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Assisted Living: Long-term Care Options

Assisted living advantages and costs

Assisted living offers seniors the benefits of independence while providing the extra support they need to maintain that freedom. How popular is assisted living? According to,

"Just over 90 million people over 60 years of age lived in the United States as of 2004. Of those 90 million, roughly 58% needed or used assisted living care."

What exactly is assisted living and what does it include?

Services of assisted living

Assisted living facilities are licensed and regulated through the individual states. The structures themselves can range from a small residential home to large condominium-type apartment buildings housing hundreds of residents. These residents usually live in their own apartment, giving them their own privacy. Aside from privacy, assisted living facilities provide activities that can include:

  • Daily meals preparation
  • Errand running or shopping
  • Housekeeping services

Each assisted living complex is different, so what is "standard" at one might not be at another. In addition, prior to moving in, many assisted living care facilities will do an assessment of the senior. The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) has developed a number of tools and resources designed to provide valuable information for residents, families and providers and are designed to ensure the best possible care is given.

What costs to expect with assisted living care

AARP estimates that the average monthly cost of assisted living facilities ranges from approximately $2,100 to $2,900. However, costs vary by region, by size of apartment and by amenities offered. Some facilties on the East Coast cost as much as $5,000 a month for a one-bedroom aparment. Residents pay for this out of pocket. Private insurance and public subsidies generally do not cover the full cost of staying in assisted living, and may only provide funding for additional services, depending on need. According to AARP, "Medicaid coverage of assisted living services is increasing gradually. In 2002, Medicaid helped pay for services for approximately 11% of assisted living residents in 41 states."

In addition, there are a variety of solutions into making assisted living more affordable. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has an assisted living conversion program as well as mortgage programs designed to aid seniors in converting their home assets to an assisted living facility. The Center for Excellence in Assisted Living is also working with the federal government as well as state agencies to ensure the quality of assisted living, especially with providing assisted living services to lower income individuals.

Although assisted living can be expensive, with a little research there are ways that a senior, or their loved ones, can offset some of the costs.