What is Assisted Living?

May 21, 2024

Assisted living is a senior living option that provides personalized care and support for older adults who need help with activities of daily living, often referred to as ADLs. ADLs include things such as bathing, dressing, medication management and meal preparation. Residents of assisted living communities receive help with these tasks while still maintaining a level of independence and autonomy.

How is Assisted Living Different from Other Senior Living Options?

Assisted living is simply a type of senior living that includes a specific level of care. It differs from other senior living options in that it includes additional support for residents. Table 1 below compares the services offered in various types of senior living communities:

Table 1: Comparison of Services Provided in Senior Living Communities
Senior Living Option Services Provided
Independent Living Maintenance-free living, social activities, services and amenities
Assisted Living Help with ADLs, medication management, healthcare
Rehabilitation Center Physical therapy, occupational therapy, medical care
Skilled Nursing 24/7 nursing care, medical supervision, assistance with ADLs (often referred to as a nursing home)
Memory Care Secure, specialized care for Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia

What Kind of Senior Living is Right for Me?

1.       Independent Living:

  • What is it?
    Independent living communities offer maintenance-free living in apartments or cottages with access to amenities and social activities.
  • Who’s it for?
    Seniors who are active, independent, and able to manage their daily activities while enjoying a social and supportive community.


2.     Assisted Living:

  • What is it?
    Assisted living communities help with ADLs and healthcare services in a residential setting.
  • Who’s it for?
    Seniors who need help with daily tasks but want to maintain their independence and privacy.


3.     Rehabilitation Center:

  • What is it?
    Rehabilitation centers offer short-term care for seniors recovering from surgery, illness, or injury, with specialized therapy services.
  • Who’s it for?
    Seniors who require intensive rehabilitation services following a hospital stay or medical procedure.


4.     Nursing Home:

  • What is it?
    Nursing homes provide 24/7 skilled nursing care and assistance with ADLs for seniors with complex medical needs or disabilities.
  • Who’s it for?
    Seniors with chronic health conditions or disabilities who require round-the-clock care and supervision.


5.     Memory Care:

  • What is it?
    Memory care communities offer specialized care and support for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.
  • Who’s it for?
    Seniors with cognitive impairment who require a secure environment and specialized memory care services.

What are the Pros and Cons of Assisted Living?

Assisted living offers several benefits, including personalized care, socialization opportunities, and a supportive environment. However, there are also drawbacks to standalone assisted living communities, such as the cost of care and limited medical services.

Benefits of Assisted Living:
  • Assistance with ADLs promotes independence.
  • Social activities and amenities enhance quality of life.
  • Personalized care plans meet individual needs.
  • On-site staff provide 24/7 supervision and support.
Drawbacks of Standalone Assisted Living:
  • The cost of care can be expensive.
  • Limited medical services compared to skilled nursing.
  • Relocation may be necessary if care needs increase significantly.
Who Lives in Assisted Living Facilities?

Assisted living residents are typically seniors who need help with ADLs or healthcare services but want to maintain their independence and privacy. They may have chronic health conditions, mobility issues, or cognitive impairment that requires assistance with daily tasks.

What are the Qualifications for Assisted Living?

To qualify for assisted living, seniors typically need to require help with ADLs such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and eating. They may also need help with medication management or healthcare services.

What are the Requirements for Moving into Assisted Living?

The requirements for moving into assisted living vary by community but often include a comprehensive assessment of the senior’s physical and cognitive health, as well as an evaluation of their care needs and preferences.

How Do I Know It’s Time for Assisted Living?

It may be time to consider assisted living when a senior requires help with ADLs, experiences frequent falls or accidents, has difficulty managing medications, or feels socially isolated.

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

The cost of assisted living varies depending on factors such as location, amenities, and level of care needed. Besides the monthly fee, there may be additional costs for services such as medication management, transportation, or personal care assistance.

Long-Term Care Insurance Providers

Long-term care insurance may help cover the cost of assisted living for eligible seniors. Policy coverage and benefits vary, so it’s essential to review the terms of the policy and consult with an insurance agent.

Does Medicare Pay for Assisted Living?

Medicare typically does not cover the cost of assisted living, as it is considered a non-medical service. However, Medicare may cover certain medical services provided by healthcare professionals within the community.

Does Medicaid Pay for Assisted Living?

Medicaid may cover the cost of assisted living for eligible seniors with limited income and assets. However, Medicaid eligibility requirements vary by state, and not all assisted living communities accept Medicaid.

How Can I Pay for Assisted Living?

Seniors can pay for assisted living using a combination of personal savings, retirement income, long-term care insurance, Veterans benefits, Medicaid, and other financial resources.

Table 2: How to Pay for Assisted Living

Payment Option


Personal Savings

Seniors can use personal savings, investments, or retirement accounts to cover assisted living costs.

Long-Term Care Insurance

Long-term care insurance policies may help cover the cost of assisted living for eligible policyholders.

Veterans Benefits

Veterans and their spouses may be eligible for benefits to help cover the cost of assisted living.


Medicaid may cover the cost of assisted living for eligible seniors with limited income and assets.

Reverse Mortgage

Seniors who own their home may consider a reverse mortgage to help cover the cost of assisted living.

Life Insurance

Seniors with a life insurance policy may be able to sell it for a lump sum payment to cover expenses.

How Do I Choose an Assisted Living Community?

Assisted living provides personalized care and support for seniors who need assistance with daily tasks while maintaining their independence and privacy. By understanding the qualifications, requirements, costs and payment options associated with assisted living, seniors and their families can make informed decisions about their long-term care needs.

When choosing an assisted living community, consider factors such as location, amenities, cost, level of care provided, staff qualifications, resident reviews and the overall atmosphere and environment of the community.

There Are No Strangers at The Variel.

This next-generation senior living community in Woodland Hills, California, is in the perfect location for seniors looking for the range of activities and amenities the Los Angeles area has to offer. It’s fresh. It’s inspiring. And it offers a vibrant, engaging assisted living atmosphere designed for the way you want to live.

To learn more, about assisted living at The Variel, contact us to arrange a one-on-one appointment.

Featured Image: Inside Creative House / Shutterstock