Introduction To Assisted Living, Seniors’ Top Long-term Housing Choice

Assisted living facilities are a good option for seniors who need ongoing help with personal care and typical daily activities, yet who wish to retain their independence to the maximum extent. Here’s more:

As Baby Boomers enter their retirement years, it’s inevitable that some might start to need assistance with day-to-day activities. But they’re understandably reluctant to forfeit their independence. If they have been accustomed to managing a business–or a family–they could have a difficult time acknowledging that they occasionally forget to take their medications, or even need help getting bathed and dressed. Because they don’t need daily medical care at this point, assisted living might be a good housing option.

What is an assisted living facility? Assisted living facilities provide care for seniors who need some help with activities of daily living yet wish to remain as independent as possible. They essentially serve as a middle ground between independent living and nursing homes.

Assisted living facilities aim to foster as much autonomy as the resident is capable of. Most of them offer 24-hour supervision and an array of support services, with more privacy, space, and dignity than many nursing homes–at a lower cost.

There are approximately 33,000 of these facilities operating in the U.S. today. The number of residents living in a facility can range from several to 300, with the most common size being between 25 and 120 individuals.

An assisted living facility helps seniors with personal care, such as:

* Bathing
* Dressing
* Toileting
* Eating
* Grooming
* Getting around

Daily contact with supervisory staff is the defining characteristic of an assisted living facility. Medical care is limited, but it is often possible to contract for some medical needs.

Here are the key characteristics of assisted living facilities:

Activities of daily living (dressing, personal care): Comprehensive assistance provided.

Community activities (social events, outings, golf, etc.): Some activities offered.

Community services (laundry, cleaning, etc.): Many / most services provided.

Health dervices (medications, nursing care): Some services provided; not skilled nursing, however.

Environment (personal freedom):Residents are somewhat independent.

Overall health (physical, emotional): Residents have average health problems.

A recent Prudential Insurance report found that the average daily cost for an assisted living facility is now more than $ 100, or $ 3,241/month.

Although the report examined both assisted living and nursing home costs, it found the largest increase in cost of care in assisted living, spiking about 13 percent since 2006.

By the year 2030, the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to reach more than 71 million, or almost 20 percent of the entire U.S. population.

As the population ages, of course, the need for care is projected to grow correspondingly. Not surprisingly, recent studies continue to show increases in the cost of long-term care throughout the country.

The Prudential findings are similar to those from this year’s Genworth Financial Cost of Care Survey, which can be found at

The Genworth survey found that the national average monthly rate for assisted living housing is $ 3,008/month.

You can find more information about these studies and their findings at

Laurence Harmon is a principal of, the leading provider of essential information for Baby Boomers, the generation that is becoming increasingly involved in their aging parents’ care.

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