Assisted Living

DEFINITION of 'Assisted Living'

A type of housing that combines healthcare and help with activities of daily living, assisted living is an option for individuals who have a mental and/or physical condition that requires ongoing medical care and who may not be able to bathe, get dressed, use the toilet, eat, take their medicine or perform other essential tasks without help. Assisted living is a step below a nursing home in terms of the level of care provided. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Assisted Living'

Individuals who can barely take care of themselves are best served by nursing home care, while those who need a bit less help are best served by assisted living. Assisted living allows a bit more independence and is less expensive than nursing home care but more expensive than an independent living facility, all else being equal. The cost depends on the level of care the resident requires, location and housing type. Contracts can be all-inclusive or a la carte and month-to-month or longer term. Some states offer financial assistance to help low-income individuals afford assisted living facilities.

Most assisted living residents are older seniors who are at least 85, but younger individuals may also choose assisted living if they have a mental illness, mental incapacity, a substance abuse problem or a major physical handicap. There are thousands of assisted living facilities with different setups and specialties, which means prospective residents have options to find a home that suits their circumstances and preferences. Assisted living facilities provide meals, housekeeping, transportation, security, physical therapy and activities for residents. Healthcare and supervision are available 24/7.

The assisted living setting is more like a personal residence, compared to a nursing home’s more hospital-like setting. Assisted living is suitable for individuals who need more help and supervision than they can get from living alone in a personal residence, but who still want to maintain as much independence as possible. The facility will create a written care plan for each resident and reassess and update the plan as needed. For more, see Alternatives to Nursing Homes and Pros & Cons of Smaller Long-Term Care Facilities.