A New Concept in Independent Living

Senior Living Levels of Care

Understanding Independent Living, Assisted Living, and Nursing Care

Advanced technologies and modern medicine have kept us alive longer than ever before. In fact, the average U.S. life expectancy is at an all-time high, approximately 78 years old. Consequently, senior living communities have become paramount in keeping elderly individuals healthy, active, and independent. The problem is that the average person is ill-informed on the differences between each level of care, leaving them confused on which community is suitable for their elderly loved one. Below is a deep dive into the differences between independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing. We hope this article helps make your search for senior care a little easier.

What is Independent Living?
Independent living is a form of senior housing where residents (age 55+) live independently and without extra help. The fundamental difference between independent living and higher levels of care is the senior living community does not offer assistance with activities of daily living or medical care. Hence, independent living residents are responsible for cooking meals, driving to doctor appointments, running errands, basic housekeeping, etc. At Prime West Knoxville, we have a designated dining area, serving up garden-fresh meals and snacks for our residents, making us unique from other independent living communities in East Tennessee.

Independent living communities come in many forms. Sometimes, they're apartment buildings, large sprawling subdivisions, groups of well-manicured townhomes, or even a wing of a larger continuum-care community. Independent living is also beneficial for seniors who suffer from social isolation. Many seniors live alone and do not have access to social outings with other people their age. By living with other seniors, your elderly loved one mitigates the risk of feeling isolated and alone.

Independent living communities often offer wonderful amenities and activities for their residents. At Prime Independent Living, we have fitness classes, religious services, a hydroponic garden, a hair & nail salon, aquatic treadmill, among other activities and amenities.

What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a level of care between independent living and skilled nursing. Assisted living offers its residents help with activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs range from assistance with bathing and grooming, housekeeping, basic chores, meal preparation, transferring and lifting, running errands, and medication management. Unlike nursing homes, assisted living communities do not offer medical services.

Similar to independent living, there are many services and amenities offered at most assisted living communities. It's not uncommon to find cooking classes, religious services, fitness classes, Wii sports, etc. Many assisted living facilities also offer alternative treatments such as art therapy and pet therapy. Outside excursions are often limited since many residents have mobility restrictions or memory loss. Assisted living houses residents in manageable apartments with private rooms. Some communities will offer two-bedroom apartments. There will usually be a dining hall and social areas for residents to congregate.

What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?
Nursing homes are best-suited to those with moderate-to-severe medical needs. That's because nursing homes are primarily staffed with RNs, LPNs, and experienced medical workers. On the spectrum of senior care, skilled nursing is considered the highest level of care.

Housing is one of the most significant differences between assisted and independent living communities. Most nursing homes offer residents a private or shared room instead of an apartment. As a result, living quarters in nursing homes are far smaller than those found in assisted and independent living communities. You also typically cannot move your furniture into a nursing home as you can in other senior living arrangements.

Choosing the Best Senior Community
Now that you're familiar with the differences between independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing homes, it's time to weigh your options. Choosing the best senior community might seem complicated, but you can simplify matters by paying close attention to:

  • Health care needs
  • Included services and amenities
  • Activities and interest

Consider Prime Independent Living
Hopefully, this guide has helped you better understand the different levels of senior care. If you're looking for an independent living community with plenty of amenities and on-site dining options, consider Prime West Knoxville. With one-bedroom and two-bedroom floorplans available, you're bound to find housing that suits your needs, preferences, and budget. Curious to learn more? If so, please get in touch with us today!

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1932 Falling Waters Road
Knoxville, TN 37922


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