Assisted Living - Overview
WHAT IS ASSISTED LIVING?
Assisted living is probably the most broadly defined form of senior living available today. Small wonder. With changes in medical and health technology and evolving attitudes about aging, assisted living solutions become more popular every year.
The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) defines an assisted living residence as a special combination of housing, personalized supportive services and health care designed to meet the needs — both scheduled and unscheduled — of those seniors who need help with activities of daily living (ADL), such as bathing, dressing, eating and monitoring medications.
Assisted living is generally for those seniors who can no longer manage on their own but whom do not need the intensive, 24-hour complex medical services of traditional long-term care. The average assisted living resident is 83 years old and requires assistance with two ADLs.
In general, assisted living provides a balance of residential living, health and recreational services, and assistance in day-to-day living activities. In reality, it offers residents many of the same benefits as independent living, while providing basic help in areas that may have become personally challenging.
WHO LIVES IN ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITIES?*
• Approximately 800,000 people live in assisted living communities nationwide.
• 68% female, 32% male (national average).
• The typical resident is an 80-year old woman, who can walk on her own but requires help in performing 2-3 activities of daily living.
WHAT TO EXPECT
There are many typical features in assisted living communities. Residences can be free-standing, like cottages, or apartments within a larger building or campus. Living spaces are specially designed with custom handrails, wheelchair accessible rooms, corridors, and bathtubs, emergency-call devices, etc. Most important, these communities are created to respect residents' privacy, independence and lifestyle preferences. Most communities have personal care professionals to help residents manage their most basic daily activities.
Beyond daily activity care, residents plan and live their lives as usual. Assisted living communities offer a wide array of fitness, crafts, leisure and cultural activities. Community social calendars may vary by region or time of year; but generally, residents can experience a full and highly social day. Residents typically have choices in meal plans, laundry and housekeeping service, local transportation and religious services. On-site security and property supervision are also the norm.
* National Center for Assisted Living. Facts and Trends: The Assisted Living Sourcebook. 2001. 6/7/03