A group of four older women play cards in a sunny living room.
Assisted living offers older adults the opportunity to live with peers and have access to services that let them live a safe, comfortable, and maintenance-free lifestyle.

When older adults determine that living at home has become too difficult, unsafe, or undesirable, they may decide it’s time to move to a senior living community. Assisted living facilities can offer necessary help to older adults while they live maintenance-free lives in safety and comfort.

Because assisted living communities can be costly, it’s important to know what this type of residential setting provides to determine if it’s suitable for you or your loved one.  

What is assisted living?

Assisted living is a type of residence for older adults who want to remain as independent as possible but need personal or medical help. These facilities aim to provide a communal environment for their residents and offer a range of services that help with housekeeping and maintenance, personal hygiene, nutrition, and medication needs.

What does an assisted living facility provide?

Assisted living facilities provide services that help older adults maintain as much independence as possible while getting the help they need. Typically, assisted living facilities are buildings with studio or one-bedroom apartments that have bathrooms and kitchenettes. Residents can prepare their own meals at home or have meals in the common dining room. They have the privacy of their own apartment but can have staff help them with activities of daily living, such as bathing and getting dressed. Residents can also get help managing their medications.

Services vary among facilities, and many have tiers of care that residents can use as their needs increase. Most assisted living facilities offer these types of services:

  • Assistance with activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, grooming, eating).
  • Meals and dining.
  • Assistance with medication management.
  • Some medical services.
  • Access to around-the-clock emergency care.
  • Housekeeping services.
  • Laundry services.
  • Social activities.
  • Exercise, health, and wellness programming.

By providing these types of services, assisted living facilities empower older adults to live maintenance-free lives and get the daily help they need.

Services assisted living facilities may provide at an added cost

Assisted living facilities may offer additional services above their standard services at additional costs. According to the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, 14% of assisted living communities offer memory care services for residents who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

While there are many services that assisted living can provide, services vary from facility to facility. It is important to talk with a prospective facility about additional available services and tiers of care they can provide as residents’ needs change.

Services assisted living facilities don’t provide

Sixty percent of assisted living residents ultimately transition to nursing homes. Often, this is because the resident needs around-the-clock supervision or assistance, and assisted living facilities typically do not offer this level of care. 

When a resident requires this level of care, or a chronic illness severely decreases their medical condition or mobility, they may move to a nursing home.

How do I know it’s time for assisted living?

You or your loved one may have home care but realize more assistance is needed. Or, perhaps you or your loved one lives at home, but safety, comfort, or happiness is a concern. Talk about the answers to these questions with your family or loved one to begin considering if assisted living is an option:

  • What help is needed at home to be safe and happy?
  • What equipment is needed to continue living at home?
  • How often is care needed?
  • Does a doctor suggest moving to an assisted living facility?

When you or your loved one determine it may be time to move to this type of community, there are many ways to pay for assisted living. Personal funds, insurance policies, loans, and even extra benefits can help pay for assisted living to help older adults live as independently as possible while getting the help they need.