According to census figures, about 6.5 million older people need assistance with activities of daily living. As the number of older Americans continues to increase, that number is expected to double by 2020.
Currently, more than one million Americans live in an estimated 30,000 assisted living facilities. As an integral part of the continuum of care, assisted living residences provide relatively independent seniors with a combination of supportive services, personalized assistance and healthcare designed to respond to the individual needs of residents in a community or home-like atmosphere. Generally speaking, assisted living is appropriate for someone who is too frail to live at home but does not need around the clock skilled nursing care.
The "typical" assisted living resident is an 83-year old female who is mobile but needs assistance with one or two personal activities such as bathing, dressing, eating transferring or toiletting. A 1998 survey found that approximately two-thirds of all residents needed some help taking care of their own personal activities. Residents stay in an assisted living facility an average of 2.5 years and often leave when a higher level of medical care is needed.
Who Pays for Assisted Living Care?
About 90 percent of residents or their families pay for the cost of care with private funds. Costs of assisted living may also be covered by an individual's health insurance program or long tem care insurance policy. Government payment for assisted living has been limited.
The Older Americans Act, and Social Services Block Grant programs pay for some assisted living services, while about 37 states utilize a waiver system which allows them to petition the federal government to utilize Medicaid to pay for some services. Many states are seeking waivers in an effort to control the costs of long term care and also because many patients would rather receive care in this type of environment. The basic daily fees are generally less than the cost of home health services or nursing home care in a corresponding area. The cost of services in an assisted living facility will vary depending on the services and amenities that are offered.