The Difference Between Care Types at Senior Living Communities

You know it’s time to start looking, but you’re overwhelmed by senior living care options for your loved one. Online searches have shown you that there is a lot of information, and you’re afraid you won’t find the right match. It’s understandable. Taking steps to find senior living for your loved one—or even for yourself—is stressful enough without having to go through volumes of information.

HubSpot Video


Understanding the different types of senior living care will help you decide which one is right. Here, we talk about three common senior living lifestyle options to give you an idea of what your loved one may need.

Top 3 Common Types of Senior Living

As you’ve searched for information, you’ve probably seen a number of terms and phrases that seem to all mean the same thing at first glance. Or you’ve realized that the same term can have a different meaning, depending on the state or the community. For example, it’s common for people to refer to all senior living options as “assisted living,” when assisted living is actually a care option within a senior living community, like memory care or independent living. 

Instead of adding to the confusion, let’s dive into the differences between the basic types of care and lifestyles for seniors. Your loved one may need one or more of these care types:

  • Assisted Living
  • Memory Care
  • Independent Living

Do you have questions about senior living lifestyle options? Start here. >>

Assisted Living

Most seniors value their independence, no matter what care level they need. Assisted living balances support with independence. Seniors in assisted living get the medical and other help they need for daily activities, while also enjoying new opportunities on their own, making new friends, and doing new things. 

Obviously, different people have different needs, and assisted living levels vary from patient to patient. Needs often grow as seniors age. Is assisted living right for your loved one? Ask some questions to determine if it’s the right choice, or if making that decision is a few more miles down the road. Is your loved one:

  • Having trouble with daily domestic tasks?
  • Not complying with prescribed medication?

There’s a wide range of amenities and services that assisted living may include. It can involve care types such as assistive, comprehensive, and medication management. Most senior living communities provide services like housekeeping, laundry, and included within the monthly cost of assisted living. 

Memory Care Senior Living

Memory care is similar to assisted living, but it provides special assistance for people with progressive memory loss, dementia, or other issues that may impact their memory. In senior living communities, residents who need memory care work with experts specifically trained in caring for individuals in varying stages of dementia and memory loss.

It’s reassuring that memory care in senior living communities takes care of a senior’s needs while providing resources to treat memory loss. Communities will often include additional security measures compared to standard assisted living communities, to prevent residents from wandering and winding up in a dangerous situation.

Does your loved one need memory care? Here are some signs that they might:

  • Behavior changes, such as mood swings
  • Confusion and disorientation, especially if it interferes with safety
  • Incontinence

An Important Note About Memory Care vs. Alzheimer’s Care 

You may hear the terms “memory care” and “Alzheimer’s care” used interchangeably, and it’s understandable. Alzheimer’s care is part of memory care—but memory care also addresses different types of dementia. If you are told that a community offers “Alzheimer’s care,” but your loved one has been diagnosed with mixed dementia, make sure the community has the resources your loved one needs. 

Independent Senior Living

Seniors who want to leave behind the complications and difficulties of homeownership love independent senior living. As a matter of fact, many seniors report that they lose stress and keep their own active lifestyles. It’s perfect for seniors who don’t need active levels of assistance but want a lifestyle with less maintenance. 

Independent living can provide grounds maintenance, housekeeping services, and more, while giving residents time to do the things they love instead. The independent living senior lifestyle option is great for seniors who:

  • Are still responsible for their daily activities, like managing medications
  • Enjoy a busy social schedule 
  • Love learning new things
  • Want to make new friends
  • Wish they had fewer chores and more fun
  • Are looking to downsize

Not sure which lifestyle option is right for you?Learn about your options and get personalized results in about 4 minutes.

Take the Quiz


Pet Perks at Senior Living Communities

We have to mention something very important—pets! 

Pets are family, especially for seniors who are living on their own. That’s why many senior living communities let residents bring their pets, no matter what lifestyle the senior needs. Pet policies vary by community, so be sure to understand pet policies if your loved one wants to bring along their furry best friend. 

An Important Note About Pet Policies

Typically, pet policies come with additional costs. If Cookie the mutt or Winky the cat are deal-breakers for your loved one, make sure that the community you choose will allow pets, and that the additional cost will fit into your monthly senior living budget. 

Get More Senior Living Answers

Now that you know a little more about senior living community lifestyles and care options, you probably have new questions. Take a deeper dive into each senior care living type in our new in our new Where to Start guide. You’ll get more details about assisted living, independent living, personal care, and memory care. Find out about amenities, services, staffing, who needs which type of lifestyle, and more. 


Ready to see the community?

Schedule a Tour

LifeStyle_800x800-1 1