Assisted Living Care

What You Should Know About Assisted Living Care
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What is assisted living?

  • An assisted-living community provides communal living, often with planned activities, housekeeping and laundry, transportation, meals, exercise and wellness programs, opportunities to socialize with other residents, assistance with activities of daily living, and some medical care.

  • An assisted-living community could be an apartment building, a campus-like setting, or even a large converted house. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), most have between 24 and 120 units that vary in size from a single room to a full apartment. Residents generally have a lot of freedom in terms of what they do and when they do it, but they should also get plenty of support from trained caregivers.

  • Assisted living is regulated (and defined) by each state rather than by the federal government, so you can expect a wide variation in what each community offers. Make sure you know exactly what the one you've selected provides before the person in your care moves in.

Read Reviews for Assisted Living Providers Near You

Who's a good candidate for an assisted-living community?

Assisted living falls somewhere between an independent living community and a skilled nursing facility in terms of the level of care provided. If the person in your care is beginning to need help with the basic activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, grooming, walking, managing medications, toileting, and eating) -- or expects to need that help down the line -- she may find this support at a good assisted-living community. If an older adult has a serious medical condition that requires specialized care, assisted living may not be the right choice, although some assisted-living communities do have specialized wings that provide skilled nursing or Alzheimer's care.

How can we find a good assisted living community? has a searchable nationwide database of senior care of all types, including assisted living. Your local Area Agency on Aging can also help you find communities in your area, and your state or regional long-term care ombudsman may also be able to help. You can also consult with an expert in transitioning, such as a geriatric care manager or a senior move manager, who will be familiar with communities in your area.

How Much Assisted Living Costs

What can we expect to pay?

  • Costs and payment plans will vary, but most assisted-living communities charge a flat fee to enter and a monthly rate after that. In many, the monthly rate may increase as the person's need for hands-on care and assistance with activities of daily living increase.

  • Some, however, have a fee structure more like that at a continuing care retirement community, where residents pay a significantly larger entrance fee but the monthly rate is set and shouldn't go up even if their needs change.

  • Most communities will start with a monthly rate of at least $2,000, and some can go as high as $10,000, says Donna Quinn Robbins, CEO of [Ultimate Moves][] and author of Moving Mom and Dad. According to ALFA, the median monthly rate for assisted living is $2,350, about two-thirds of what it would cost to stay in a skilled nursing facility.

  • Make sure you ask whether (and how much) costs will rise if care levels increase, advises Robbins, and whether the monthly rate is all-inclusive or there are additional fees for particular services.

  • Also find out how much the annual cost-of-living increase has been for the past few years, and whether they will refund your deposit if you change your mind or things don't work out.

Do government programs cover any of the cost?

Government support for the cost of assisted living is very limited, and the great majority of residents pay for their care themselves (or with family support).

How to Choose Assisted Living

  • Once you've narrowed down your choices, you and the person you're caring for should ask to visit the community several times, share a meal, and meet staff and residents.

  • If either of you, or a family member, has friends or acquaintances who have moved into assisted-living communities, try to arrange visits with them, ideally at mealtimes, and find out what their experiences have been.

  • Ask to look at the weekly menu, the list of activities, and the residents' agreement, which should outline both services and costs.

  • Look for emergency call systems in each room, and make sure staff are available to support residents around the clock.

  • ALFA has created a [consumer checklist][] that can help guide you through the process of checking out various assisted living communities. ALFA also provides a list of state agencies that oversee assisted living, which you can contact to see whether there have been any complaints about a community you're considering.

In the end, there's no substitute for going with your gut. "Talk to residents," suggests Robbins, "and look at how they are. Is it a place where people are sitting around with their heads hanging down, or is there activity? How does it feel? Walking into a community will tell you whether you'd want to live there."

Nell Bernstein

Nell Bernstein's writings have appeared on Salon. See full bio

over 4 years, said...

my parents are looking at this type of accommodation in the Malvern hills, UK , MB it comes at a cost !

over 5 years, said...

Residential assisted living costs are directly associated with the options you choose for your facility. There are some options you should not compromise on. For example, if you need a maximum care facility, you should pay the cost for this service. However, there are some costs that you can cut without compromising your health and safety. These costs are generally related with the housing facility or services that you will receive while you stay there.

almost 6 years, said...

