Independent vs. Assisted Living: The Best Option for Your Aging Loved One

by Anne B. Robinson

If you have an aging loved one, or if you’re a senior citizen yourself, it’s time to start thinking about future living arrangements. Staying in one’s own home may not be the best option for all elderly individuals, but it can be for some.

Many senior citizens are perfectly capable of independent living, but some may have certain conditions that prevent this or make this option unsafe. Here are some of the options that come with independent living and assisted living.

Independent Living Options

Aging in Place

This refers to an elderly person staying in their home, as opposed to moving into assisted living. Most senior citizens prefer to remain in their own homes, and those who age in place tend to have the best quality of life, compared to their peers in other living situations. However, a senior’s home must be made into a safe place to live to prevent any injuries— especially if they live alone. Some examples of these home improvements include:

  • Bathroom renovations
  • Installing a chair lift on the steps
  • Lowered countertops (for those in wheelchairs)

Moving in With Family

If you have an aging loved one, another option is to move them in with you. This option prevents them from moving into assisted living, and can also give you peace of mind knowing that they aren’t living alone. You may still need to do some renovations to ensure that your home is safe for them.

For everyone in your home to be comfortable, make sure you have enough space in your home before moving your aging loved one in. They should definitely have their own room and their own bathroom if possible. This allows them to retain a great level of independence, as well as comfort.

Active Adult Communities

These are neighborhoods whose specific purpose is to house those over the age of 55. This is similar to aging in place, but these homes are already built with the safety of senior citizens in mind so that they can live fully independently. So that means that those who may need some assistance with daily activities won’t receive the assistance they need with this type of living arrangement.

Senior citizens can live in homes, apartments, or condos, depending on the type of neighborhood. This living arrangement works for those who can’t afford renovations on their homes and/or their families live too far away. Being in a neighborhood like this allows seniors to also engage in social activities with their peers.

In recent years, the number of friendly lifestyle communities has increased so it shouldn’t be a challenge finding one for your loved ones.

Assisted Living Options

Retirement Homes

Retirement homes can be for older adults who are fully independent or for those who may need some assistance. Seniors can buy or rent a home/apartment in these retirement communities, and they’ll have access to housekeeping and transportation services when needed. This living arrangement gives seniors the socialization they need, access to assistance if needed, and the ability to remain independent— or as independent as they can be.

Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living facilities offer much more assistance than retirement homes. This living arrangement is best suited for those who have difficulty with more than one ADL (activity of daily living), which include:

  • Bathing and grooming
  • Dressing and undressing
  • Toileting and personal hygiene

This is even a good option for those in the early stages of dementia or other age-related conditions that may require specialized care, but are still able to maintain some level of independence and activeness.

Nursing Home

Nursing homes provide the most assistance out of all of the different types of assisted living facilities. These facilities are staffed with medical professionals equipped with the knowledge to care for seniors who have limited mobility and difficulty with many ADLs.

This living arrangement is best for those who need specialized care. Unfortunately, nursing homes have been associated with elder falls, abuse, and neglect— but they’re still the best living arrangement for those who need round-the-clock care. If your aging loved one needs specialized care, make sure to do your research to find the best nursing home.

In summary

Senior citizens can live independently if they can perform ADLs without any assistance and if the home they’re living in is safe and comfortable. Assisted living is necessary only if they need a great deal of assistance. This can vary in the level of care needed, so the appropriate facility should be chosen based on their needs. Just keep in mind that you should always do what is best for your aging loved ones’ safety and well-being.

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