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What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a senior housing option

An assisted living facility is a senior living option for those with minimal needs for assistance with daily living and care. It's purpose is to help adults live independently in a safe environment.

Aging in place is the option that most seniors prefer, but sometimes it is not the safest one to choose. If a person is unable to take care of their daily activity needs, like dressing, bathing, cooking, shopping, paying bills, and taking medications, it's time to rethink aging in place.

There is a huge movement among seniors that want to live at home and maintain independence but In some cases, aging in place is not a good idea. There are new regulations in place to help people who wish to stay at home, while they age.

State and Federal Regulations

There are no federal standards and regulations for assisted living facilities. Each state defines assisted living and sets the regulations for the entity.

Some federal laws impact assisted living communities but most oversight occurs at the state level. Most states are moving towards defining their assisted living facilities as such, whereas other states use different terms such as residential care facilities or personal care homes. Two thirds of states use the term assisted living.

It's important to note that some licensed assisted living facilities may care for other residents besides seniors, such as mentally challenged and those with special needs.

While the term "Assisted Living Facility" covers a wide range of facility types and care types, AssistedLivingFacilities.org is geared toward offering information for seniors.

Services Offered by Assisted Living

Although every state is different, most assisted living facilities offer:

  • Living accommodations
  • Meals
  • Supervision
  • Security
  • Assistance with ADLs

Additional services offered by assisted living communities include:

  • Medication management
  • Additional nursing services (by either staff or outsourced)
  • Social activities
  • Transportation
  • More intensive memory care

Types of Assisted Living

The types of senior living and assisted living fall between an independent living community and a nursing home, in terms of levels of care offered. A typical assisted living home might offer 24-hour personal care monitoring and support services like medication administration or bathing, while providing more freedom and privacy than a nursing home.

Depending upon the state location of the assisted living facility, the most common types offered are three types:

  • Assisted Living Facility Type I & Type II
  • Small Health Care Facility - Type N

Type I - Assisted living facility

The facility provides a safe and clean living place with three meals a day. A resident may require minimal assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), including significant assistance with up to two ADL's.

Residents in a Type I facilities:

  • Evacuate the facility under his own power (be mobile).
  • Have stable health and free from any communicable disease.
  • May receive assistance with medications or have medications administered by a nurse.
  • May receive home health services through individual contract with home health agency.
  • Receives 24-hour general monitoring, 7 days a week.
  • May receive general nursing care according to facility policy.
  • Participate in developing a service plan

Type II - Assisted living facility

The facility provides full assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs).

Residents in a Type II facilities:

  • May require the assist of one person for transfers or to evacuate.
  • May receive assistance with medication or have medications administered by a nurse.
  • Receive general nursing care from facility staff.
  • Be free of communicable diseases that could be transmitted to others through the normal course of activities.
  • Receive 24 hour individualized personal and health-related services, 7 days a week.
  • May receive home health services through individual contract with a home health agency.
  • Participate in developing a service plan

Small Health Care Facility

(limited in the number of residents)

Residents in a Small Health Care facilities:

  • Lives in a licensed home occupied by the owner or operator.
  • Receives supervised nursing care on a daily basis from a written plan of care.
  • Receives assistance with medications or receives medication administration by a nurse.
  • Be free of communicable diseases and does not require 24 hour nursing care or inpatient hospital care.
  • May be dependent.
  • Receive total assist with ADL
  • Receives 24 hour direct care staff for monitoring and assistance.
  • May receive rehabilitative services through individual contract with a home health agency.


What are the Physical Characteristics of an Assisted Living Facility

Assisted living facilities strive to include homelike qualities. Studies show that two factors affect the older adult to successfully adjust to a new surroundings:

1. Their personal needs get met

2. The previous home and the new surrounding has similar characteristics and environmental connections.

The more autonomy and choice a resident is given, the less health complications than facilities where choices were less frequent.

Characteristics of Assisted LivingCharacteristics of Assisted Living

The physical characteristics range from a house or small building with just a few beds to a large senior living campus with multiple buildings and hundreds of beds.

In our facility directory, we state the number of beds, giving you an idea as to the size of the facility. Each state is different, and has different licensing requirements, so it is important to know what type of care facility is preferred.

Most senior living facilities offer a high level of privacy. Despite the 24-hour trained staff, residents find the same amount of privacy as they would within a standard apartment complex. Decorated and personally arranged rooms give residents the comfort of home. Since there is no need for nursing home type equipment, assisted living care homes offer more of a community type atmosphere, with the added comfort of assistance from trained staff within the facility.

Assisted Living Residents

Residents are senior citizens who need some assistance with everyday life but do not need intensive care as offered in nursing homes. They are capable of living on their own and they're in decent health. Since states license and regulate assisted living, some licensed facilities cater to mentally handicapped persons or persons with special needs. Read "Who lives in an Assisted Living Facilities" for more details about the typical resident.

The most valuable service assisted living offers is medical assistance from a trained staff. If residents are partially incapacitated from illness or injury, the staff assist residents with needed care, while allowing the resident to enjoy and maintain a normal social lifestyle.

Assisted living is a great option for senior citizens in need of a bit more care than independent living, but not wanting the confines of a nursing home.


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Questions from Our Readers

Got a question? Click here to ask your question about assisted living

  • Section 8 Housing and Assisted Living
  • How to get mom on waiting lists for low income senior housing? (And how to move states).
  • If a person owns a home, and is needing immediate assisted living....
  • If you have memory loss or Alzheimers, is assisted living a good option?
  • How does the state of Pennsylvania define the difference between Personal Care and Assisted Living? How does this impact on the survey done by DPW on the facility? Who decides if the facility is operating under the correct license? Think some facilities will try to pass themselves off as a PC when they should be AL, how will this be handled? Seems DPW created more confusion instead of explaining the difference between the 2.
  • Are there any assisted living facilities in Florida that offer 2 bedroom/2 bath apts?
  • ALFs with large apartments - how to find
  • How do I know if assisted living is a good option for me?
  • What do we owe, where do we send payment ?
  • I'm looking for an assisted living place that is secure and locked where resisents can't leave on their own, but is not mainly for memory care
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