St. Anthony's Senior Living

Independent Living vs. Assisted Living: What’s the Difference?

While everyone would prefer to maintain as much freedom and autonomy as possible as they age, some seniors may require extra care and support to thrive. Both independent living and assisted living are options for seniors that provide a comfortable, relaxed lifestyle that takes away some of the chores and responsibilities of everyday adult life.

But despite these similarities, the two senior living options are very different! If you’re considering independent living or assisted living in Kansas City, let’s start by taking a look at the major differences between the two lifestyles so you can better determine what is best for you or your loved one.


What is Independent Living?

Independent living is an option offered at many senior living communities like St. Anthony’s. It allows older adults to downsize their lives and enjoy the comforts of senior living, without support managing daily care activities like mobility or personal care.

An independent living resident can still cook most of their meals or own a car and come and go as they please. However, they can also leave tedious chores, like landscaping or household maintenance, to St. Anthony’s. In addition, they’re welcome to attend various events and activities around the building. Think of it as on-campus college life for older adults — but with spacious apartments instead of dorm rooms and no homework required!


What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is for seniors who find activities of daily living (ADLs) challenging and require the support of trained staff to live comfortably. Assisted living residents may have one or more difficulties for which they require care, so trained staff will work closely with them and their loved ones to curate a care plan that meets their needs and gives them as much autonomy as possible. 

Assisted living services may include:

  • Dining support
  • Mobility assistance
  • Help changing clothes and bathing
  • And/or incontinence care


Independent Living vs. Assisted Living: Five Key Differences

While some of the differences should already be obvious when comparing the descriptions of independent living and assisted living, there are still some other important differences to keep in mind when considering senior living care options. Here are five you should know about:


1. Level of Care

The most significant difference between independent living and assisted living is the care provided! A resident of independent living should be able to bathe, dine, maintain good hygiene, and move around without any assistance. In contrast, an assisted living resident may have various physical or mental challenges that mean they require extra help.

In some cases, an independent living resident may begin struggling with a particular aspect of life, like mobility or needing help with medications, but still be able to remain in their current apartment with a little extra care included. That’s one of the perks of making the move to senior living earlier — things will be much easier and more familiar if the time comes for you to transition to assisted living.


2. Apartment Amenities

Another major difference between independent living and assisted living is the apartments. At St. Anthony’s, both senior living options come with very spacious apartments and oversized bathrooms designed with safety and comfort in mind, but the layouts and appliances differ.

Independent living apartments come with one to two bedrooms and one or one and a half bathrooms. The apartments vary in size from 600 to 1110 square feet. Every apartment has a fully equipped kitchen, a stacked washer and dryer, and a cozy fireplace!

Assisted living apartments are a bit smaller and designed to better accommodate increased care needs. Most apartments are around 384 square feet and have a small kitchenette for enjoying snacks between meals. For residents with a spouse in assisted living, we have our 678-square-foot “Guardian Angels” apartment option that has two bedrooms and a larger living area. Neither apartment includes laundry machines because this service is included with assisted living.


3. Life Enrichment Activities

Both independent living and assisted living at St. Anthony’s have fun-filled activity calendars that change every month to give residents plenty of excitement and socializing. These activities are designed to be accessible and meet the needs of the residents based on their senior living lifestyle, which is why each senior living option has a different activities calendar.

Independent living residents have the flexibility to make their own schedules both on and off campus. Still, many of them enjoy attending happy hour together after mass or creating their own clubs with fellow residents.

Assisted living residents are provided with activities that balance fun and relationship-building with valuable physical and mental exercises to keep their minds and bodies strong. These activities may include crafts, bible studies, movie nights, chair exercises, and more!


4. Dining Experience

Independent living residents at St. Anthony’s have 20 meals each month included in their rent. They can choose when to redeem these five-star meals at St. Elizabeth’s Bistro at their leisure and use their own kitchens to cover the rest! For residents who are tired of cooking meals, we always give the option to purchase more meals on top of the included 20.

All three meals are included daily in assisted living and enjoyed together in family-style dining. This makes it easy for our caregivers to be around during mealtimes and provide support while taking the burden of cooking off our residents who may have difficulty managing it.


5. Ability to Live Independently

Above all, what determines whether a resident chooses independent living or assisted living is how easily they can manage daily life independently. No senior living lifestyle is better than the other, it’s simply about the care they need to live a comfortable and happy life!


Choosing Your Senior Living Lifestyle

If you or your loved one are considering senior living in Kansas City, choosing the right lifestyle is simple when you consider what would help you enjoy your days! It may be difficult to admit if you need a little extra support compared to the independent spirit you have always been, but getting the right amount of care is very freeing and will help you to feel more confident!

Whether you’re ready to embrace easy living or need better daily support, St. Anthony’s has options for you. Contact us to learn more and come tour our beautiful home!