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Retirement Communities: Independent vs. Assisted Living

Retirement communities that offer independent living and assisted living are excellent choices. They provide independence and – in the case of assisted living – just the right amount of daily assistance depending on your needs and interests. But which one is the right one for you or your loved one? Here is a look at what retirement communities offer and the differences between independent and assisted living.

Retirement communities: resort-like living

If you or your loved one is interested in living in an environment of fun, freedom and opportunity, it’s best to explore retirement communities and discover what they offer.

The overall atmosphere of many retirement communities is wellness and achieving greater longevity. At Carroll Lutheran Village, our award-winning wellness program, Flourish, includes several dimensions to help activate the mind, energize the body and lift the spirit. Those dimensions include:

  • Intellectual: Learning new things so your or your loved one’s mind can stay active and sharp. Uncovering your or your loved one’s creativity and awakening new curiosity in the world.
  • Social: Enjoying the many mental, emotional and physical benefits of engaging with people you or your loved one enjoys; making new friends; and cultivating longstanding relationships.
  • Physical: Staying on the path to healthy aging by keeping active and strong. Having access to dining options designed to satisfy both nutritional needs and discerning appetites.
  • Spiritual: Remaining true to the values and beliefs that provide purpose in your or your loved one’s life.
  • Vocational: Making a positive difference in the world by sharing your or your loved one’s talent and wisdom with others.
  • Emotional: Finding more ways to maintain a strong self-image and positive attitude while facing life and its stressors.

It all comes down to easy living – a friendly and nurturing atmosphere that fosters active adult living and inspires lifelong opportunities for friendship and fun—without worries of home upkeep.

Retirement communities typically offer:

  • Fitness opportunities (e.g. fitness center, pool, tennis and croquet courts and classes)
  • Lifelong learning through classes and programs exploring a wide range of topics
  • Amenities such as an art studio, game rooms, woodworking shop, library, gardening areas, salon and spa, music room and much more
  • Housekeeping and exterior maintenance
  • On-site restaurants offering casual to fine dining experiences

Independent living: live life to the fullest

Independent living, according to Forbes Health, refers to living without the need for assistance while taking advantage of the community’s amenities and services. Retirement communities often offer a variety of floor plans for you or your loved one to choose the best fit. For example, Carroll Lutheran Village offers 24 floor plans ranging from large homes with garages and basements to one-bedroom studio apartments. Home and lawn maintenance as well as snow removal, are handled by the community – it’s what’s known as the maintenance-free lifestyle.

While enjoying the privacy and convenience that come with a comfortably sized residence that you or your loved one doesn’t have to care for – the community does that – leaves time for you or your loved one to spend the days as desired. You or your loved one can pursue current and new hobbies with others who have similar interests; exercise in the fitness center, pool, classes and other opportunities; enjoy on-site special events and trips to cultural attractions.

Assisted living: a bit of help for a better life

Assisted living neighborhoods in retirement communities offers apartment/studio style living and help with daily living activities (e.g. medication management, bathing, dressing) from trained teams. Care is meant to support, not replace, personal independence. Therefore, the amount of support provided is just enough for you or your loved one to remain as independent as possible while continuing to and enjoy an engaging, purposeful life and peace of mind.

In assisted living, you or your loved one can still enjoy all the services and amenities as experienced in independent living or choose the convenience of participating in activities and enjoying meals with neighbors in the assisted living neighborhood.

Health care services, including managing and supporting the early stages of progressive conditions (e.g. Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia) found in assisted living, are usually available 24 hours a day.

Assisted living typically offers:

  • Exercise and wellness programs
  • Social, recreational, spiritual activities
  • Housekeeping services
  • Three meals per day plus snacks
  • Comfortable residences with safety features
  • Transportation for scheduled appointments
  • Beauty salon and barber shop
  • Concierge
  • Opportunities for group outings

Retirement communities are focused on encouraging and supporting active aging. Gone are the days of sitting in a rocking chair with little to nothing to do. From convenient on-site services to activities that are good for the mind, body and spirit days can be spent as active as you or your loved one chooses. Depending on your or your loved one’s needs, independent living may be the better option over assisted living or vice versa.

Learn more about retirement communities from our blog post The Pros and Cons of Senior Living. However, the best way to determine if a retirement community is right fit is by touring them. You or your loved one will be able to see what life is like in those that are being considered as a new home. When you do visit them, be sure to take our questions-to-ask checklist with you.