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Understanding Assisted Living

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted Living Levels of Care

Assisted Living is a service for people who need help with the activities of daily living (ADLs). Assisted living facilities are special facilities that span the gap between independent living and nursing homes. These facilities may be temporary or long-term housing. They are especially designed to help seniors who are mostly independent but need help with some of the day-to-day activities. This can include transportation, assistance with medications, preparing meals/eating, bathing, dressing, housekeeping and getting to the doctor’s office.

Assisted living facilities usually offer immediate access to emergency help. Most facilities include a pull cord or locket based alarm system that can alert the staff if one of the residents falls or has some other emergency. This safety alert system can minimize the damage from a fall, stroke and other health event because help is only a few minutes away.

Here is a comparison of Assisted, Independent and Nursing Home Care

 Independent LivingAssisted LivingNursing Home
Self Care100%Need help activities of daily living (ADLs)Can not survive without this level of assistance
Medical ConditionsNone to MinorMinor to MajorLife Threatening
Size Range400 to 3000 square feet250 to 600 square feet100 to 300 square feet
Emergency AssistanceAttendant availableAttendant on 24-hour staffNurses on 24 hour duty
PrivacyPrivate or semi-private residenceUsually one building with private living areasPrivate or shared rooms
KitchenCan include granite counter and full size kitchenMini (see below)None
DesignRange from luxury home or standard apartmentRange from 2 bedroom to studio, Similar to hotel roomSimilar to a hospital
PaymentPrivate Pay OnlyPrivate Pay, Some state have subsidized bedsMany Facilities accept Medicare and Medicaid
Cost Range$1500 to $10,000/month$2000 to $8,000/month$2000 to $6,000/month

To get a quick understanding of the different levels of self care, just look at the kitchens (the ability to make food for yourself) in these facilities.

In a nursing home, there is NO kitchen

Assisted Living kitchen

Here is a typical assisted living

Assisted Living facilities also have advantages because of the social interaction between residents. When comparing an assisted living facility to living at home with in-home care, the assisted living facility has a much higher level of socialization. Since most meals are served in a cafeteria for food service area, residents are exposed to their neighbors much more than they would be living at home. Most assisted living facilities also have a activities director that organizes special advance for residents. This can range from group outings to Wal-Mart, to a night at the theater.

Assistant Living facilities also have another advantage. Most facilities include some level of both physical and mental health programs or rehab services. This is especially critical for seniors that need to have activities available in order to help rebuild their physical or mental abilities or maintain their existing condition. For many seniors, the goal, while in assisted living, is to regain their health and get better back to a more independent living arrangement.

Other common names for assisted living facilities include adult foster care, retirement residences, adult living facilities, domiciliary care, adult congregate living care, residential care, sheltered housing and community based retirement facilities.