Brightwater Blog

Return To Blog
Senior man and young woman looking at a book and smiling at each other.

How to Decide Whether Independent Living or Assisted Living is the Right Choice


The decision to move to a senior living community is primarily based on lifestyle, convenience, and care. Many modern senior living communities offer an amenity-rich, maintenance-free lifestyle akin to living at a fancy hotel, co-op community, or resort, complete with delicious dining options and lots of opportunities to socialize.

If you or a loved one are considering making the move to a senior living community and aren’t living with a memory loss illness, it’s probably not too difficult to find communities that align with the location and amenities you desire. However, trying to determine whether Independent Living or Assisted Living is the correct fit, can be more confusing. Ask yourself the following questions to help find the right level of care and support.

Do You Need Any Assistance Now?

Needing some daily assistance doesn’t automatically rule out Independent Living. If the need for assistance is limited and can be provided easily by a spouse or through a home care service, you or your loved one may still find that an Independent Living community is a great choice. Many communities offer this service for an additional fee or allow residents to contract with outside providers.

However, if you or your loved one require 24-hour assistance, the level of care necessary may be beyond the community’s offerings or be prohibitively expensive when contracting elsewhere. Many Independent Living communities also have limitations on the amount of care residents can receive within their building, due to licensing requirements or concerns for resident and staff safety.

Is Your Health Changing or Likely to Change In the Near Future?

If you or your loved one are mostly independent now but beginning to experience the effects of a degenerative or chronic disease, such as heart disease, macular degeneration, or diabetes, a move to Assisted Living may be the best choice. Assisted Living communities have the care and support in place to help you, as your needs begin to change. They also have the staff and knowledge to coordinate higher care, as needed, simplifying the process.

Is One of the People Moving the Caregiver for Their Spouse?

If you or your loved one needs extra assistance and a spouse is the primary caregiver, you may have a few options. Assuming your spouse is fully independent and your own needs aren’t likely to increase in the near future, Independent Living may be just fine. However, if your level of need is becoming more than your spouse can safely handle, you may want to consider a move to a senior living community that offers both Independent Living and Assisted Living services. This type of community has the staff and services in place to assist those who need extra help, while also being able to cater to fully independent residents through amenities and activities that will satisfy their interests.

What Does Your Doctor Think?

It’s never a bad idea to ask for an outside opinion. Does your doctor think your mobility and health make you a good candidate for Independent Living, or does she or he foresee a need for greater care in the near future? All seniors are very likely to need more assistance and care eventually, but if your level of need is likely to increase in a short amount of time, Assisted Living or a community that provides both Independent and Assisted Living may be the best choice, so you can age in place while maximizing your independence.

In summary, the best approach to making this important decision is to think about the future and what your needs may be in the coming months and years. Are you healthy, mobile, and unlikely to need a higher level of assistance anytime soon, or are you living with a chronic disease, have you had falls, or does your doctor have concerns about your safety? These questions will all help you find the right lifestyle option for you. To learn more about Independent Living and Assisted Living at Brightwater Senior Living, visit

Living Well