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Independent vs Assisted Living, Which Is Right for You?

independent vs assisted living

When your loved ones are ready to switch to alternative living arrangements, finding the proper retirement lifestyle for their needs can often seem challenging. There’s also the common misconception that moving into a retirement community involves giving up certain freedoms and implementing restrictions on older adults’ lives. On the other hand, some people tend to be concerned that independent and assisted living conditions won’t be able to accommodate special needs and requirements, or you’ll choose the wrong option for yourself or a loved one.

But the fact of the matter is that older persons that join retirement communities enjoy access to a newfound level of independence. Depending on the community, your loved ones are likely to maintain the same quality of life and freedom they’ve always had, even with unique needs requiring assistance. Seasons team members are here to help. They are happy to answer any questions you may have and assess which level of care is most appropriate based on each person’s situation.

Here at Seasons Retirement, we offer different types of living and care programs to suit the needs of older adults to help them live their ideal retirement lifestyle. We understand the need to learn more about similar distinctions in living situations for older adults, such as our article on the difference between retirement homes and nursing homes.

Let’s go over the details of independent living vs. assisted living, including a complete overview of each category and its features & benefits.

What is Independent Living?

To start with the question, “what is independent living” is a retirement option that, as the name suggests, is perfect for individuals who want to maintain their independence while enjoying the benefits of a community. It’s a fantastic choice for older adults who want to experience an active and relaxed lifestyle where they maintain autonomy while still having access to assistance if and when needed.

Many readers considering retirement options for their loved ones often wonder why independent living is necessary if residents make their own decisions and choices regarding their lifestyle. It’s important to consider the benefits of having additional support, resources, and helpful staff trained to assist residents if they ever require it. You’re sure to be much more comfortable knowing that your loved ones can rely on their neighbours and service team members in independent living communities.

What is Assisted Living?

When considering independent living vs. assisted living, you’ll notice that they’re very similar at first glance. Assisted living arrangements also allow residents to maintain their independence, with the added exception of additional care and services options as needed. For those older adults that want or require support with daily needs such as meals, medication, bathing, and more, assisted living is an excellent option to consider to ensure your loved ones get the extra care they deserve.

But what is assisted living in Ontario like, you might ask. As one of Canada’s most populated provinces, assisted living in Ontario comes with all the standard benefits of assisted living arrangements, with the added benefit of providing a welcoming and understanding environment for various cultures and living styles.

You’ll also have a variety of idyllic locations to choose from when looking for a good place for your loved ones to settle in. Check out our article on some of the best small towns to live in Ontario to go over some of the options – Seasons Retirement has locations at many of these locations, so you can always get access to the best independent and assisted living arrangements in Ontario with us.

Differences Between Assisted and Independent Living

1.    Contact and Access to Staff

Independent living communities have staff access at all times but can enjoy privacy without continuous supervision. They’ll always be able to contact someone if they require assistance or in case of emergencies. Ultimately, the level of contact or access to staff members in independent living communities depends on the resident’s preferences.

With assisted living, staff play a more active role in being present and assisting residents when required. They pay closer attention to their resident’s needs and may proactively reach out to offer their help or reach out to family members for a consultation about specifics.

Depending on whether your loved one values independence and privacy or if they enjoy the social aspect of interacting with staff, you can make an educated choice between independent vs. assisted living.

2.    Continuum of Care

Older adults residing in assisted living homes may require additional support, such as fitness checkups by a staff member, assistance with bathing, shopping, cooking, and more. As a result, the staff that work at assisted living communities are more involved and attentive to specific needs and requirements of their residents at all times.

In contrast, residents living in independent living homes will have access to the same level of additional care and support. Still, the level of assistance provided will be adjusted to their residents’ preferences. Since many older adults who reside in independent living communities require little assistance to live long and healthy lives, services and care is usually offered on an as-needed basis.

3.    Cost

Both living options prioritize the healthcare of older adults. However, since assisted living communities offer more extensive care on a more regular basis, their costs might be higher than average compared to independent living.

The focus of independent living options is on lifestyle preferences rather than care for older adults. Hence, there’s a chance they may be excluded from insurance policies and government benefits for retirement living.

You can use our retirement home cost calculator to help you calculate the costs of independent vs. assisted living arrangements. Regardless of your choice, with Seasons Retirement, you’ll find that we’re committed to delivering meaningful moments and the best lifestyle conditions for our residents.

4.    Family Involvement

There’s no specific standard for family members’ involvement when deciding between independent living vs assisted living communities. That being said, there tend to be some noticeable trends that speak to differences in resident lifestyle choices.

Older adults who join assisted living communities don’t necessarily require significant family involvement. However, it is quite possible to remain involved in any care decisions and choices made for your loved ones in these scenarios.

Since most assisted living staff have been trained and prepared to provide all the necessary care and support their residents will need, family members can rest assured that their loved ones are in good hands.

Family members usually play a more active role in counseling and advising their loved ones on care decisions for individuals who opt for independent living. Since residents are more independent and make their own decisions about care, the staff will respect their wishes regarding needs and arrangements.

However, like with assisted living, family members are free to remain as involved as they wish to be and can communicate with their loved ones to make any major decisions.


Comparing independent living vs assisted living shows subtle but essential differences between the two types of residential arrangements.

Regardless of the option you find best for you or your loved ones, Seasons Retirement can ensure our residents achieve the type of lifestyle they wish to pursue. We provide various retirement living options to meet our residents’ diverse and changing needs.

If you’d like to learn more about the differences or have further questions about the best choice for you, reach out to us here for assistance.

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