The History of Assisted Living Facilities


Among the long-term care options available in the United States, assisted living is one the fastest growing and the most favored. According to the study by the National Survey of Residential Care Facilities, there are over 31,000 assisted living communities nationwide. The concept of assisted living was created from the unpopular opinion of skilled nurses over 25 years ago.

In addition to that, assisted living is one of the fastest-growing housing for elderly Americans. One of the aims of assisted living is to care for all residents with dignity. Additionally, it also encourages independence and privacy. Also, most family members see assisted living as a great option for their ageing relatives who could no longer live at home by themselves.

History of Assisted Living

During the 1970s, there was a need for a change in the way people approached senior care. Before assisted living was developed, seniors had just two options then: hire a medical professional, or rely on the family caregiver. However, no seniors were looking forward to being admitted to a nursing home, given that the facilities were not up to the mark back then. Even today, assisted living facilities offer a better option than nursing homes in more ways than one.

In the mid-1970s, Dr Keren Brown Wilson was requested by her mother to make provisions for the seniors as they were ageing. According to history, she was the first of the founders of today’s concept of assisted living facilities. Additionally, if you have ageing relatives that needed maximum care, you can consider

The Growth of Assisted Living

Doctor Wilson Brown recognized the problem and preferred to have a solution to it. In past reviews, it was obvious that assisted living should be an option accessible to seniors, but it became a case after someone made the first move. After the first assisted living facility was established, the idea expanded. The 1990s saw assisted living spread throughout the U.S.

  • In the 1990s, the estimated assisted facilities available was around 40,000.
  • In 1996, assisted living facilities made up almost half of the senior living construction.

Assisted Care for Seniors Today

The benefits of assisted living facilities, when compared to nursing homes, is significant. First, assisted living offers more privacy than a nursing home. Dr Brown Wilson made sure to include locks on doors, which is a feature that was not common in most nursing homes back then, and it still is not common in nursing homes even today. The rooms may have locks, but the elderly are mostly not given permission to have access to those locks in nursing homes. Additionally, seniors can live an independent life while enjoying adequate care from a competent nurse at an assisted living facility.

  • Additionally, after a long and productive life, seniors are entitled to live their lifestyle that is fulfilling and satisfying. Assisted living facilities took care of this problem.
  • These facilities proposed a solution which helped the elderly maintain their dignity and privacy, while getting the care they needed to live a comfortable life

Types of Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted living is a kind of housing option that is intended for seniors or ageing people who need different levels of personal and medical attention. In assisted living facilities, you will find shared quarters, individual rooms, and apartments. Additionally, assisted living comes in different types. One of them is assisted living facilities for people who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, and thus require special medical and personal attention and care that others do not.

Types of Assisted Living Facilities – Additional Information

Another type of assisted living facility is the Continuing Care Retirement Communities., and it consists of different levels of assistance, including assisted living, nursing home and independent living. The last type of assisted living facilities is Independent living, which is designed for seniors who need little or no assistance with their daily activities.

Such seniors are usually a bit younger than seniors who require assistance, or in rare cases, surprisingly fit individuals who are exceptions to the norm. Generally, though, every elderly citizen eventually will need assistance in order to leave a good life, if they live past a certain age. Independent living is a good option, but as people get even older, they should begin to consider assisted living facilities with more seriousness than before.

The Modern Definition of Assisted Living Facilities: Requirements

While the initial facilities were better options than nursing homes even back then, they were still not up to the mark always. That fact was addressed by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, by forming the Assisted Living Workgroup of 2003. In order to get a better understanding of everything that the modern assisted living facility must provide to its residents, we will take a brief look through the main criteria that the committee had put forward as mandatory:

  • Availability of 24/7, urgent and emergency staff to help every senior resident in the facility that needs assistance
  • Providing general and specific assisted living services and support to each member of the facility, depending on their individual physical/mental requirements
  • Availability of health services outside of emergencies, at all times of day and night
  • Presence of age-adequate, varied sets of recreational activities
  • Plan to actively include every resident into social activities, so that no one feels lonely or left out
  • Presence of workers who can take care of everything from meal planning, serving and even feeding, to basic housekeeping and laundry duties
  • An assisted living facility should have adequate transportation facilities to meet the needs of its members
  • Special attention must be paid towards preserving every resident’s autonomy, freedom of choice and dignity

Levels of Care in Assisted Living Used by States

Each state in the United States licensed and registered assisted living by type of care. In a single-level system, a state will only issue out licenses for a single assisted living facility. In this system, any assisted living facility will accept a resident as long as they don’t have a disqualifying medical issue. In a multi-level system, it encompasses three levels – low, moderate and high.


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