The Complete Guide to Assisted Living In The U.S.
Assisted living (AL) is a senior care option that provides care related to activities of daily living. It’s a step up from independent living, but not as intensive as a nursing home.
Your loved one might benefit from senior living if they need assistance with:
- meal preparation
- bathing and personal grooming
These are services known as activities of daily living, or ADL. At an assisted living home, your loved one will have 24-hour care and daily wellness check-ins to ensure their health and safety at all times. Many assisted living homes in the U.S. provide apartments ranging in size, with shared spaces for dining and socializing.
What Is Assisted Living for Seniors?
Assisted living is a senior care option for people 65 years and older who could benefit from 24-hour supervision and assistance with activities of daily living. Some communities allow adults 55 years and older, though this is less common.
At an assisted living home, you’ll find a wide range of care related to ADL services such as:
- bathing or showering
- using the restroom
- getting in and out of a wheelchair, bed, or chair
Assisted Living Services
The services offered will vary depending on the facility and level of care you choose for your loved one. Typically, assisted living homes provide:
- 24-hour care and supervision
- up to three meals daily
- programs focused on health and wellness
- interest-based clubs and groups
- housekeeping services
- an on-site clinic
- medication management
- personal care services (ADL services)
- haircutting services
- emergency care
- laundry services
- social gatherings and entertainment
- massage therapy
Assisted Living Vs. Nursing Homes
An assisted living home is a safe space for older adults to reside and get 24-hour supervision and care.
A nursing home offers the most intensive level of care, providing services for older adults in a medical environment rather than a home-like community as with assisted living.
The biggest difference between the two options is that nursing homes offer skilled nurses who can help seniors who have complex medical issues and need constant care.
If your loved one has an ongoing serious medical condition that requires full-time care, a nursing home might be the right option. Or, if your loved one only needs assistance with daily life tasks, senior assisted living could best suit their needs.
Medical Care at Assisted Living Homes
Assisted living homes are not nursing homes, so they do not provide intensive medical care. However, you can find specialized services for a number of memory issues or chronic conditions at an AL home that do not require full-time assistance.
Specialized care may be available for chronic conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Pulmonary disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Urinary incontinence
- End-Stage Renal disease
Assisted Living Cost in the U.S.
The average cost of assisted living in the U.S. is $4,000 monthly and $48,000 annually.
Many facilities offer a lower price point ranging from about $2,500 to $3,500. Others may charge between $5,000 and $10,000 monthly for greater access to amenities, a more intensive level of care, and additional services.
The average cost of assisted living can vary greatly depending on the location within a state, the level of care needed, and the amenities offered by the facility.
Average monthly and yearly cost ranges for assisted living in each state:
- Alabama: $2,065 – $5,760 per month; $24,780 – $69,120 per year
- Alaska: $3,500 – $7,000 per month; $42,000 – $84,000 per year
- Arizona: $2,750 – $6,500 per month; $33,000 – $78,000 per year
- Arkansas: $2,050 – $4,900 per month; $24,600 – $58,800 per year
- California: $3,150 – $8,000 per month; $37,800 – $96,000 per year
- Colorado: $3,500 – $6,300 per month; $42,000 – $75,600 per year
- Connecticut: $3,850 – $9,575 per month; $46,200 – $114,900 per year
- Delaware: $3,430 – $7,200 per month; $41,160 – $86,400 per year
- Florida: $2,500 – $6,440 per month; $30,000 – $77,280 per year
- Georgia: $2,650 – $5,950 per month; $31,800 – $71,400 per year
- Hawaii: $4,300 – $6,750 per month; $51,600 – $81,000 per year
- Idaho: $2,650 – $4,630 per month; $31,800 – $55,560 per year
- Illinois: $2,000 – $7,450 per month; $24,000 – $89,400 per year
- Indiana: $2,450 – $5,695 per month; $29,400 – $68,340 per year
- Iowa: $2,480 – $5,305 per month; $29,760 – $63,660 per year
- Kansas: $3,000 – $5,535 per month; $36,000 – $66,420 per year
- Kentucky: $2,550 – $6,565 per month; $30,600 – $78,780 per year
- Louisiana: $2,550 – $5,800 per month; $30,600 – $69,600 per year
- Maine: $4,395 – $7,185 per month; $52,740 – $86,220 per year
- Maryland: $3,800 – $8,100 per month; $45,600 – $97,200 per year
- Massachusetts: $4,270 – $7,875 per month; $51,240 – $94,500 per year
- Michigan: $2,300 – $6,950 per month; $27,600 – $83,400 per year
- Minnesota: $3,000 – $7,900 per month; $36,000 – $94,800 per year
- Mississippi: $2,100 – $5,335 per month; $25,200 – $64,020 per year
- Missouri: $2,000 – $6,520 per month; $24,000 – $78,240 per year
- Montana: $3,000 – $4,800 per month; $36,000 – $57,600 per year
- Nebraska: $2,890 – $6,050 per month; $34,680 – $72,600 per year
- Nevada: $2,500 – $5,275 per month; $30,000 – $63,300 per year
