What Is Assisted Living, and Is It Right for Me?
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If living alone has become burdensome or unsafe, you may want to consider making the move to an assisted living community. Most assisted living communities provide a range of services, including meals, housekeeping, and medication management. They also provide seniors with social opportunities and community. Since loneliness can contribute to mental and physical decline,1 the connections and friendships fostered in an assisted living community can be great for your health!
There are thousands of assisted living communities across the country, and it's important to find one that meets your needs. Whether you're looking for a community with specialized care for your health needs, or you want to find a community for you and your spouse, there is an option for you!
Want to learn more about assisted living? From assisted living costs and Medicare coverage to tips on how to choose the right community for you, we've got you covered.
Before you visit assisted living communities near you, you may wonder – what is it like to live there? Well, I've got the inside scoop! During the years I worked for an assisted living facility, I spoke with dozens of residents that call assisted living home. Let's jump in to see if assisted living is right for you!
Assisted living is designed to provide long-term housing for older adults who need assistance with daily tasks such as laundry, cooking, cleaning, and managing their medication. This support helps older adults maintain good health longer. Assisted living is a great fit for seniors or couples who are still active and social but just need some extra help with daily life. Seniors and their adult children can take comfort knowing that 24/7 support is available if needed.
For more details on assisted living, check out the video below with our Editor-in-Chief, Jeff Hoyt.
Services provided in an assisted living community will vary, but generally, you can expect meals, laundry, housekeeping, and maintenance to be taken care of. Also, if you no longer drive or are thinking about giving up driving, transportation is provided.
According to the National Center for Assisted Living, typical services provided by assisted living communities include:2
Some assisted living communities have “a la carte” services and amenities that you may add on for an extra cost such as salon services, garage or carport space, and physical and occupational therapy.
There are typically three levels of care in assisted living communities. Levels of care are based on the assistance a resident needs with the six main activities of daily living (ADLs).3
These care levels allow residents to stay in their assisted living home longer. For example, if a senior has a change in health and needs additional support, they can move to the next level of care within assisted living without the hassle of moving to a new room or different facility.
Most assisted living communities have three levels of care. Though it will vary slightly from place to place, below is a general structure.
|Care Level||May Include||Best For|
|Level One: Lowest Care||
||Seniors who are mostly independent but need some reminders throughout the day.|
|Level Two: Moderate Care||
||Seniors who have some mobility impairment and need assistance but are still able to eat on their own.|
|Level Three: Highest Care||
||Seniors who have severe physical or cognitive impairment and need assistance with the majority of daily tasks.|
To determine your level of care, an assisted living staff member will assess your mobility and fine motor skills, as well as consider your medical conditions. The higher the care level, the more assistance you will need from staff, which will increase your care costs. It is important to be honest and open during an assessment to ensure you get the adequate care you need to stay safe and healthy.
If cooking, cleaning, and managing your medication is overwhelming and tiring, assisted living may be for you. If you're generally still active and can get around well on your own or with the assistance of a cane or walker, you may benefit from assisted living, where many daily tasks are taken care of. This frees up your time and energy to enjoy hobbies, spend time with friends and family, and volunteer if you'd like.
Some signs that you or your loved one may be ready for assisted living include:
According to the Genworth Cost of Long-Term Care Survey, the median cost of assisted living in 2021 was $4,500 per month. Prices vary from about $3,000 to $7,000 per month, depending on location and several other factors. Cost is shaped by the usual housing factors (e.g., room size, amenities, and geographic location) plus care services. Residents might have separate fees for help with laundry, pet care, physical therapy, and other needs. If the need for care advances, a person might bring in extra help to avoid transferring to a nursing home.
So how do you pay for assisted living? It’s common to combine resources such as personal savings, Medicaid, long-term care insurance, and veterans’ benefits. Some independent living communities have staff available to guide you through the options and paperwork. You can also privately hire a geriatric planner. To help you get started on your own, take a look at our assisted living costs guide at the top of this page; it covers average prices by state and ways to pay.
Determining if assisted living is right for you or a loved one may feel like quite an undertaking. Enlisting trusted support and accessing expert guidance can relieve some of the burden and help you navigate choosing an assisted living community.
Here are some first steps you can take to find an assisted living community in your area:
A great way to find the right assisted living community is to visit several different facilities. When touring an assisted living center, you’ll be on the lookout for standards of cleanliness and personal interaction. Remember, for a high quality of life, it’s critical to find a good social match, not just a facility that meets basic needs. Visiting assisted living communities will give you a better idea of the social setting, activities, and culture the community fosters. Eating a meal at the facility can be a great way to start gaining an insider’s view – so if possible, arrange an interview over lunch or dinner at the facility. It’s also helpful to observe a class or facilitated social activity. Here are several questions to ask and consider during your visit.
Keep in mind that assisted living communities are required to give a written 30-day notice to the resident and legal representative (usually a family member) before the resident is required to move out.
Want to compare assisted living with other types of senior living? Visit our housing comparison guide.
Scott founded Select Home Care Portland in 2009 and has been helping seniors live their best life at home or in their local senior community ever since. As an advocate for seniors, the primary philosophy has been to listen, educate and provide… Learn More About Scott Witt
Morgan has been writing about the senior living industry for the past five years. In addition to over 400 hours of research on topics like medical alert systems, health insurance, and technology for older adults, she also brings her previous experience working… Learn More About Morgan Redding
National Institute on Aging. (2019). Social isolation, loneliness in older people pose health risks.
ACHANCAL. (2022). Facts & Figures.
NIH. (2022). Activities of Daily Living.