Young caretaker making a geriatric pensioner in a wheelchair lau

What Is Assisted Living 

Assisted living is what the name implies, a facility that residents live in that provides assistance for everyday living tasks. However, the level of care in these facilities can vary greatly, from providing meals and planning community events to full-time care; thus, it is important to identify your needs before moving forward with any particular facility.

Who is the Typical Assisted Living Resident? 

According to the Overview, published by The National Center for Assisted Living, here’s what they found:

  1. Typical Resident – The typical resident is a woman about 87 years old who is mobile but needs assistance with approximately two to three activities of daily living. She would have two to three of the Top 10 chronic conditions.
  2. Percentage Of All Residents By Age Groups: In 2010, 54 percent of assisted living residents were 85 years or older; 7 percent were 75-84 years old; 9 percent of residents were between 65 and 74 years, and 11 percent were younger than 65 years old.
  3. Gender – Seventy-four percent of assisted living residents are female; 26 percent are male.
  4. The number of Residents – More than 735,000 people nationwide live in assisted living settings.
  5. Activities of Daily Living – Thirty-eight percent of residents received assistance with three or more needs. View more detailed stats about activities of daily living among assisted living residents.

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How Long Do People Live at Assisted Living Facilities 

Most seniors who move into assisted living facilities move there with the intent to live the rest of their lives there. However, many assisted living facilities offer short-term care options. Doctors sometimes use these facilities as a form of outpatient care after surgery. Patients may need assistance with daily life tasks such as getting dressed or cooking in the wake of their procedure, however, after a period they will recover and return home.  

CDC found the average length of stay for residents assisted living stays are as follows: 35% of residents stay one year or more, 16% stay 3 years or more, 15% stay over 5 years, 14% stay 6 months or less, 9% stay more than 3 months, and 9% less than 3 months.

How Independent Does Someone Have to be to Live in Assisted Living? 

Assisted living residents typically still manage their lives on their own except when they require assistance with daily activities and when their health begins to decline. Therefore, assisted living care homes help with housekeeping, transportation, toileting, dressing, and cooking. 

Medical monitoring is available to help with medication management and other minor care they require.

In the CDC study, they found that the health of residents living in assisted living experience the following: 5% are in excellent health, 16% are in very good health, 38% of the residents are in good health, 32% are in fair health, and 10% are in poor health.

Do Assisted Living Residents Still Drive? 

Since seniors who live in assisted living facilities are typically quite independent, it is very common for them to both be able to drive still and keep cars in the facility use at their disposal. The Center for Disease Control (2010 study of Residential Care Facilities) found that 96% of all residents who first move into a facility can drive.

Can Someone Who Doesn’t Speak English Live in Assisted Living? 

There may be some anxiety around sending your loved one to a facility where their native language is not spoken. However, this is no reason that they should be denied care and the CDC study found that 14% of the residents at assisted living facilities have limited English or no English at all.

There are a variety of ways that a language barrier can be crossed; a caregiver within the facility can speak the resident’s native language, a family member may be able to translate as needed, or the caregivers may use non-verbal cues and hand signals to communicate. 

When caring for the non-English speaking resident, 56% of the Caregivers speak the resident’s native language.

29% of residents with limited English skills rely on family members to translate.

Of the residents with little English-speaking skills, 64% communicate with the staff using non-verbal cueing, hand signs, or gestures.

Can Married Couples Move into Assisted Living? 

Married couples move into assisted living facilities together all the time. There are a few benefits to this. Both spouses are there to look after one another as well as it provides a continuum of care for the future if either need help at any time

Senior black couple on the laptop computer

Can Young People Move into Assisted Living Facilities? 

Most assisted living communities for older adults to have age limits for admission, usually 55+. However, some will allow younger adults to move in depending on their age, diagnosis, disability, and compatibility with the general older population.

Can People with Disabilities Live in Assisted Living 

Assisted living communities are a good choice for seniors and people with physical disabilities who need help with tasks such as bathing, dressing, eating, taking medications, and using the restroom. 

If a disability significantly limits mobility, then assisted living may not be a good choice because oftentimes residents live in independent suites or apartments in assisted living facilities. 

Who Should Not Live in An Assisted Living Facility 

Assisted living is not a good choice for people who are still able to live independently, as the unneeded services may result in a higher cost than independent living facilities. However, it can still be a good choice for those who are mostly independent now but will need support for daily living in the not-too-distant future, since many have programs and services designed to help seniors transition from a low level of care to a more comprehensive care plan.

Additionally, assisted living may not be a good choice for people with significant mobility constraints or in need of memory care unless the facility specifically caters to these needs. 

Lastly, it is important to know if you or your loved one may be in need of memory care. If so, it is important to ensure your facility of choice has those options available. 

Once you have decided that an assisted living facility is right for you or your loved one, check out our blog on 5 Tips to Finding the Right Senior Care Facility for You