Assisted Living Defined

What is Assisted LivingAssisted Living Communities (ALF) provide a structured setting for people with a variety of care needs in an apartment type setting.  The needs of people who live in an Assisted Living Community range from independent to needing assistance with all Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s).  Assisted Living can vary widely by size, amenities, and price.  The cost of this level of care is also dependent on geographical location throughout the United States.

Most ALF Communities provide the following in a base rate:


  • Room and Board
  • Three meals and several snacks per day
  • Weekly Housekeeping
  • Weekly Linen Service
  • Utilities, except phone (sometimes cable)
  • Activities
  • Transportation to group events and outings

In addition to the base rate, care costs may be added based on specific needs:

  • Some calculate these costs based on a “points” system, others on a “levels” system. Each community’s pricing structure is unique, making it difficult to initially compare costs without an assessment by staff.
  • Medicare does not pay for ALF care because it is considered custodial and long term in nature.
  • Medicaid may pay for ALF’s, if the community carries a Medicaid contract.  This does not always guarantee that a Medicaid client will be accepted.  Many reserve their Medicaid spaces for current residents who have depleted or plan to spend down private funds.
  • Many Long Term Care Insurance policies will pay for ALF’s, as long as the policy- holder meets certain requirements for care.

A large number of Assisted Living Communities will raise their rates three to six percent each year.  Many families may find themselves caught by surprise when these rate increases occur.  Make sure to inquire about possible and historical rate increases when checking out Assisted Living Communities.

Most people expect that once they move into an Assisted Living or other Care Community, that they will not have to relocate again. Unfortunately, there are some situations in which an Assisted Living may ask a resident to move. When touring Assisted Living Communities, ask for an example in which a current resident would be asked to move to a higher level of care. A discharge notice should be given in writing and must meet criteria stated in the Administrative Rules of that state.

Key Benefits of Assisted Living:

  • Private Apartment Setting
  • Structured Activities and Outings
  • Daily Assistance with Activities of Daily Living Available if Needed

Not sure what to look for when searching for Assisted Living?  Check out our printable guide:  Assisted Living Checklist: What to look for in Assisted Living.

best of the senior list assisted living

To visit the “Best Of” in Assisted Living, choose your city below:

Best Assisted Living- Portland, Oregon

Best Assisted Living- New York, New York