Hello everyone, If you have had personal experience with a care provider or care agency, we encourage you to submit a review in our Senior Living Directory: (Please copy and paste the URL into your browser) Please keep the review guidelines in mind when submitting your experience and rating ( Thank you and kind regards, Sho of the Community Team

about 6 years, said...

yes i was kicked out of monroe guidance for going to walgreens and geting a non-narcotic musle relaxer for muscle spasms. they will not give me a second chance even though i am homeless and in need of there help desperatly. i feel its for personal reasons but Deann says its not,she says its for other reasons. all i wanted was a second chance and i was refused quite rudely i feel. Thx

over 6 years, said...

@accafi, Thanks for sharing! Consider submitting a review of that Assisted Living Facility in our Senior Living Directory. Please search for the facility by going to and clicking on "submit a review" on the listing page. We look forward to seeing your review!

over 6 years, said...

A Golden Haven ALF in Kissimmee, Florida is worthy of commendation. The service is superior and of good quality, efficient and caring staff and beautiful location. If you are looking for an ALF for your loved ones, A GOLDEN HAVEN is highly recommended.

over 6 years, said...

I work for a company that provides "Aging in Place" technology for seniors. It is a good alternative to assisted living because it monitors activity and health in the home. It is an internet based system that detects paterns of motion and alerts family or care givers when something is wrong. It also provides communication in the form of emails, text messages and virtual SKYPE conversations all available through an internet connection. It also has a touchscreen monitor that is so easy to operate. It is not for everyone but for some it is an cost effective alternative to assisted living or 24 hour care because it allows you to stay at home and age independently. Please contact me if you would like more information.

over 6 years, said...

Thank you for this generally comprehensive article on assisted living(AL). I would add that folks need to save, insure and invest to prepare for their own long-term care needs later. As you point out, AL can cost from $2000 to $8000 a month and can last for years. Even a person using home care needs funds to pay caregivers--even for their children who are impacting their income and prospects for a good retirement. Saving starts as young as possible. Insure for long-term care when you are still relatively healthy and have savings to lose and enough income to pay premiums of $500 to $2200 a year. Do not wait on this--your good health buys your LTC insurance--money just pays for it. With Comprehensive coverage, home, assisted living, equipment and more is covered when 70% of us will face long-term care issues ourselves sometime after turning 65. See the Federal Gov't site

over 6 years, said...

My name is Brenda Huth and I am moving to north branch this weekend and I was wondering if any one is hiring for cna caregivers I have been one sense 1990 and i am looking for work.

over 6 years, said...

Hi Derek G, Thank you for your comment, I am sorry to hear about that situation. If you'd like, you can post your question in our Ask & Answer section, here: ( ). I hope that helps -- Emily | Community Manager

over 6 years, said...

What can I do as friend to an 80 yr old woman who lives in complete filth,her apartment wreaks of urine and feces,she walks with a walker,her foot is probably infected,she's a HOARDER,and she still employed by the STATE OF NEW JERSEY FOR OVER 40 YRS.....

almost 7 years, said...

Hi geronimo1983­, Thanks for your comment. If you'd like you can post your question in out Ask & Answer section here: ( I hope your friend feels better soon! Best, Emily | Community Manager

almost 7 years, said...

I have a good friend who has has Parkinson's for about 10 yrs. She is cared for by her husband and takes her own medications. She also adjusts her own meds, as needed. On Friday her blood pressure spiked up and down, and she passed out three times. She was taken to the hosp. where they are doing tests. Is this a common side effect of the disease? Could it be due to her adjusting her meds? It seems that adjusting your meds is common in Parkinson's, i.e., taking a little earlier/later, etc. Most tests are negative at this point.

about 7 years, said...

Be very careful when visiting Assisted Living Facilities. They are all FOR PROFIT operations. They will talk a very good game. Make sure you ask them what the fees are for everything from medication to daily or weekly help. Their fees add up very quickly. We are in the process of trying to find a safe, secure place for my parents and it has been a VERY stressful and upsetting experince. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THEIR SMOOTH TALKING APPROACH. In the end it will only be all about the money.

over 7 years, said...

My mom has been recovering from a bad car accident several months ago. Now because of her age (74) the recovery and rehab has been very slow and challenging. I never thought a nursing home or assisted living would be an option with our family but that's the crossroad we are now facing.Prayer changes things and God will make a way for our dear mother.PRAY

over 7 years, said...

send info on assisted living in colonial heights,hopewell,prince george,and petersburg va

over 7 years, said...

I am 63, a widow and am in poor health. I walk with a rollator, am diabetic, and have several other conditions. I live alone in a cabin 32 miles from town. I am still able to stay alone if someone gets my groceries but going to the dr. is almost out of the question since I can't get into the vehicles most of my friends drive. I live on less than $700 a month Social Security Disability/Veterans Benefits.... What, if any options are available to me when I can't stay alone any more?