DEFINITION of ‘Assisted Living’

Assisted living is a type of housing facility for the elderly or infirm who may require medical care and assistance with activities of daily living. Along with the elderly, some individuals with mental and/or physical conditions may also choose to live in assisted living facilities. Assisted living residents may require ongoing medical care, need help with bathing and dressing, using a toilet, taking their medication, and/or performing other essential tasks. Assisted living is a step below a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility in terms of the level of care provided.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Assisted Living’

Assisted living allows a bit more independence and is less expensive than nursing home care, where residents may need 24-hour care, but more expensive than an independent living facility, all else being equal. According to a 2017 Genworth survey, the national median cost of a private one-bedroom in an assisted living facility is $45,000 a year. However, the cost of an assisted living facility will depend on the level of care the resident requires, location, and housing type. Contracts can be all-inclusive or a la carte, and month-to-month or longer term. Some states offer financial assistance to help low-income individuals afford assisted living facilities.

Most assisted living residents are older seniors who are at least 85, but younger individuals may also choose assisted living if they have a mental illness, mental incapacity, a substance abuse problem or a major physical handicap. There are thousands of assisted living facilities with different setups, and specialties, which means prospective residents have options to find a home that suits their circumstances and preferences. Assisted living facilities provide meals, housekeeping, transportation, security, physical therapy and activities for residents. Healthcare and supervision are available 24/7 in most facilities.

The assisted living setting is more like a personal residence, compared to a nursing home’s more hospital-like setting. Assisted living is suitable for individuals who need more help and supervision than they can get from living alone in a personal residence, but who still want to maintain as much independence as possible. The facility will create a written care plan for each resident and reassess and update the plan as needed. For more, see Alternatives to Nursing Homes and Pros & Cons of Smaller Long-Term Care Facilities.

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