If you’re looking at retirement communities for yourself or a family member, it can be hard to know what all the terms — independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing — for different living options mean. And if you’ve only visited a community either to see a parent or grandparent, you may not realize how much they’ve evolved. But for those who haven’t been to a community in decades, myths about senior living communities — especially myths about assisted living — persist. This blog post will look at some common assisted living myths and offer some facts about what assisted living communities offer.

Not your stereotypical lifestyle.

Until you actually experience something for yourself, many of us have to rely on popular culture portrayals for information. Think of the way older adults have been portrayed through the years in the movies, in commercials and on TV shows. With aging, like living in an assisted living community, the popular culture stereotype doesn’t always match real-world experience. Here are some common myths about assisted living and the reality:

MYTH #1: Assisted living equals a nursing home.

REALITY: Assisted living communities help with activities of daily living — like getting dressed and bathing — that may be difficult or dangerous to do on your own. They also provide meals, medication monitoring, housekeeping, activities and social events. Nursing homes and other skilled nursing communities help with chronic health issues that require closer attention and around-the-clock care from medical professionals. 

MYTH #2: I’ll lose my independence.

REALITY: You can decorate your residence, eat when you want, do the activities that interest you, and even visit with friends and family. If you decide to do some traveling, the community will look after everything while you’re away. In fact, assisted living communities are designed to help you maintain your independence for as long as possible. 

MYTH #3: It’s too expensive.

REALITY: When you consider everything you may need to do to your house to make it easier for you to get around — widening doorways, taking out steps, hiring a caregiver — staying at home can cost much more in the long run. And assisted living communities take care of all inside and outside maintenance and repairs, property taxes, and most cover all your utilities and provide meals. Plus, you have 24/7 access to their highly trained staff, if needed.

MYTH #4: I’ll be stuck at the community.

REALITY: Most assisted living communities offer complimentary transportation for shopping, social events and scheduled doctors’ appointments. If you’re a licensed driver, you can still use your own vehicle and be provided with a parking space.

MYTH #5: There’s no privacy.

REALITY: Most assisted living communities offer a variety of apartment floor plans you can furnish and decorate however you’d like. Plus, you’ll only have visitors when you want them — and staff will only enter your apartment with your prior knowledge and consent. 

MYTH #6: I have to stick to a schedule.

REALITY: While assisted living communities offer a calendar full of engaging activities and events — like yoga classes, crafting classes, sports and board games — you always have the freedom to participate in as many, or as few, activities as you want to. 

MYTH #7: I’ll be lonely and bored there.

REALITY: Assisted living communities are full of interesting neighbors, so you’re sure to find someone who shares your interests. Plus, there are a variety of clubs, volunteer groups and other activities to attend. In fact, some residents say they’ve never been busier. 

MYTH #8: I won’t like the food.

REALITY: Almost every assisted living community offers a broad variety of delicious menu options that are also nutritious. You’ll also likely find a number of diverse chef-prepared meals on the menu every day. However, as you tour communities, be sure to ask to try the food and confirm what choices they offer.

MYTH #9: I have to be sick or disabled.

REALITY: Yes, there may be licensed nurses on staff, but assisted living is for seniors who are independent and only need limited care. If you ever need higher levels of care — like skilled nursing or rehabilitation — you’ll work with your community to get the care that’s appropriate for you.

Getting the Facts Matters.

If you’re considering a move to assisted living for yourself or a loved one, our Find a Community tool can provide a list of local options for you to consider. Once you find a few choices you’re interested in, visit the community, talk with the staff and residents, and even try the food. You’re sure to find a quality of life that’s very different from what you expected.