What is assisted living?

Assisted living is most easily defined as programs or facilities for people (usually seniors) who need assistance with some daily tasks, but are still able to live and function for the most part on their own. Some of the daily tasks assisted living residents might require help with are these: cooking and meal preparation, cleaning and household chores, bathing, dressing, ambulating, and the monitoring or regulation of medications. Assisted living is most commonly for seniors who might have issues with memory, periods of confusion or a limited range of physical activity. According to the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), there are currently over 1 million Americans in over 20,000 assisted living residences.1

In general, assisted living facilities will create an individualized service plan for each resident so every person receives exactly the services he or she needs while still being able to maintain his or her current lifestyle. The services and level or care available can vary depending on the location, as this part of the healthcare sector is not entirely regulated by the federal government; as a result, each state sets its own licensing requirements, regulations and inspection procedures.

It is also important to note that names and common terms associated with assisted living have totaled more than 25 across the U.S.; however the term "assisted living" is the most generally accepted across the country. Some alternative terms are these: personal care, residential care, congregate care, adult congregate care, board and care, domiciliary care, adult living facilities, supported care, enhanced care, community based retirement, adult foster care, sheltered housing and retirement residences.2


  1 Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA). Accessed January 9, 2009. http://www.alfa.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3285  
  2 Assistedlivinginfo.com. Found on the "What is Assisted Living" page. Accessed December 9, 2008. http://www.assistedlivinginfo.com/alserve.html