The goal of assisted living is to allow your parent or loved one to stay independent in a homelike setting. The checklist on the left will guide you.
An assisted living facility usually include a room or small apartment and meals, along with personal care and support services, social activities, and 24-hour supervision.
Some also offer health-related services. Their mission: to help your loved one enjoy the freedom and independence of private living.
Assisted living provides relatively independent seniors with assistance and limited healthcare services in a homelike atmosphere. They are designed to:
- Minimize the need to relocate;
- Accommodate individual residents’ changing needs and preferences;
- Maximize residents’ dignity, autonomy, privacy, independence, choice and safety; and
- Encourage family and community involvement.
Services include 24-hour protective oversight, food, shelter, and a range of services that promote quality of life. The facilities are licensed by state governments.
They may be called many different names, including residential care, board and care, congregate care, and personal care. Assisted living care is not the same as nursing facility care.
Because there is no common definition for assisted living facilities, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of facilities. However, it is currently estimated that there are 36,000 assisted living residences nationwide.
The "typical" assisted living customer is 85 years old. Three quarters of assisted living residents are female. About 68 percent need assistance with bathing, and almost half need help with dressing.1
Assisted living homes are very different from one another in size, appearance, and the types of services they offer. Some provide only meals, basic housekeeping, and help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing and grooming. Others also arrange transportation and certain health services. Costs vary greatly, and the monthly fee varies depending on the services provided.
The facility could be a small home with just a few people, or a high-rise apartment-style building with as many as 200 or more residents. Living areas could be a single room or a full apartment with a small kitchen, with prepared meals also served in a common dining area.
This arrangement is good for people who can't live on their own but who don't need nursing homes. Older people have many different needs.
Those needs often change over time, so assisted living offers different levels of care at different costs. Residents who live in an assisted living facility that is associated with a nursing home may be able to get additional services if they need them later. 2
Services and Activities
The services and activities provided or arranged for in assisted living residences generally include:
- 24-hour supervision;
- Three meals a day in a group dining room;
- Personal care services (help with bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.)
- Medication management, or assistance with self-administration of medicine;
- Social services;
- Supervision and assistance for persons with Alzheimer’s or other dementias and disabilities;
- Recreational and spiritual activities;
- Exercise and wellness programs;
- Laundry and linen service;
- Housekeeping and maintenance; and,
- Arrangements for transportation.
In most states, assisted living residences are registered, licensed or certified by an appropriate department or agency.
Each resident receives individualized services to help him/her function within the residence and within the community. Upon admission, a service plan is usually developed to coordinate the delivery of services to each resident.
The agreement, which includes an assessment or evaluation of the resident’s physical and psychosocial needs, is reviewed and updated regularly by the staff, and as the resident’s condition indicates. The resident and family or responsible party are encouraged to play an active role in the development of the service plan.
A resident care or wellness coordinator is usually designated to oversee the process of developing, implementing, and evaluating the progress of the service plan. A copy of the service plan is provided to the resident, family, or responsible party upon request.
Personal care and health services
Assisted living residences provide supervision or assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs); coordination of services by outside healthcare providers; and monitoring of resident activities to help to ensure his or her health, safety, and well-being. Assistance may include the administration or supervision of medication, or certain personal care services by a trained staff person.
The residence may assist in arranging the appropriate medical, health, and dental care services for each resident. The resident generally chooses his or her doctor and dental services.
Residents who have periods of temporary incapacity due to illness, injury, or recuperation from surgery often are allowed to remain in the residence or to return from a rehabilitation center, skilled nursing facility or hospital if appropriate services can be provided by the assisted living residence.
It is important to remember that assisted living residences are bridges between living at home and living in nursing homes. Assisted living residences do not typically provide the level of continuous skilled nursing care found in nursing homes and hospitals.
A residence is defined by the scope of services it provides, not by the number of residents it serves. It is important for residents and families to understand what services the residence offers, as well as the costs and limitations of those services.
Accommodations and options may vary greatly from one assisted living residence to the next (e.g. private rooms, private baths, kitchenettes, etc.). Personal needs and preferences are important criteria for selecting a residence and the amenities it offers.
Most residences are constructed and equipped to comply with a host of local, state and federal regulations. Assisted living residences are designed to be operated, staffed and maintained in a manner appropriate to the needs and desires of the residents served.
Caring for residents with Alzheimer’s or other dementias and disabilities requires a residence design and philosophy that assure resident safety and autonomy. Such services should be provided in an appropriate and safe setting that adheres to appropriate local, state and federal regulations.3
3Long Term Care Living