Assisted Living 

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Whatis-AL-1 What is assisted living?

Assisted living offers around-the-clock caregiver oversight and assistance in a community that promotes wellness and enhances independence. Residents have complete autonomy over their home, finances, activities, and visitors. Find out more about assisted living using the links below.

What is assisted living? A complete guide.

Assisted living offers around-the-clock caregiver oversight and assistance in a community that promotes wellness and enhances independence. Residents experience the peace of mind that comes with knowing someone is always available to assist in case of emergency while enjoying a maintenance-free lifestyle with access to amenities like dining, engaging events excursions, housekeeping services, access to transportation, and on-site features like a salon, theater, library, and other gathering spaces.

Read more in our complete guide, "What is Assisted Living?"

Assisted living age requirements

For most independent and assisted living communities, seniors as young as 55 can take advantage of living in a vibrant senior living community. There is no upper age limit.

Read more about assisted living age requirements in our blog article "How Old Do You Have to Be for Senior Living?"

Assisted living levels of care

Generally, it is common to find communities that feature 2-4 levels of care, including residential living, skilled nursing, memory care, assisted living, and rehabilitation.

Read more about the differences between levels of care in assisted living.

Activities of daily living

Activities of daily living, in general terms, are the daily tasks we all complete to care for ourselves, including bathing, dressing, eating, transferring (moving oneself), toileting, and continence.

As we get older, we might need some support with these tasks. Senior living communities often base their type of care on how many activities of daily living the potential new resident needs assistance with.

Read more about activities of daily living!

Types of therapy offered in assisted living

Assisted living residents can work with physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language therapists, and even respiratory therapists in their apartments or throughout their senior community. Each kind of therapy has a different purpose and could be utilized on a short-term or long-term basis.

Read more about types of therapy offered in assisted living!

Assisted living vs. independent living

Assisted living offers around-the-clock caregiver presence to support seniors with activities of daily living, including dressing, grooming, showering, mobility, and medication management. Independent living offers the same maintenance-free living as assisted living, but without the 24-hour support from trained caregivers and nurses.

Read more about the differences between assisted living vs independent living!

Assisted living vs. skilled nursing

Skilled nursing offers ongoing care to seniors with chronic, significant medical needs such as daily IV medication, hospice care, rehabilitation from an injury, daily intensive medical care, or support in the late stages of severe disease. Assisted living helps with needs such as mobility impairment, chronic or progressive illness, or mild to moderate dementia, and help with daily activities is available.

Read more about assisted living vs. skilled nursing and what the differences are!

Assisted living vs. memory care

There are four main differences between assisted living and memory care: staff training, specialized activities, specialized environments.

Read more about assisted living vs. memory care!

Assisted living vs. nursing home

The biggest difference between nursing homes and assisted living communities is assisted living is designed to be more similar to home, whereas a nursing home is designed to be a more clinical environment. Cost is also a huge difference. According to, the median cost for a private room in a nursing home in the U.S. was about $9,000 per month in 2021 — twice the median cost of an assisted living facility apartment, which came in at $4,500 per month.

Read more about assisted living vs. nursing homes!

Assisted living vs. residential care

In residential care, rooms may be private or shared, whereas bathrooms, living rooms, and dining rooms are usually shared. By contrast, assisted living communities tend to be larger than residential care facilities, and residents are most often housed in apartments decorated with their own furniture and often featuring kitchenettes.

Read more about assisted living vs. residential care.

Assisted living facts

Here are five facts about assisted senior living:

1. You may live longer in assisted living.

2. Seniors in communities are happier than those who live alone.

3. You can live in luxury.

4. You can gain more family.

5. Assisted living is surprisingly affordable! 

Read more detail about these 5 assisted living facts!

AL-Cost-1 Cost of assisted living

The cost of assisted living varies depending on the region, the quality of the community, and the services offered. On average, assisted living communities cost about $4,000 per month nationwide. However, the exact amount you'll pay depends on a number of factors. Explore the links below to find out more about assisted living costs near you.

How much does assisted living cost?

In 2021, the national median cost for assisted living was $4,500 per month. Remember the cost of assisted living includes rent, maintenance, dining, social activities, and more. 

Learn more about assisted living costs and if it is worth it for you!

How to pay for assisted living

Assisted living can be paid for by using a combination of savings, Social Security benefits, pension payments and retirement.

Read more about how to pay for assisted living and calculating the costs.

Assisted living cost calculator — compare the cost vs. staying at home

Assisted living might make more sense for you than staying at home! A single monthly bill for assisted living often includes the cost of care, housing, housekeeping, meals, utilities, maintenance, entertainment, and more.

Compare your cost of senior living vs. staying home with our helpful tool!

Who pays for assisted living when the money runs out?

Medicaid will not pay for assisted living expenses, but Medicaid can pay for assisted living if someone qualifies to be in assisted living and has run out of income or assets. There are other options to help you pay for assisted living as well. Read more about who pays for assisted living when the money runs out!

VA benefits for assisted living

You might be able to get VA benefits to help pay for assisted living care, depending on your income and the level of your service. Surviving spouses can get $1,244 a month to pay for their care. Veterans certainly get more, but surviving spouses are still eligible for about $15,000 a year tax-free because of their spouse's service record, even if they may have never had any contact with the VA.

