Skip to content

    50+: Live Better, Longer

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    Shopping for Assisted Living

    Assisted Living Primer

    WebMD Feature

    Mom is getting on in years, and she's not getting around as well as she used to. She dreads the thought of being stuck in a nursing home, and so do you; but where else can she go?

    What's called "assisted living" may be the best option for an older person who doesn't need round-the-clock nursing care, but who needs some help with daily activities and occasional medical attention.

    Recommended Related to Healthy Seniors

    Health Highlights: September, Healthy Aging Month

    Each issue, WebMD the Magazine's "Health Highlights" focuses on a national health theme for the month with expert tips, reader comments, and eye-catching factoids. September is Healthy Aging month – follow these tips to stay at your peak! 1. Get moving Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy body and brain. 2. Stay social Take a class, volunteer, play games, see old friends, and make new ones. 3. Bulk up Eat beans and other high-fiber foods for digestive and heart health...

    Read the Health Highlights: September, Healthy Aging Month article > >

    At the moment, however, the definition of assisted living is vague -- and in many people's minds, it's just a euphemism for a nursing home. There are some generally agreed-upon differences, but "there's no standard model" for assisted living, says Lauren Jones of AARP.

    That means shopping around for a place for your older loved one to live can be a confusing experience.

    "I think the biggest question right now is figuring out what assisted living is," says Bradley Schurman of the Assisted Living Work Group (ALW), a group of doctors, nurses, consumer advocates, and industry representatives appointed by the US Senate Special Committee on Aging to develop national standards for assisted living.

    An assisted living facility could be "a trailer in the back of somebody's yard," Schurman says, or "500 apartments in a gleaming tower in downtown New York." That's how widely definitions and regulations differ from state to state.

    What's more, "costs vary greatly," Jones says -- typically ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 a month.

    The ALW recommendations are due to be presented to the Senate in April 2003. Until national standards are put in place, shopping for an assisted living arrangement will be a headache, unless you know what you're doing.

    Assisted Living vs. Nursing

    Jones says the main difference between assisted living and a nursing home is "the level of care someone needs." She says a nursing home would be the right choice for someone who doesn't need to be in a hospital, but who needs fairly constant nursing care. An assisted living facility typically offers more independence and less intensive medical care.

    Paul Willging, the newly appointed president of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA), has another take on the difference between assisted living and nursing homes. He was, until taking his current job, the president of the American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes in the U.S.

    1 | 2 | 3

    Today on WebMD

    blueberries
    Eating for a longer, healthier life.
    woman biking
    How to stay vital in your 50s and beyond.
     
    womans finger tied with string
    Learn how we remember, and why we forget.
    smiling after car mishap
    9 things no one tells you about getting older.
     
    fast healthy snack ideas
    Article
    how healthy is your mouth
    Tool
     
    dog on couch
    Tool
    doctor holding syringe
    Slideshow
     
    champagne toast
    Slideshow
    Two women wearing white leotards back to back
    Quiz
     
    Man feeding woman
    Slideshow
    two senior women laughing
    Article