Assisted Living

Assisted living is a communal way of life designed for seniors who need help with various daily tasks – like grooming, bathing, and medication management – but still wish to remain as independent as possible.

Table of Contents

What Is an Assisted Living Community?

Assisted living communities are designed for seniors who need help with various daily tasks, but still want to remain as independent as possible. The communities provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and services such as:

  • Bathing and personal hygiene
  • Managing medications
  • Dining
  • Housekeeping and laundry

These services can either be included in the monthly price, or provided at an additional charge.

What Does an Assisted Living Community Look Like?

Assisted living communities come in a variety of layouts, sizes, and types of housing. Their hallways and common areas are often wide and spacious, allowing for mobility devices such as wheelchairs and walkers. They tend to be on one level, or provide first floor access to elevators. The appearance often ranges; some are laid out like a typical apartment complex, while others may look more like a sprawling campus-wide retirement community.

The more encompassing campuses may also feature:

  • Independent Living: An active residential community with housing, amenities, and entertainment specifically designed for independent seniors; however, these do not include assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). 
  • Memory Care: Assisted living communities, or sections within an assisted living community, tailored specifically to individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer’s. They provide secured units where residents can wander safely, and will often utilize furnishing and design solutions that specifically help with memory issues. 
  • Skilled Nursing Care: Around-the-clock care provided by a registered nurse who monitors the health of residents while also administering necessary treatments and procedures.

What Is It Like to Live in an Assisted Living Facility?

Assisted living facilities seek to make their residents’ day-to-day lives as simple, comfortable, and engaging as possible. These communities provide everything from housekeeping to meals to 24-hour security, and help remove many daily concerns seniors would otherwise face. Residents and their families have the peace of mind knowing that if help is needed, someone is always nearby.

Residents can also spend more time enjoying their hobbies and interests, such as painting, music, playing cards, and reading – and even in many cases, cooking and gardening.

Happy senior lady sitting at wheelchair holding a caregivers hand

Lifestyle

Assisted living facilities are designed to cultivate a strong social connection among residents, as isolation can have a negative effect on one’s physical and mental health. Many communities have group dining and common areas. They also offer regularly planned group recreation to help keep seniors engaged, with activities ranging from creative to active such as:

  • Bridge groups
  • Arts and crafts
  • Yoga
  • Music
  • Gardening
  • Game nights
  • Live entertainment
  • Day trips or outings

Most communities encourage visitors anytime throughout the day, and many even allow family members and close friends to come after the building has been locked up at night.

Some also allow residents to have a pet, as long as it is cared for and well-behaved. Much like an apartment community, weight limits often apply.

Services

Many daily chores are done by the assisted living community staff, basic services which are typically built into monthly fees. These often include:

  • Meals
  • Laundry
  • Cleaning and housekeeping
  • Transportation

Medical and Special Needs Options

Potential residents qualify for assisted living when they require help with at least three activities of daily living (ADLs). Staff are on hand to assist with these daily activities as needed, such as bathing, dressing, and grooming.

Other basic medical services include:

  • Medication reminders
  • Medication administration
  • Wound treatment and other types of medical care, often administered by a third party
  • Physical, speech, or occupational therapy, often offered onsite by a third party provider such as a home care or home health agency

Questions to Ask When Considering an Assisted Living Community

Financial

  • Is there an entrance fee?
  • What is the monthly fee?
  • What does the monthly fee cover?
  • What other services are provided at an additional cost?

Social

  • Does their activity program appeal to you?
  • Do they have multigenerational programming?
  • Is there scheduled transportation?
  • Are there regular outings or field trips?

Environmental

  • Does it appear to be a warm and hospitable setting?
  • Do the residents seem cared for and content?
  • Is there a controlled entry system (especially important if there’s a concern about your loved one wandering)?
  • Visit during off hours (like in the evenings or on weekends). Does the community still look as well maintained and organized as it did during daytime hours?

Staffing

  • Is the staff friendly and helpful?
  • Is someone available 24 hours a day?
  • How often and how many caregivers are staffed at a time?
  • Does the person giving a tour of the facility know the names of the residents they pass in the hallway? This is a good indicator of the staff involvement.
  • What is the average length of employment for the community?

Is Assisted Living Right for Me?

Consider these statements below to determine if a couple of them describe you, or your loved one:

  • Having an extra set of hands would be helpful
  • I would like to connect with others and don’t want to be isolated by living alone
  • Having meals prepared for me would be helpful
  • I no longer feel safe living in my home
  • I need help getting in and out of the tub or shower, or need help bathing
  • I need help getting dressed
  • I do not have family or friends nearby if I need help with daily tasks
  • I need help navigating the stairs of my home
  • I grab onto furniture for stability as I move around my home

If most or all of the above statements apply, then an Assisted Living Community may be a good option. You could also consider the following solutions:

If you or your loved one are in better health than these statements indicate, the following solutions may be a better fit:

If you or your loved one need more hands-on care, the following options may be a better fit for you:

Still not sure? Take our Care Assessment to see what care level may be best.

Understanding the Cost of Assisted Living

The cost of assisted living can vary greatly among facilities. These factors are often based on:

  • Community location
  • Location of the residence within the community
  • Amenities
  • Type and size of residence
  • Staff ratio

According to Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, the National Monthly Median cost of assisted living care in the United States is $4,051. Many communities have à la carte pricing, which makes the starting monthly price point more affordable; however, with additional needs – such as additional care – comes additional cost. Statistically, the average stay in an assisted living home is 2-3 years. For budgeting purposes, some things to keep in mind:

  • What is the length of the contract term?
  • What type of notice is required for terminating a contract?
  • How frequently are rate increases introduced?

A more expensive, higher quality community often comes with additional features and amenities. These include:

  • Better social programming
  • More outings and field trips
  • More opportunities for entertainment
  • Better meal offerings
  • Higher quality fixtures, furniture, and overall more upscale living spaces

Typically, assisted living is funded by private funds and long-term care insurance policies. There are financial assistance programs available to families in need; these tend to be available on the state level. Other funding sources can be veterans’ benefits, and in rare cases, Medicaid; availability varies state to state.

For information on the cost of assisted living in your area, visit one of the links below:

Licensing and Inspection Requirements

Though there are no federal regulations in regards to assisted living, individual states have their own guidelines in place. Find more information about assisted living facilities in your state below:


Ready to start the search? Find assisted living options in your area:

That person who helps others simply because it should or must be done and because it is the right thing to do, is indeed without a doubt, a real superhero.

-Stan Lee