general aging.

What services and amenities tend to be included?

Room types range from private studios and apartments to shared rooms. Rooms tend to have full bathrooms and a living room or relaxation space. Some have small kitchenettes. More often than not, there is group dining in a community dining room or bistro.

Typically, assisted living communities offer transportation to doctors’ appointments and group outings. Many also have on-site or nearby medical clinics and additional medical options such as physical therapy.


Alden Gardens & Courts of Des Plaines Memory Care Community

What is Memory Care?

Memory care communities or neighborhoods within larger communities are for people with memory-loss conditions. These communities give specialized care for the full-spectrum of symptoms related to memory-loss.

Who is Memory Care Good For?

Those with any memory-loss condition. This ranges from dementia to Alzheimer’s disease.

What services and amenities tend to be included?

Memory care communities are specially designed to minimize the risk of elopement, which is wandering away. They are often designed with secured courtyards and gathering places such as TV rooms.

The type of care is specialized and includes high-trained nurses and other staffs. Care includes assisting residents eating, dressing, and bathing. Staff guides activities that are specially designed for adults with memory-loss conditions.

Both private and shared rooms can be found, as are private and shared bathrooms. Rooms are all designed with safety of the resident in mind, and security of the residence is a priority.

Now you know that the term senior living encompasses a wide-range of offerings. With this knowledge, you can begin your search in the correct category on LivingPath.

Still have questions? Use the comments section to let us know what questions you want answered in our weekly blog posts. 

2 thoughts on “What’s the difference? Independent Living, Assisted Living & Memory Care

  1. There is a world of a difference between home care and assisted living facility for seniors. However, seniors feel more comfortable aging at home where they can live freely and remain independent. Thanks for sharing the blog.

    1. Thanks for the comment. We agree that for most seniors, aging at home is where many seniors feel most comfortable. However, many situations do not allow for the correct care at home. It is – of course – a very individual decision for each senior and his or her family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.