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How Assisted Living Differs from Other Levels of Care

We are fortunate to live during a time when we have many options for how we would like to live as we grow older. And if you still feel living alone or with your spouse in a private residence is your only option to stay out of a nursing home, an assisted living or memory care community may be a good option. There are senior apartments and supportive living communities that provide comfortable, engaging accommodations along with different levels of support to allow you to live the life you want to live.

Many adults over 55 are active, independent individuals, while others need or would like basic assistance with everyday tasks through assisted living. Then there are those who need specialty care, such as assistance with memory impairments like Alzheimer’s, in order to live their best lives.

The type of care and senior living community that’s best for you will depend on your individual needs. While this article will mainly focus on comparing assisted living to memory care and independent living, it’s important to know all of your options.

Types of Supportive Living

There are six main types of support or lifestyles that adults can choose from as their needs change. The specific features offered in each can vary and there are a few other options out there, but these are the most popular choices for aging adults.

  1. In-Home Healthcare: ideal for those that want to remain at home and are still largely independent.
  2. Independent Living: this arrangement is meant to allow you to enjoy the comforts of home while in an environment full of exciting new experiences and without the burden of homeownership.
  3. Assisted Living: designed for when you still value your independence but need a little support for activities of daily living, or ADLs.
  4. Memory Care: specialty care for adults with memory impairments like dementia.
  5. Nursing Homes: full-time care for those with more serious medical needs, such as rehab or wound care.
  6. Palliative Care and Hospice: focuses on providing relief for those who are terminal or need end-of-life care.

Independent Living: The First Step

When you’re seeking a community of adults that are your age and you’re ready to cut back on the responsibilities of homeownership, independent living is an ideal first step.

Independent living offers transportation services, up to three meals a day, weekly housekeeping, social events and occasionally will even provide help with ADLs. Some of these services do come at an extra cost and are optional. These communities are sometimes referred to as 55+ communities, senior apartments, retirement villages, or retirement communities. Both singles and couples can live in independent living communities. Most of the time, you’ll be paying out of pocket. Costs range from $1,500 to $3,500 per month.

Memory Care: Specialty Support

Memory care is a specialized care program for adults that are experiencing moderate or advanced cognitive impairment. These services are often found in the same community as assisted living, but may be in a different neighborhood.

Specially trained staff, extra security and safety measures and activities to develop and strengthen cognitive functions are offered to help residents maintain a positive lifestyle. Memory care can be paid for out of pocket or with assistance from Medicaid, depending on the community and your situation. Most memory care community pricing is between $3,000 and $7,000 per month.

Assisted Living: A Middle Ground

Assisted living is a common place for aging adults that have decided a community is a better option than their own home. Many adults aren’t ready to move away from their homes when they’re fully independent, and by the time they are ready for a senior living community, they need the extra assistance with ADLs that is offered in these communities. These services include:

  • Getting dressed
  • Taking a bath or shower
  • Eating
  • Using the restroom
  • Medication management
  • Grooming needs
  • Mobility assistance

By moving directly from your home to an assisted living community, you can maximize the time you spend in a place filled with memories, while also gaining the support you need, when you need it.

Living Arrangements

Most assisted living centers will offer private and semi-private suites, depending on the level of care each resident requires. Most of the time, couples can still live together, even if only one of them needs the care.

Special Services

Assisted living communities also offer housekeeping and laundry services for their residents. Transportation is provided to and from doctor’s appointments, meetings and other activities.


Three meals a day are provided to residents of assisted living communities. There is typically a community dining room where residents can spend time with neighbors from the community or visitors, like friends and family members. Each day features different food options, all of which are prepared by an expert chef. Your apartment or room may be also be equipped with a small kitchenette, so you can have refrigerated items close by, and a microwave to use when you need it.

Health & Fitness

Communities often offer facilities, programs and a focus on wellness to help residents stay healthy and active. These features may include a fitness center or health and exercise programs.

Social Engagement

Assisted living communities also help adults keep their minds and spirits engaged through interpersonal connections. They’ll offer a weekly schedule with events and outings that you can take part in on your own, with new friends in the community or with visitors. Movies, games, book clubs, spiritual events and other activities are just a few of the options you’ll find.


The cost of assisted living averages about $4,000 per month, with lower rates in areas with lower costs of living (like Georgia, which averages closer to $3,000) and higher costs in states with higher costs of living. Sometimes your insurance or Medicaid will cover a portion (or possibly all) of the fees. What isn’t covered will need to be paid by the resident.


Assisted living provides a safe environment for all residents, no matter the level of care they require. From handrails to grab bars to emergency call systems, many areas are equipped with these precautions with your safety in mind. 24-hour security monitoring is also a common amenity.

Levels of Care at Assisted Living Communities

Assisted living provides 24-hour access to caregivers, with three general levels of support. Your medical needs and individual ADLs will determine where you fall on this scale.

Level 1:

These residents only need occasional supervision, reminders or assistance to manage their ADLs. They are often independent in most activities and need only a low level of care to empower them to be more active.

Level 2:

Here, residents need more support with ADLs but still don’t need help with everything. You receive a moderate level of care at this stage, engaging in the activities you’re interested in with the support you need.

Level 3:

At level three, residents need more regular assistance with most or all ADLs. Medications are administered by expert staff members, and you’ll receive more support determining when a higher level of care, such as memory care, will enrich your life. This is the highest level of care assisted living can provide, with some communities moving residents to memory care at this point.

Is Assisted Living Right for You?

Your health needs and desired level of independence are the biggest factors in determining which type of living environment to choose. It’s smart to tour different places and learn more about each type of care offered. You’ll need to consider your finances, insurance coverage and more. If location is important to you, that will factor in, as well.

Are you largely independent, and only need basic assistance with a few daily tasks? Are you excited about moving into a community that makes your life easier and provides activities that can help you explore your interests? Ask yourself what you’re looking for during this stage of your life and what type of support would help you live the way you want. When making your decision, The Landings at Norcross can help. As a supportive living community, we specialize in memory care and assisted living services that empower you to do more every day. To learn more or go on a tour of our Georgia assisted living or memory care communities, contact us for answers.

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