Older Americans are one of the rapidly-growing demographics in the country. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 16.5% of the population are seniors. As this figure increases, so will the need for appropriate housing. Comfort and security in their living environment are vital to thriving. Aging adults and their loved ones need to understand the different options available to decide which kind best fits their needs.
What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a form of senior housing in which residents receive regular help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as dressing, bathing, toileting, grooming, and more. Help with transportation, shopping, medication management, and other activities that seniors find difficult to do on their own is also quite common. Assisted living facilities primarily help residents with non-medical needs. Although minor and infrequent medical services, such as first-aid for a wound, can sometimes be met on-site by nurses. These communities may sometimes also be called ALFs, residential care facilities, retirement homes, or long-term care facilities.
What Types of Care Are Provided in Assisted Living
Assisted living meets the needs of seniors who need some help with daily tasks but do not need constant supervision or extensive, daily medical care. Assisted living facilities are able to provide that “middle ground” option that so many seniors need. These communities primarily serve their residents by helping them with ADLs and IADLs. Most also provide meals and scheduled activities for residents. And some offer extra services such as transportation, laundry, and housekeeping.
Independent Living Communities
In independent living communities, seniors live with almost complete independence in their own apartments, bungalows, or other styles of homes. Seniors often sell their houses and move into these communities so that they can be free of home maintenance tasks and enjoy their retirement more fully in a social setting. These communities are suitable for both couples and single seniors.
Independent living can cost roughly $2,500-$3,500 monthly, though pricing does vary widely based on local real estate markets. Typically, independent living costs far less than other forms of senior living since these facilities do not offer personal assistance with tasks other than cooking, chores, and transportation.
Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living communities often look like and have the same basic atmosphere as quality independent living communities. However, in an assisted living community seniors can get help with activities of daily living (ADLs) and instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs). This means that, if they need it, they can get daily assistance with numerous tasks including toileting, bathing, dressing, medication management, and more.
Assisted living typically costs several thousand more dollars each year than an independent living community does. But it also includes a much more comprehensive set of services than independent living. According to Genworth Financial, the national median monthly cost of assisted living is $4,051.
Memory Care Communities
Memory care communities may be located in self-contained buildings or they may be located within other facilities that offer other levels of care. Regardless of location, security is paramount. Patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia are prone to wandering, getting lost, and becoming agitated or bored.
Memory care facilities require specialized staff training, more experienced staff members, and more security than ALFs. So they tend to be more expensive. As a general rule, expect memory care to cost between $1,000 and $4,000 more per month than assisted living in the same area. This translates to a cost anywhere from $4,300-$11,000 monthly.
Who Should Consider Assisted Living?
Who Should Consider Other Options?
Large assisted living facilities are not the only residential setting in which a senior can get help with ADLs and IADLs. One common alternative is called a care home. In care homes, 6-10 seniors live together with full-time caregivers in a licensed home setting. They can be a great alternative for those who are far away from the nearest assisted living facility but who don’t want to move far from family. The cost of living in these homes is often comparable to that of assisted living.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?
Undoubtedly, assisted living is expensive, with a national monthly median cost of $4,051 and the possibility of even higher costs in some locations. However, assisted living includes not just a room but also regular meals, activities, and personal assistance with many aspects of life. Therefore, the cost of assisted living cannot be compared to the cost of living in a home or apartment. The value of the meals, assistance, and community can make the cost well worth it.