Aging affects everyone differently. Some of us experience different health conditions from others, and we never know when these conditions will pop up in our lives. Due to this unpredictability, many older adults find navigating health care and accommodation decisions an intricate and confusing process. One of the most common decisions people have to make at this stage is whether or not to move from independent living to assisted living.
Independent Living vs Assisted Living: What’s the Difference?
Those who are less familiar with these terms may think that both are pretty similar, but there is actually a distinct difference between the two. Independent living is for older adults whose health conditions permit them to still care for themselves. These communities provide a holistic lifestyle, offering social events and activities, exercise classes, and carefully curated diets. The features address the physical and mental requirements of the residents, thereby enhancing their overall wellness.
On the other hand, whilst assisted living communities have these features as well, the primary purpose of the amenities provided is to relieve the burden of daily care tasks for older adults who can no longer bear that responsibility independently due to health conditions or other reasons. Residents in assisted living are not ill to the point of staying in a nursing home or hospital, but usually have health conditions that require regular monitoring. They also usually need help with tasks including but not limited to, bathing, dressing, continence, or housekeeping.
As each option offers different levels of care and types of amenities, the cost also differs. Cost is one of the biggest points of consideration for many potential and current residents. As of 2021 in the United States, the median monthly cost of independent living is $2,552 while the average monthly cost of assisted living is $4,500.
It is vital that you enquire about the individual costs of the different apartment sizes and services provided so that you will not get any surprises with hidden costs. Depending on the retirement community, some services are add-ons to the quoted flat rate, and certain costs may fluctuate monthly or annually. Another thing to consider is the location of the community as the senior living options are cheaper in some locations. For instance, assisted living in the Midwest and Southeast than in the Northeast.
Should You Move to Assisted Living?
Regardless of whether you are currently living independently or are in independent living, the rule of thumb is to evaluate yourself, and by that, we mean evaluating your physical and mental needs as well as your budget.
Some key questions you will need to ask yourself are:
- Will I be able to afford assisted living?
- Has my overall health condition or specific symptoms worsened of late? If yes, am I at risk without more dedicated care and assistance?
- Are your daily chores taking a mental toll on you?
If your answers to all the above are yes, then it is time for you to consider the move. However, there will certainly be more intricate considerations involved with this decision, so it would be wise to read up on the assisted living options offered in your area or your current retirement community to be entirely sure that assisted living will be the right choice for you.