- New Hampshire: $4,550 – $7,650 per month; $54,600 – $91,800 per year
- New Jersey: $3,500 – $10,750 per month; $42,000 – $129,000 per year
- New Mexico: $3,000 – $5,525 per month; $36,000 – $66,300 per year
- New York: $3,700 – $11,335 per month; $44,400 – $136,020 per year
- North Carolina: $2,895 – $6,125 per month; $34,740 – $73,500 per year
- North Dakota: $3,025 – $5,935 per month; $36,300 – $71,220 per year
- Ohio: $2,050 – $6,925 per month; $24,600 – $83,100 per year
- Oklahoma: $2,200 – $4,750 per month; $26,400 – $57,000 per year
- Oregon: $3,425 – $6,400 per month; $41,100 – $76,800 per year
- Pennsylvania: $2,475 – $7,550 per month; $29,700 – $90,600 per year
- Rhode Island: $4,385 – $6,700 per month; $52,620 – $80,400 per year
- South Carolina: $2,550 – $5,815 per month; $30,600 – $69,780 per year
- South Dakota: $3,280 – $4,830 per month; $39,360 – $57,960 per year
- Tennessee: $2,175 – $5,935 per month; $26,100 – $71,220 per year
- Texas: $2,000 – $7,650 per month; $24,000 – $91,800 per year
- Utah: $2,795 – $4,795 per month; $33,540 – $57,540 per year
- Vermont: $4,175 – $6,800 per month; $50,100 – $81,600 per year
- Virginia: $2,600 – $7,395 per month; $31,200 – $88,740 per year
- Washington: $3,750 – $6,940 per month; $45,000 – $83,280 per year
- West Virginia: $3,000 – $5,020 per month; $36,000 – $60,240 per year
- Wisconsin: $2,750 – $6,450 per month; $33,000 – $77,400 per year
- Wyoming: $3,000 – $6,030 per month; $36,000 – $72,360 per year
How to Pay for Assisted Living
Q: What fees are there for assisted living?
A: You can expect to pay an up-front fee, known as a reservation deposit. This might equal out to up to two months of rent — about $8,000 based on the U.S. average.
You’ll then be charged monthly rent and fees for any additional services not provided in your chosen care package.
Q: Who pays for assisted living?
A: The cost of assisted living may be covered in part by Medicaid, Medicare, other sources of state funding, senior care programs offered by the VA, or private health insurance.
However, this coverage is often limited, as most health insurance plans do not cover long-term care. These plans may cover certain services, but won’t pay for the majority of the expenses — the rest must be paid out of pocket.
For example, Medicaid may cover medical expenses (such as medications and doctor’s visits), but won’t always cover the cost of room and board or additional services provided in an assisted living home.
Q: How do you pay for assisted living?
A: You may pay for services on an all-inclusive or a fee-for-service pricing model.
With the all-inclusive model, the individual will pay a flat rate that covers all room and board, as well as additional services offered by the assisted living home. If you choose a fee-for-service model, you’ll only pay for the services you use.
You can cover the cost of assisted living in a few ways:
- Private funds
- Funds from a life insurance settlement
- Taking out money from a reverse mortgage
- A bridge loan
Q: What’s covered in the cost of assisted living?
A: Base fees (monthly rent) will cover a range of expenses, such as meals, housing, and care.
Some of the other expenses include:
- Electric bills
- Events and programs
- Basic medical care
- Medication management
- ADL services
If you’d like additional care, you may need to pay extra fees. Additional services outside of your base payment might include:
- Specialized memory care
- Pet fees
- Transportation services
- Haircutting or barbershop services
- Special care for certain medical conditions
Living Accommodations in Assisted Living Homes
Your loved one may be able to choose from several living accommodations. Many homes offer:
- studio apartments, with an open-concept living space
- single-bedroom apartments
- two-bedroom apartments
The above options may be offered in a variety of sizes and floor plan options to ensure your loved one can choose a space that makes them comfortable. Some homes may also come fully or partially furnished to help ease the transition further. But your loved one may wish to bring their own furnishings to feel more at home.
You can expect to find:
- at least one bathroom
- a kitchen or kitchenette
- windows for natural lighting
- a living room area
Bathrooms are made accessible with:
- sufficient space
- grab bars
- walk-in showers and tubs with built-in seats
- non-slip floors or mats
- detachable shower heads
- raised or widened toilet seats
Assisted Living: Questions to Consider
As you tour an assisted living facility with or on behalf of your loved one, it’s important to consider several key factors. Here are a few questions to ask the facility when looking into an assisted living home.
- Is this facility licensed?
- Are pets allowed at this assisted living home?
- What is the visitation policy at this assisted living facility?
- Are residents social and active in this community?
- Does this facility have handrails, elevators, ramps, and other measures for accessibility?
- Do the room sizes and hallways accommodate walkers and wheelchairs?
- Are there any outdoor spaces for lounging or socializing?
- Is there a fitness room, pool, or gym?
- What measures are taken to keep this facility clean?
The Cost of Assisted Living
- What services and amenities are offered in the base fee?
