The terms and phrases used to describe senior care seem so interchangeable; it can be difficult to distinguish between your options. Independent seniors in need of a new home often find themselves lost in deciding between assisted living, retirement homes, and senior apartments. Independent living is a term used to describe a major step in care in which seniors leave their family homes in order to simplify living or receive assistance. Choosing between your options comes down to what services are needed and how independent someone prefers to live.


Senior Apartments

Often called 55+ communities, senior apartment facilities are seemingly identical to any other apartment complex. Individual apartments are outfitted with bedroom, living room, dining area, kitchen, and bathroom. Amenities also reflect typical apartment living with pools, tennis courts, fitness centers, and well-maintained grounds. Security ranges from gated access and security cameras to patrolling security personal. The fees typically include all utilities, maintenance, available activities, and access to amenities. Additional services may include transportation, housekeeping, and grocery delivery. These homes are ideal for self-sufficient seniors with minimal health concerns looking to escape the frustration of maintaining a full household.

Senior apartments relieve seniors that are tired of managing household expenses and the cost of home maintenance. Most are pet-friendly and have minimal restriction on visits from family or friends. Unlike assisted living, housekeeping and laundry services are rarely provided; laundry machines are often on-site or offered in the apartment. There are minimal services in general, compared to assisted living facilities. Many senior apartments do not offer medication management, meal services, or on-site healthcare.  Apartments can cost anywhere between $750 and $3,000 a month, depending on size, amenities, location, and services needed.


Assisted Living

Similar to senior apartments, assisted living caters to independent seniors but provides more services and assistance. Accommodations are often similar to senior apartments, providing private residences for seniors with options for shared rooms or bathrooms.  Assisted living tends to offer more advanced amenities with full gyms and more areas for hobbies, socializing, or entertainment.  Seniors in need of help with housework or personal care are a perfect fit as caregivers are readily available to provide services and companionship whenever needed.

Assisted living balances independent living with high-quality senior care by providing essential services and streamlining healthcare management. These facilities commonly provide medication services, appointment scheduling, and daily transportation, as well as on-site nurses and care specialists. Unlike senior apartments, assisted living facilities typically employ a recreation or activity organizer. Seniors can begin their morning with fitness exercises, enjoy workshops throughout the day, and enjoy fun events in the evening.  Assisted living also offer more in terms of specialty care, senior apartments do not commonly offer accommodations for short-term stays or those with memory-related conditions.


Contrary to popular belief, choosing a senior care option is not a lifelong decision. Senior care communities represent a continuum of care, catering to seniors as their ability to live independently declines. Seniors can choose an apartment until their daily needs increase and assisted living is a more viable option. They can choose to relocate to retirement communities for an active social life while always consider a nursing home, in case of serious illness of injury. Regardless of your personal situation, there is a senior care choice out there for everyone!


Learn more about assisted living and other healthcare options at the main Assisted Living page or the main Caregiving page.

Want to get more helpful tips? Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.


About the Author: Victoria K. Stickley is a copywriter, editor, and senior content manager based in the Dallas area. Her graduate education in counseling and research has helped immensely in her writing as well as the care she provides for her grandparents. She currently provides support and resources to senior care websites as she learns and experiences senior care first-hand.