Understanding Independent and Assisted Living Facilities

Choosing the best long-term living solution for an older adult can be one of the most challenging questions a family will face.

While remaining at home and bringing support into the household through home health care is often seen as the least disruptive solution to this question, some seniors instead choose to move into specially-designed communities meant to cater to the needs of older adults.

This blog will discuss the two most common types of senior communities, Independent Living (IL) facilities and Assisted Living (AL) facilities.

Independent Living VS Assisted Living

The main question families must ask when considering Independent Living (IL) and Assisted Living (AL) facilities is the level of day-to-day assistance their loved one will need. IL facilities are the least restrTwo ladies pruning a treeictive and offer the least in-home assistance, while AL facilities include additional support in day-to-day activities.

Living Spaces

Independent Living facilities offer private residences in the form of apartments, townhouses or small standalone houses with full kitchens built around a community area or building where residents can socialize. Like other types of planned communities, these facilities often have amenities like laundry rooms, gyms and activity areas on premises.

Assisted Living facilities typically take the form of apartments to make bringing services into the home more efficient and do not always have a kitchen in each unit. AL facilities may also have specialized wings for residents with more involved needs, like memory care facilities for those with cognitive impairment.

Because a senior’s needs may change over time, some facilities will combine both IL and AL services into a single campus, called a Continuing Care Retirement Community, which allows a resident to upgrade their level of service as needed without a major move.

Amenities and Care Services

Independent Living facilities offer conveniences designed to eliminate day-today inconveniences, like laundry, on-site dining, housekeeping, landscaping, and maintenance, but stop short of providing assistance with personal tasks like bathing or medication management.

Assisted Living facilities include services offered at IL facilities, as well as more hands-on assistance with daily living activities like bathing, dressing, and managing medication. These facilities will also typically have at least one medical professional (usually a nurse practitioner) on call around the clock in the event of an emergency. Most AL facilities do not include intensive hands-on care or skilled nursing services.

Both types of facilities offer recreation schedules with activities based on the residents’ abilities and interests on-site, as well as field trips and transportation to local shopping centers.


Rent and utilities make up the core costs of AL facilities, but pricing for AL and IL facilities vary significantly based on location and amenities offered.

Payment for these facilities may fall under an all-inclusive structure, which simplifies billing, or a pay-as-you-go structure where residents pay a base rent, as well as any additional services like meal plans, housekeeping or laundry services.

If a resident needs additional in-home assistance, these facilities will typically allow residents to hire in-home care assistance in the form of home health aides, however these are paid independently from the AL or IL facility.

Paying for Independent Living (IL) and Assisted Living (AL) facilities

Because IL facilities do not include medical care, seniors cannot use Medicaid, Medicare, or long term care insurance to pay monthly fees. Instead, seniors will typically pay using social security benefits, pension income, annuities and other personal funds.

Unlike IL facilities, AL facilities offer medical care and thus can be paid for with a broader range of funds, including long term care insurance or Aid and Attendance benefits from the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Medicare will not pay for IL facility fees, however Medicaid funds can be used in some circumstances to cover costs.

SelectCare hopes this guide is helpful in guiding your family through the first steps of planning your or a loved one’s long-term aging plan. New York families have called on SelectCare to provide supportive services in Independent and Assisted Living facilities for more than 37 years.

If you wish to learn how SelectCare can assist your family, call SelectCare or request a free in-home care guide today.