Home | Blog | CareersFamily Owned & Operated by The Cottages Senior Living

Trying to choose the best senior living situation for a loved one living with early-stage Alzheimer’s or dementia can be very challenging. Two of the options that can be confusing to separate are independent living and assisted living. Both are designed to support seniors while fostering independence.

Here are some of the key differences between independent living and assisted living communities.

Services and Amenities

  • Assisted living provides around-the-clock care and assistance with basic life tasks as needed.
  • Independent living does not offer nursing support or medical care. In an independent living community, residents function almost entirely independently.

Supportive and Medical Care

  • In an assisted living community, memory care, medication management and medical appointment management are provided.
  • Independent living communities are designed for those seniors who manage daily living tasks independently and don’t require medical support.

Staff Access

  • Assisted living staff frequently monitor and check in on their residents and the resident’s family.
  • Independent living residents don’t necessarily have daily contact with staff unless they sign up for a specific service.


  • Assisted living cost may be higher but is more likely to be covered by health insurance like Medicaid or other long-term coverage.
  • Independent living communities tend to be less expensive than assisted living because these are geared towards lifestyle preference, but are unlikely to be covered by any type of insurance.

Family Involvement

  • Assisted living staff is available to manage residents’ daily care, even as their needs change. This helps to reduce the stress level and worry of the individual’s family. These communities work closely with the family to ensure the needs of their loved ones are being met.
  • Independent living ensures the senior is no longer isolated, but family members or caregivers must still be involved in the individual’s daily life care and health issues.

Continuum of Care

  • Assisted living communities are often connected to intensive memory care communities making transitions to a higher level of care much easier for senior loved ones.
  • Some independent living communities may be associated with assisted living communities, although it is uncommon. In most cases, as a senior living in an independent living community needs more intensive services, they may need to move to a new and unfamiliar environment as their needs progress.