Sing for a chance to win $5,000! Enter AARP’s Superstar 2015 Contest! See official rules

Introducing RealPad

The tablet with free 24/7 customer support. Learn More

Celebrate Black Life, History, and Culture!



Bob Dylan Talks!



Rewards for Good Sweepstakes



Life at 50+ - Discover. Engage. Enjoy.





Life at 50+ - Register for the Digital Experience



Happy African American couple







AARP Auto Buying Program



AARP Staying Sharp: Keep Your Brain Healthy






Military and Veterans Discount




New Book

Dating After 50: How to get back in the game

Dating After 50 For Dummies

Contests and

$10,000 Life Reimagined Sweepstakes

Enter for a chance to win up to $10,000 to help make your dreams a reality. See rules


Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.


Home & Community Webinars

Family & Caregiving Webinars

Popular Articles



AARP Games - Play Now!

Poll: Are You a Real Techie?

Too Sick for Assisted Living? Medical Care Can Be Uneven

“It really isn’t always clear from the start how much care people in these homes will receive, and there was a big difference in the first residence and the second one we had my mother in,” Conger says. “The second one had nurses on staff, it monitored medications and had all kinds of services we didn’t get in the first.”

In his editorial, Levenson strikes a related theme. “As with nursing homes, many assisted living facilities perform admirably,” he writes. “However, overall performance across the country is uneven and often problematic.”

The industry itself is cognizant of this growing discrepancy between what assisted living facilities offer and what more and more residents actually need.

“People want to age in place—they don’t want to go to nursing homes. And that desire to stay where they are is contributing to this discrepancy,” says Steve Maag, director of assisted living and continuing care at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging in Washington, an industry group of nonprofit care facilities. “This trend has been common knowledge for years,” he says.

As for the variability in medical services—from real continuing care to very limited health care—Maag says assisted living facilities are regulated on a state-by-state basis; while some states have strong oversight rules on medical care, others do not.

But, he stressed, the industry is trying to address the issue by adding more trained staff and adapting its services. “And we want to give consumers more information about what is actually offered at each residence,” Maag says.

“The industry now is working with state agencies and consumer groups to develop a uniform disclosure statement for consumers,” he says. The University of North Carolina, with money from a federal grant, is creating a disclosure form, which Maag says will allow consumers to compare the types of services and levels of medical care each assisted living facility offers. He says the disclosure document could be in use as early as the end of 2009.

“The key message is to do your research when you are looking at assisted living options. Don’t just take the most attractive home,” says McNabney. “Ask how the facility manages complex medical needs and how will they handle these needs as the resident grows frailer and sicker. The capabilities of the facility need to be out there on the table to help consumers make the right decision.”

Barbara Basler is a senior editor at AARP Bulletin Today.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.


Members can download and print coupons for cereals from Kellogg's®.

grocery coupon center member benefit aarp

Members can print savings coupons at the Grocery Coupon Center powered by


Members can save 25% to 45% on their Angie's List membership.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points