Assisted living facilities give aging adults an opportunity to hold on to their independence as long as possible before they require more intensive, full-time care that nursing homes provide. The assisted living option is particularly appealing to older adults who need some help with day-to-day activities — considered activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing or preparing meals — but who don’t require 24-hour care.
On average, an adult in the United States who reaches age 65 can expect to live for more than 18 additional years, according to an August 2022 report from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The federal government estimates that 7 in 10 of those turning age 65 today will need some form of long-term care in their lifetime; 1 in 5 will need it for more than five years.
By design, assisted living facilities offer residents a single apartment or private room with transitional spaces, such as semiprivate rooms, available to meet residents’ needs as they age or their income changes. Most assisted living facilities offer a range of services:
- Exercise and wellness programs.
- Housekeeping and laundry.
- Occupational and physical therapy.
- Personal care and medication help.
You’ll find assisted living residents enjoying games and trivia activities, movie nights and shuttle services, as well as hair salons and stocked libraries.
As the focus on care for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia broadens, many assisted living facilities have programs or entire wings devoted to residents with memory loss. If an assisted living resident requires medical care or hospitalization, Medicare will cover health services performed in a doctor’s office or hospital, much like Medicare does for beneficiaries in any living situation.
How much does assisted living cost?
The median cost of an assisted living facility was $4,500 a month in 2021. That comes to $54,000 a year, compared with more than $9,000 a month or $108,000 a year for a private room in a nursing home. Long-term care costs vary significantly by age, location and type of care.
Though some families rely on their own money, such as accumulated personal savings, pension plans and retirement accounts, to help defray the cost of assisted living, long-term care insurance also can come into play here. You can compare costs among facilities and services with the AARP Long-Term Care Cost Calculator.