Here's how to decide when it's time to move from independent living to assisted living

AGING IS MORE ART THAN science. Each person ages at a different rate and may face varying health challenges as the years march on. Because of this, navigating health care decisions later in life isn’t always a straightforward proposition. One of those decisions may be trying to decide when is the right time to move into an assisted living community, and when to begin making plans for such a transition.

What Is Assisted Living?

A 2019 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that in 2016, 28,900 assisted living and similar resident care communities were in operation in the United States. Assisted living facilities can take a range of forms and provide various kinds of services intended to support older adults who need a little assistance in completing the tasks of daily living.

By and large, assisted living communities are designed for older adults who aren’t sick enough for a nursing home or the hospital, but may have some chronic medical conditions that need monitoring. These residents also often need help with bathing, dressing, housekeeping, toileting and other so-called activities of daily living. Meals are typically prepared for residents and may be served in a communal dining room where residents can also socialize and interact. People in assisted living facilities may have a private apartment or a shared room. Available services and amenities vary greatly depending on the location of the facility and the type of resident it caters to.

Similarly, the price can vary widely, too. According to a 2018 survey by Genworth Financial, the median monthly cost for an assisted living community is $4,000 – totaling $48,000 annually. By comparison, long-term care by a home health aide tops $4,195 monthly or more than $50,300 annually. And skilled nursing in a private room will set you back an average of $8,365 per month, adding up to more than $100,000 per year. Some facilities charge a lump-sum rate to cover a set menu of services and amenities. Others use an à la carte pricing model where residents can pick and choose what services and amenities they want to use. There’s an awful lot to consider when attempting to select the right assisted living facility for yourself or a loved one.

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