All You Need to Know About Assisted Living

Updated on May 29, 2020

Seniors and the elderly want to maintain their independence and fear losing it. Most wish to stay in their homes and lead an autonomous life. But in reality, about 20% of the U.S. elderly above 85 years receive or need assistance with daily living activities. In this article, we give you all the essential details about assisted living which enables seniors to get help and yet maintain their independence to a large extent. 

Assisted living is also called many other names. In certain states, it is termed personal care or residential care. Though the services and care level are different in the licenses sanctioned by various states, a minimum grade of support is offered to help community residents enjoy optimal independence levels. 

What is Offered in an Assisted Living Community?

An assisted living community provides personalized care to older adults in residences. This facility is suitable for senior citizens whose wellbeing and health needs a higher support level. This is decided by the facility after conducting a health assessment as per state rules. Assisted living communities also facilitate social engagement and a healthy residential lifestyle. 

Common services in assisted living communities include medicine management and help with grooming, dressing and using the restroom. The facilities also offer meals, housekeeping, transportation and laundry services, and social activities and programs. They provide staff round the clock to aid with support, care and safety. Seniors can take their own personal and furniture items to feel more at home. 

The community assesses each senior on joining and devises a personalized service package for their specific needs. Some communities also offer memory care. Such facilities typically have separate dining menus and rooms based on the nutritional requirements of residents. 

What You Don’t Get

Assisted living differs from nursing home support or skilled nursing. At a skilled nursing home, residents get full-time attention from well-trained medical personnel. Seniors who need higher level long-term or short-term medical care require what’s called long-term care, extended care, or skilled nursing support. These homes are licensed by Medicaid and/or Medicare and provide long-term health care as well as shorter term rehabilitation. 

The term supportive services also means a care level akin to assisted living though its definition is different in various states. Supportive services also indicate assistance designed specifically for adults who are developmentally challenged. 

Advantages of Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities go beyond merely providing basic help to seniors and can significantly improve their quality of life. In addition, they can aid to make life easy for the chief caregiver who is usually a family member. A 2019 survey of the quality of life facilitated by assisted living reveals that 78% of family members and 87% of senior residents are very satisfied or satisfied with their community experience. 

Watch Out for these Signs

Seniors should watch out for the following signs that indicate they need assisted living:

  • Experience one or multiple falls, without or with injury 
  • Difficulty in meal preparation 
  • Hunger signs or lack of proper nutrition 
  • Difficulty in safely moving around the home 
  • Need more assistance in managing medication, bathing, getting dressed and with other daily activities 
  • Worries about safety and isolation 

If seniors face any of these concerns, they should start exploring assisted living facilities. 

Life in an Assisted Living Community 

An assisted living community is typically like an independent living community and offers similar lifestyle and social benefits. In addition, they provide specially designed opportunities and programs for residents. In the U.S., there about 29,000 facilities for assisted living that cater to a wide range of preferences. 

The settings vary from large campuses to high-rise buildings and more. However, they are all similar in the sense that they encourage residents to be more independent, offer privacy, and provide seniors a dignified way of life. All 50 U.S. states regulate assisted living, so learn about your state’s rules to know more. 

Cost of Assisted Living

The expenses of assisted living depend on the location of the community, kinds of services required, residence size and more. However, assisted living is typically less costly than nursing care or home health in the area. 

A 2019 survey by Genworth estimates that national average monthly cost of assisted living is about $4,050 which means approximately $135 a day. In comparison, the survey indicates that the cost of a nursing home private room is around $284 a day or about $8,500 per month. The average cost of home health aide facility is $141 a day. 

Can You Pay for Assisted Living with Medicaid or Medicare?

Generally, no. Each state however specifies its own provisions and restrictions. Medicare generally doesn’t cover assisted living but your coverage for pharmaceuticals and personal health insurance will continue. 

Most seniors pay for assisted living from their “private pay” personal resources or with the restricted coverage offered by long-term health insurance. To assist low-income people pay for assisted living, many states present community- and home-based waivers. You should contact your state’s Medicaid resource for available assistance for your specific needs and situation. 

To sum up, assisted living can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and better quality of life even as you age. 

Throughout the year, our writers feature fresh, in-depth, and relevant information for our audience of 40,000+ healthcare leaders and professionals. As a healthcare business publication, we cover and cherish our relationship with the entire health care industry including administrators, nurses, physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists, and more. We cover a broad spectrum from hospitals to medical offices to outpatient services to eye surgery centers to university settings. We focus on rehabilitation, nursing homes, home care, hospice as well as men’s health, women’s heath, and pediatrics.