- What services must be paid out-of-pocket?
- What fees can I expect when applying to live in this facility?
- How will services be charged?
- Does this facility provide financial assistance?
Medical Care and Concerns
- What level of medical care does the staff provide?
- How does this facility respond to medical emergencies?
- Can my loved one receive additional care for a chronic health condition?
- Does this assisted living home provide nursing services?
- What cautions are taken to keep residents healthy?
- How does the facility address illnesses or viruses that may spread to other residents?
- How many meals a day will be provided?
- Does this facility provide transportation services?
- What is provided in terms of socialization for the community?
- Can this facility help care for my loved one’s pet(s)?
- Can I customize my loved one’s care plan?
- Are there opportunities provided for exercise and mobility?
When It’s Time for Assisted Living
Many people do not see a need for assisted living because their loved ones are still active and mentally alert. However, assisted living is designed to help aging adults who could simply benefit from extra support with daily life.
It might be time for assisted living if:
- Your loved one is independent but could use help with daily tasks. This includes transportation, taking their medicine, and personal care. Assisted living communities provide a secure place for your loved one to live and receive 24-hour care.
- Family doesn’t live nearby. If there are no relatives or trusted friends close to your aging loved one, they might benefit from living in a space where they can get all of the care they need.
- You need peace of mind. If your loved one has a bad fall, experiences issues with memory, or has trouble maintaining their property or living space, the staff at a senior assisted living home will be available to care for all of their needs.
- Your loved one wants more socialization. Many seniors live alone and don’t often have the chance to see other people. These living communities encourage socialization by providing common areas for dining and socializing, social calendars with events and clubs for different interests, and other programs for connection.
An assisted living staff will help to anticipate your loved one’s needs and provide the best care possible. As your aging loved one becomes more familiar with their surroundings, community members, and staff, they’ll feel more connected as each day passes.
How Do You Prepare a Loved One for Assisted Living?
If this is the first time you’re bringing up the idea of moving your loved one into an assisted living home, it’s important to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding.
Especially if your loved one isn’t ready to move on, the conversation may cause some discomfort. However, with the right approach and open, honest communication, you and your loved one can come to a decision on next steps.
Here are a few ways to prepare your loved one for assisted living:
- Start talking. This is a conversation that should happen gradually over time. Give your loved one the space to ask questions, bring up concerns, and talk to you about their options for assisted living.
- Provide options: Your loved one should have a choice in the next phase of their life. Consider researching a few facilities with varying levels of care and present them to your loved one to get their opinions on them.
- Don’t rush it: The last thing you want is for your aging loved one to feel forced into a situation too quickly. Take your time finding homes and talking through options. This will allow your loved one enough time to comprehend the idea of moving into a new home.
- Ease the transition: Bring items from home, bring their pet, and decorate the space with cherished family photos and memorabilia so your loved one feels more at home and comfortable when moving into the new space.
- Bring them to tour the facility: It may be scary for your loved one to move into a home they’ve never seen before. Bring them to the facility to tour the entire property and apartments so they can mentally prepare themselves for the transition.
- Discuss the benefits: If your loved one is feeling hesitant to go to an assisted living facility, consider talking over a few of the ways they could benefit from the home. If they’ve been having a tough time dressing and preparing meals, discuss the services provided in those areas that can ease the burden of daily tasks.
- Choose your timing: Pick a time to discuss assisted living when your loved one is feeling open and ready for it. Try to avoid times when they are typically more tired or agitated, and make sure there will be enough time to discuss it thoroughly.
What Should I Bring to Assisted Living?
If your loved one is ready to choose an assisted living home, you’ll need to decide what goes and what may need to be donated, given to family members, or kept in storage. Typically, when a loved one is moving into an apartment at an assisted living home, they’ll be downsizing from their current place of residence.
In this case, take the proper time to go through each of their belongings and decide where they should go. Whenever possible, give your loved one the chance to decide what they’d like to keep and what they’d like to give away. However, you may need to make many of these decisions without them, or with the help of other family members or friends.
Here are a few items you may want to bring to assisted living:
- Keepsakes, such as letters
- Some furniture
- Some clothes
- Necessities such as toiletries
- Kitchenware, such as plates, glasses, and utensils
- Items for entertainment, such as books, puzzles, art supplies, movies, knitting materials, radios, record players, and DVD players
- Appliances if not provided, such as a toaster or coffee maker
Here are items you may want to consider leaving behind:
- Entertainment items not often used, such as old magazines
- Surplus clothes or shoes
- Extra sets of dishware, utensils, or other kitchenware that are not needed
- Some furniture items (if your loved one has several pieces of large furniture)
- Knick-knacks with no sentimental value
- Items in storage that are not used
- Throw rugs, as these can be tripping hazards for seniors
Find Senior Assisted Living Today
Beginning the process of finding an assisted living home for your loved one can be intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through it alone.
You can browse our comprehensive directory of assisted living facilities to find a home that’s best for your loved one. There are thousands of options for assisted living across the U.S., so you can find the right care for the senior in your life.
Written by Aging with Care
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