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Assisted living communities or assisted living facilities (ALFs) help promote health, safety and well-being among the senior residents that live there. Assisted living was developed as a type of senior housing to provide housing, health care and personal care services to seniors in need of assistance with activities of daily living in a more independent environment than a traditional nursing home.

Among assisted living communities there is a wide variation in the level of care that may be provided. Some assisted living communities specialize in providing a supportive and safe environment for seniors who are largely independent but need some minor periodic assistance with activities of daily living or medication management. Other assisted living providers have designed their services specifically for the very frail elderly who need a very high level of assistance on a daily basis. These assisted living facilities have become a substitute for nursing homes and frequently provide many, though not all, of the same care services as a skilled nursing facility. It is important to know what type of environment each assisted living community caters to so that your loved one will be most comfortable.

There are over 36,000 assisted living options to choose from in the United States.

Assisted Living

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Assisted living communities charge a refundable deposit fee, which secures a particular apartment within the community for a specific period of time (usually two weeks). Once a resident moves in, this deposit usually applies towards a community fee (terms for the name of this fee may vary).

Ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, this fee is non-refundable and covers administrative expenses and the cost of apartment renovations between residents. Other assisted living costs may include fees for private transportation, off-site activities, guest meals and use of a guest apartment within the community.

Additional Costs for Assisted Living.

Level of Care Required

What is Assisted Living?

  • Also Known As: Assisted Care Community

  • Payment Sources: Mostly private pay, some take Medicaid

  • Price Range: $3000 to $6000 per month depending on the size of apartment and level of assistance required, Alzheimer’s care ranges from $3800 to $5500 for a shared suite

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Upon admission and when residents require assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), an assessment by a licensed nurse is provided to determine additional assisted living costs for care services. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, assisted living residents need help with 3 or more ADLs on average. More than half of all seniors residing in assisted living communities require help with preparing meals, managing their medications and bathing.

Activity of Daily Living % of Residents Needing Help

Medication Management 81%
Meal Preparation 87%
Bathing 72%
Dressing 52%
Toileting 36%
Transferring 25%
Eating 22%

*From the National Center for Assisted Living Resident Profile.

In most cases, a point system or levels of care are used to represent the costs for assisted living services. When a point system is used, each type of care and the frequency in which it’s provided determines the assisted living cost. For example, medication management/administration once a day may cost an additional $150 per month while the same service provided three times a day may cost an additional $300 per month.

Levels of care may be based upon a point system as well, with this type of cost determination often providing less flexibility in assisted living costs. For example, a resident may fall between a Level One and a Level Two but they must pay for Level Two care as their needs exceed Level One.