Learning About Assisted Living

image for assisted living articleAssisted living is a long-term care option for seniors. When the medical care provided by a nursing home is more than is needed, but the resources in a retirement community are not enough, a person can opt for assisted living. Assisted living is a combination of housing, personalized support services, and healthcare designed to provide 24-hour assistance and supervision if needed.

Because each resident’s needs are different, assisted living residences provide a variety of services with varying levels of assistance for seniors. Services offered may include:

  • 3 meals a day served in a common dining area
  • Medication management
  • Housekeeping and maintenance services
  • Transportation
  • Assistance with personal care, such as bathing, eating, dressing, using the toilet, and waking
  • Access to health and medical services
  • Exercise and educational facilities
  • Laundry and linen service
  • Social, recreational, and religious activities

The residential setting of an assisted living facility can range from an apartment complex to a renovated brownstone to a converted school. The units are typically either studios or one-bedrooms that are furnished or unfurnished and include a private or shared bathroom and a kitchen. Regulations and licensing requirements vary from state to state.

The Cost of Assisted Living

The cost of assisted living varies according to the room size and types of services needed, and is highly variable across regions. For a one-bedroom apartment it may cost more than $3,000 per month based on research from senior living organizations. This can vary greatly though depending on the location and level of service you get.

Assisted Living Features

Here are some tips for what to look for in an assisted living setting:

  • Make an accurate and honest assessment of your needs, including physical, financial, and lifestyle. If you are not sure how to begin, contact a private geriatric care manager. Visit the Aging Life Care Association's website for a referral (http://www.aginglifecare.org).
  • Visit as many facilities as you can. This will help you to get a sense of what is available in your area.
  • Consider the proximity of the facility to those who will visit you.
  • Narrow down your selection to the top two or three choices, return to those facilities and speak with residents and staff. Ask lots of questions. Try some of the services offered, like eating a meal or taking an exercise class.
  • Ask for a copy of the resident agreement or contract.
  • Ask to review the licensing or certification inspection reports.
  • Call the local long-term care ombudsman’s office (the person who investigates complaints) and ask if there are complaints about the facilities you are interested in.
  • Make an unannounced visit to the facility. Visit at different times of the day and weekend.
  • Choose the facility that comes closest to your needs.

If you want to continue to live independently but require assistance with some activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation, managing medications, and housekeeping, assisted living may be right for you. Assisted living can provide security and independence, privacy and companionship, and physical and social well-being.


Aging Life Care Association

National Center for Assisted Living


Health Canada

Seniors Canada


Assisted living. Eldercare Locator—US Department of Health and Human Services website. Available at: http://www.eldercare.gov/eldercare.net/public/resources/factsheets/assisted_living.aspx. Updated October 6, 2017. Accessed October 9, 2017.

Assisted living: weighing the options. AARP website. Available at: http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving-resource-center/info-09-2010/ho_assisted_living_weighing_the_options.html. Published September 23, 2010. Accessed October 9, 2017.

The basics of assisted living. National Caregivers Library website. Available at: http://www.caregiverslibrary.org/caregivers-resources/grp-care-facilities/hsgrp-assisted-living-facilities/the-basics-of-assisted-living-article.aspx. Accessed October 9, 2017.

What is assisted living? About Assisted Living website. Available at: https://www.aboutassistedliving.org/what-is-assisted-living. Updated June 23, 2017. Accessed October 9, 2017.

Last reviewed October 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD, FAAP  Last Updated: 11/9/2015