Assisted Living Concepts for todays senior housing choices

By Carol Fena

When is the right time to start a discussion about assisted living.  If you are asking that question, then the right time is probably now.

Learn about how assisted living came about, what it is like today, and how it is evolving for the future.  

Senior living residenceA very homey feeling created by
The Arbors in Potomac, Md.

Assisted Living concepts are relatively new, developing only in the last twenty years.  It used to be that people went directly from their homes into nursing homes when they couldn't keep up--not a good option when medical attention was not needed.

Many people who went into nursing homes were not in need of nursing at all--they just needed some assistance with daily living, but there was no other way to get care for the elderly.  With the coming of the boomer generation, the demand produced a product of the middle road--assisted living.

Assisted Living Housing

Assisted living is a win-win situation for everyone. As people age, and they are aging in greater numbers than ever before, people will need appropriate services for their stage of life. The idea is to have a home that will provide assistance for people who do not need nursing.  In fact, mobility is necessary to qualify.   Should mobility no longer exist, then a nursing home or other care is more appropriate than an assisted living facility.

The concept of assisted living means offering basic services for care such as lodging, meals, medication assistance and sometimes more personal care of bathing and dressing and more to one in need.  There may or may not be an additional level of care for residents with Alzheimer's or dementia, depending on the services offered at a particular facility. 

The average age of residents usually is early 80's but can range from 50's. There are usually more women than men but men find the facilities very helpful.

Seniors Aging

As the numbers of baby boomers increase every day, the types of senior housing expands.  In addition to assisted living and nursing home options, there are now specialized communities for memory care, active senior living and life care communities.

Aging in Place - Life Care Communities

Continuing care communities are life care communities that offer independent living and an assisted living option, should it ever be needed.

The idea is that people interested in these communities will not have to move as they age or even if they become incapacitated, unlike purely assisted living communities where mobility is required in order to stay. This means at some point it may become necessary to move the resident out of the facility to provide the proper care.

Entrance Deposits

It is important to check the financial stability of this type of community if a refund of a large deposit is promised back. A large deposit is usually part of a CCRC but not always. Also, please check the services offered and the type of community.

Specialized senior care for alzheimer's and dementia:

Some assisted facilities specialize in memory issues such as Alzheimer's treatment and other dementias. The facility may be designated entirely for memory care, a recent trend, or be another level of assisted living.  

These facilities are more costly than basic assisted living because the resident requires more services or more time.   If Alzheimer's runs in a family, the person may wish to consider a long term insurance policy at an early age.   Please check with experts for the best course of action if you wish to ensure you can pay for assisted senior housing. 

Alzheimer's disease is the most prevalent and serious of all the dementia disorders and requires specialized treatment. There are many senior facilities today devoted only to this disease due to the increasing demand as the baby boomer generation ages.

A person may start out in independent and assisted living, and, if it becomes necessary, may need to move up to a unit for memory care residents.

Today there is not yet a cure for Alzheimer's, but there are many therapies and medicines that help care for those with this disease and other dementias.

Family Caregiver Help

Adult Children Giving Care

Assisted living facilities helps adult children who are working and cannot stay home and care for their parents as they might like. 

Seniors are encouraged to enter senior living apartments Instead of adult children giving care.   Aging parents, who are usually at first reluctant, are happy because today's assisted living facilities are more like a welcoming home and less like an institution with new modern attitudes and social programs. They also encourage independence.

Also, an independent senior living community might be preferred. This type of community has both senior living and some assistance available as an option.  Independent and Assisted communities want their facilities to be a real home.  More and more, assisted living communities and facilities today have wellness goals and programs aimed to keep people living longer independently. 

A wonderful organization for aiding in this complex matter is The Rosalynn Carter Institute  for caregivers.  See Rosalyn Carter's paper on this subject.

There are more types of assisted living facilities than active retirement communities and more of them.   It is important to match the services offered with your needs and it is this availability of specific care that makes them so valuable. 

Senior Citizen Apartments

It is becoming more prevalent that there are people in assisted living facilities who need minimal assistance such as with having

  • meals 
  • housekeeping 
  • medication monitoring 
  • laundry 


  • Some continue to work.
  • They just want to take life easier.
  • There are other residents at assisted living facilities who feel they cannot live alone but wish to remain independent as long as possible. 


Costs of Housing For Seniors

One drawback to assisted living is the cost.  Many people who could benefit cannot afford assisted living. We are asking the question, "can we find ways to make assisted living more affordable so that more people can benefit."

An Important Concept:

How to make care affordable is a challenge of assisted living today.  I am greatly impressed at anyone or associations that are working to solve this problem.  It is our greatest need:  Care for the caregiver and for the aging senior.  

Option:  Some areas are far less costly than others to live in and  that can be an option. But not everyone can move and it is recommended that seniors be near family.   There are also low income facilities with income limits but these are relatively few.  So far, costs have risen every year and may continue to do so as demand increases. 

Worldwide Problem--Care for the Aged

Assisted living is becoming important internationally as the world population is aging, not just the United States.  China's population is aging faster and is much larger than our own.

All the world's nations are modeling their communities after the United States to a significant degree and all are sharing ideas.  It is becoming easier for Americans to retire in foreign countries that may have a lower cost of living, and due to this sharing, assisted living facilities in other parts of the world are much like our own. 

Assisted living as an industry is only just beginning to bloom and continues to evolve, as our world population is turning grey, to meet the specific demands of baby boomers.

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