What is the difference between independent and assisted living?

Independent living (housing) is also sometimes called supportive living or housing. It generally means that there are meals available in the facility, as well as recreation, light housekeeping once a week and an emergency call system. The meal plan may be one meal a day up to all three or some variation. There is no personal care available at this level of housing.

Assisted living provides the same services as independent/supportive living, but there is also personal care available. These services will include personal laundry, help with bathing, help with dressing, medication reminders. There may be a nurse supervising the care provided, but there is no nursing care available. Assisted living is often regulated by the province in which it is found and they must adhere to the standards of those regulations. If you are looking at Assisted Living, ask about how it is regulated in your province, and who the regulator or regulating office is.

In the private system, you may find housing that has both options available. You could go in not needing help, but if your abilities decline, then you can buy extra services as you need them. The charges may be determined on a pay by the service plan, or by the amount of help you need in terms of time. When looking at seniors housing, always ask if they have these options, and what additional costs may be. Also be sure to ask at what point they would determine that your needs are great enough so that they can no longer meet them, and would ask you to move. This is a real and frequent occurrence in Seniors Housing.

Peter Silin, MSW, RSW, CCC