Independent Living vs. Assisted Living

Seniors Aging in Place

Senior living communities have become very popular in recent years and offer older adults a low maintenance lifestyle combined with a bevy of wellness resources to stay healthy and active. Two of the most popular options are independent living communities and assisted living facilities. They’re similar in many ways but have key differences for you to consider when making a choice between the two.

Independent living is geared toward seniors who need little or no assistance with daily activities. These communities can be simply individual apartments or homes where their residents do their own housekeeping or cooking. Other independent living communities offer housekeeping, laundry, daily meals and an array of community activities, but still are geared toward residents that need little special care.

Assisted living facilities are usually set up with individual apartments, but meals, laundry, housekeeping, social activities, transportation services and 24 hour security or emergency medical services are all provided.

Independent living is just that-for folks that can live independently. In an assisted living facility, residents can receive assistance with bathing, dressing, or medication management.

The physical layout of an independent living facility is often a campus with homes and buildings connected by pathways with central community spaces such as social halls, restaurants, fitness centers, or swimming pools. An assisted living facility may also have paths, gazebos, and the like, but is usually designed with apartments and common areas all in one building.

When it comes to dining, independent living communities may offer 1 or 2 meals per day at best, or may have multiple dining options such as restaurants, sandwich shops, or pubs. In assisted living, the norm is 3 meals per day prepared by a chef with individuals’ medical and nutritional needs in mind. They may offer specialized diets for residents with specific dietary needs due to medical conditions.

Independent living communities are not considered a form of senior care. They are generally more affordable than assisted living, but none of the cost is covered by insurance. Assisted living costs can sometimes be partially or fully covered by long term care insurance or government benefits.

Family involvement is encouraged in both assisted and independent living communities. Family members can visit, share meals, and participate in activities with the residents.  As residents get older, they may need more attention from caregivers. When this becomes a burden to the family , assisted living staff can take over most of this responsibility.

Both independent and assisted living communities offer seniors a low maintenance lifestyle, luxury amenities, wellness resources and community involvement. All of these can boost seniors’ quality of life. The choice comes down to the general condition of the resident. For those who need more help, assisted living may be the best option.

For those who are looking for an active adult community, Cambridge Village offers retirement independent living at its finest. We’ve designed our active retirement communities in Raleigh, Apex, and Wilmington, North Carolina, to embody our Optimal Living® approach. . Our Optimal Living® approach is infused into every aspect of our 55+ communities in North Carolina—from our wellness and fitness offerings to our concierge care. If you would like more information about our communities, or if you’d like to schedule a tour, visit our website or give us a call at any of our locations:


10000 Cambridge Village Loop

Brier Creek

7901 TW Alexander Drive
Raleigh, NC 919-737-7000


75 Cavalier Drive
Wilmington, NC 910-756-4189