What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living residence is a long-term senior care option that provides personal care support services such as meals, medication management, bathing, dressing and transportation.
Assisted Living Facility/Residence
Assisted living residence or assisted living facility (ALF) is a housing facility for people with disabilities or for adults who cannot or chose not to live independently. The term is popular in the United States but is similar to a retirement home in the sense that facilities provide a group living environment and typically cater to an elderly population.
Assisted living exemplifies the shift from “care as service” to “care as business” in the broader health care arena predicted more than three decades ago. A consumer-driven industry, assisted living offers a wide range of options, levels of care, and diversity of services (Lockhart, 2009) and is subject to state rather than federal regulatory oversight. Exactly what “assisted living” means depends on both the state and provider in question: variations in state regulatory definitions are significant and provider variables include everything from philosophy, geographic location and auspice, to organizational size and structure. Assisted living evolved from small “board and care” or “personal care” homes and offers a “social model” of care (compared to the medical model of a skilled nursing facility). The assisted living industry is a segment of the senior housing industry and assisted living services can be delivered in stand-alone facilities or as part of multi-level senior living community. The industry is fragmented and dominated by for-profit providers. In 2010, only six of the seventy largest providers were non-profit and none of the top twenty was non-profit (Martin, 2010). Information in this edit is from an article published in 2012 that reviewed the industry and reports results of a research study of assisted living facilities.
In 2012 the U.S. Government estimated that there were 22,200 assisted living facilities in the U.S. (compared to 15,700 nursing homes) and that 713,300 people were residents of these facilities. The number of assisted living facilities in the U.S. has increased dramatically since the early 2000s.
In the U.S. ALFs can be owned by for-profit companies (publicly traded companies or limited liability companies [LLCs]), non-profit organizations or governments. These facilities typically provide supervision or assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs); coordination of services by outside health care providers; and monitoring of resident activities to help to ensure their health, safety, and well-being. Assistance often includes the administration or supervision of medication, or personal care services.
There has been controversy generated by reports of neglect, abuse and mistreatment of residents at assisted living facilities in the U.S.
See: Assisted Living Facility Directory
Within the United States assisted living spectrum, there is no nationally recognized definition of assisted living. Assisted living facilities are regulated and licensed at the US state level. More than two-thirds of the states use the licensure term “assisted living.” Other licensure terms used for this philosophy of care include residential care home, assisted care living facilities, and personal care homes. Each state licensing agency has its own definition of the term it uses to describe assisted living. Because the term assisted living has not been defined in some states it is often a marketing term used by a variety of senior living communities, licensed or unlicensed. Assisted Living facilities in the United States had a national median monthly rate of $3,500.00 in 2014, a 1.45% increase over 2013 and a 4.29% increase over a five-year period from 2009-2014.
Assisted Living Costs
Assisted living costs vary, depending on the following factors:
- Type of residence
- Size of apartment (studio, one or two-bedroom apartment)
- Types of services needed
- Geographical location of the community
Many communities charge a basic rate that covers all services, with an additional fee for special services. Most assisted living communities charge a month-to-month rate, but there are also long-term options available.
Typically, base rates only cover room and board and a service of daily meals, determined by the assisted living community. Sometimes there are entrance fees, deposits and laundry and housekeeping fees. But because these all vary by community, it’s important to ask each community about their individual costs and services.
According to Genworth.com, the average cost for a one-bedroom assisted living apartment in the U.S. in 2014 was $3,500 per month; an increase of 1.19% over 2013 with a five-year annual growth of 5.71%. Studio and two-bedroom assisted living apartments varied, accordingly.
See: Assisted Living Costs per State
Services Offered In Assisted Living
If you’ve seen one assisted living community, you’ve seen one assisted living community. Each state and province has different licensing and regulation requirements for assisted living providers, which affects the particular services offered at that community. For example, some assisted living facilities are attached to, or share a campus with, a skilled nursing facility. This means these types of communities can provide more advanced medical care. But, in general, assisted living communities provide basic medical monitoring as well as daily activities and care. Activities of daily living (ADLs) include dressing, eating, mobility, hygiene, bathing, toileting, using the telephone and shopping.
Here are some of the basic services offered in assisted living:
- 24-hour supervision and security
- Daily meals
- Basic housekeeping
- Health and exercise programs
- Social programs
- Access to medical services
The term “assisted living” is an industry term to describe certain communities and/or facilities. The term “assisted living” may or may not reflect official state or provincial requirements concerning licensing, level of care, and/or the services that are provided. We recommend that when considering these communities and/or facilities you request to see their license and/or contact your state or province’s licensing authority for clarification on license type, level of care, and/or the services that are provided.