Learn more about understanding VA benefits for assisted living in our video webinar!

AL-Requirements-1 Finding & transitioning to assisted living

When health or functional abilities decline, it becomes more and more difficult for older adults to stay at home safely. It may be necessary to have a conversation about the dangers of living alone and the benefits of moving to assisted living. This way, they can make an informed decision that is best for their mental and physical health. View the links below for more information on helping loved ones seek care.

How to know it’s time for assisted living

Typically, changes in health, hygiene, management of daily tasks, and/or safety drive the decision to begin the conversation about whether it is time for assisted living. Isolation can also be a factor; assisted living can provide a community with people at the same life stage as you.

How do you know it is time for assisted living? Check out our full guide to assisted living.

How to get parents into assisted living

It can be difficult to convince a parent that it might be time to consider assisted living. 

Check out our guide "Talking to Your Parent About Senior Care & Living" for tips on: 

  • When to decide to talk to your parent about their senior living needs
  • How to make an honest evaluation of their situation
  • How to discuss and plan with other family members or caregivers

How to move a parent with dementia to assisted living

Recognizing the signs that it is time to move a parent with dementia into assisted living, starting the conversation, and finding a community can all be overwhelming and difficult.

Warning signs that could indicate that a move to senior living would be the safest and healthiest decision include:
  • Recent and frequent falls 
  • Wandering outside of the home and becoming lost
  • Increased confusion in general
  • Increasingly impaired judgment (e.g., wearing seasonally inappropriate clothing, mistakes while cooking)
  • Inability to manage personal hygiene consistently
  • Medication mistakes 
  • Increased anxiety, depression, or paranoia
  • Inability to safely make meals, including safely storing leftovers
  • Resistance to inviting home health workers or other caregivers into the home
  • Sleeplessness
  • Inability to manage daily household tasks


Read our blog post Compassionate Considerations for How to Move a Parent with Dementia to Assisted Living to see if assisted living might be right for your parent and find out what steps you can take.

How to find assisted living

When considering senior living communities, the first step is to determine what services and support are needed to keep your loved one healthy, happy, and safe now and in the future. Then you can begin searching for assisted living communities in your area to add to your “to-tour” list.

Next, if you have friends or family members who have experience with a local assisted living community, ask them for their thoughts and recommendations. Finally, you can enlist the assistance of your local Area Agency on Aging.

Read all of the steps to finding assisted living near you on our blog.


What questions to ask an assisted living community

Here are a few questions to ask an assisted living community:

  • Do you have apartments available now?
  • What services does my monthly fee include? What types of activities and events do you offer?
  • Do you offer on-site health services?
  • What flexible options are there for meals?
  • What training and experience do staff members have?
  • What is your philosophy of senior care?What happens when I need additional services?

See our full list of questions to ask an assisted living community before and during a tour!

Moving from assisted living to memory care

Transitions can be difficult, particularly for seniors with dementia. If your loved one’s dementia is progressing, it may be time to shift from assisted living to memory care. The decision can be a difficult one because there is no single guideline for deciding when it’s time to make a change. Financial considerations can weigh heavily on your mind, too, because the higher level of care at a memory care community typically comes with a higher price tag.

Choosing a community that helps residents make a seamless transition can make the decision easier. Families considering a senior living community for their loved one should weigh what might happen if the loved one eventually needs memory care. A continuum of care in the same community can offer immense comfort to seniors and those who love them.

For more, read our blog post When Is the Right Time to Move From Assisted Living to Memory Care? 


AL-Requirements-1 Assisted living accommodations


Assisted living accommodations usually take the form of a complex of apartments or group home and typically include 24-hour access to staff who can provide assistance. Assisted living accommodations can come fully furnished or unfurnished and can be rented or bought. There are also various rules around eligibility and requirements. View the links below for more information around assisted living accommodations.

Furniture for assisted living apartments

Assisted living apartments may feature less floor space than you are accustomed to. You should refer to available floor plans to get an idea of the layout of your new apartment, but below are a few general guidelines.

What to bring: a comfortable bed and living room furniture.

What to skip: large or clunky pieces, such as oversized china cabinets, entertainment centers, and sideboards; sell or donate them instead. 

Read more about what furniture to bring to assisted living apartments! 


Assisted living — rental vs. ownership

Whether to rent vs. own your assisted living apartment can be a difficult decision.

Renting is a good option if you prefer an all-inclusive approach that ensures that someone will always be available to make repairs, you live on a fixed or very tight income, or you have a terminal condition.

Owning your assisted living apartment is a good option if you are young and relatively healthy, you do not have a chronic or progressive condition, or you want total control over your home.

Read more about owning vs. renting in assisted living.

Can my spouse live with me in assisted living?

Yes! Your spouse can live with you in assisted living. Depending on the community you choose, this might mean you pay for assisted living and they pay for independent living in the same apartment. Be sure to ask how costs are allocated and whether you’ll both have to pay the higher assisted living price tag. Read more about what life is like living with your loved one in assisted living.