What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a residence for the elderly or infirm who require assistance with some of the routine activities of daily living as well as ready access to medical care as needed.

Some people with physical or mental impairments choose to live in assisted living facilities so that professional help is on hand. Assisted living residents may require ongoing medical care as well as trained nursing services.

In terms of the level of care provided, assisted living is a step below the nursing home or skilled nursing facility. They are regulated by state laws, which vary greatly.

Key Takeaways

  • Assisted living provides skilled help for the elderly and infirm in a residential setting.
  • They are designed for people who want some degree of independence and access to help as needed.
  • Residents may stay for as little as a month or long-term.

Understanding Assisted Living

Assisted living allows a bit more independence and costs a bit less than nursing home care but is more expensive than an independent living facility.

The assisted living setting is more like a personal residence, compared to a nursing home’s hospital-like setting. Assisted living is suitable for individuals who cannot manage on their own but want to maintain as much independence as possible.

According to the latest survey by Genworth, the insurance company, the national median cost of a private one-bedroom space in an assisted living facility is $48,000 a year.

The costs vary widely depending on the level of care the resident requires, as well as the location and housing type. The arrangements can be made on a month-to-month basis or longer term. They also may be all-inclusive or a la carte, with optional extras such as meals and housekeeping services.

Paying for Assisted Living

Standard Medicare coverage does not usually include the costs of assisted living.

Some people buy insurance plans that include coverage for such long-term care.

In addition, some states offer financial assistance to help low-income individuals pay for assisted living facilities. For example, California has a Social Security supplement to help pay assisted living costs, currently set at about $423 per month.

Military veterans and their surviving spouses can apply for assistance of up to $1,881 a month ($2,230 for a married person) through a program run by the Veterans Administration. There are eligibility requirements based on income and assets.


The average annual cost of assisted living.

Most assisted living residents are at least 85 years old, but younger individuals with challenging physical or mental conditions may also choose assisted living.

Options for Assisted Living

There are thousands of assisted living facilities to choose from in the U.S., many of them offering specialized services, so prospective residents have options depending on their circumstances and preferences.

Assisted living facilities generally provide meals, housekeeping, transportation, security, physical therapy, and activities for residents. Healthcare and supervision are available 24/7 in most facilities.

The facility will create a written care plan for each resident and reassess and update the plan as needed.