Handbook for Mortals : A guide to settings and services : Assisted living

Based on a Scandinavian and Dutch model for senior living, assisted living first emerged in America during the mid-1980s. Assisted living combines housing, personal services, and light medical or nursing care in an environment that promotes maximum individual independence, privacy, and choice. Clients can receive help with personal activities, including eating, dressing, and bathing, as well as meal preparation, laundry, housekeeping, recreation, and transportation. While assisted living customers may be too frail to live alone, they are too healthy to need most of the nursing services provided in a nursing facility. Assisted living residences typically do not provide 24-hour skilled nursing care, but can help with daily tasks including the supervision of medication by a qualified staff person. The "typical" assisted living customer is an 86-year-old woman who is mobile, but needs assistance with some personal activities. Whether proprietary or non-profit, assisted living residences serve mostly a private-pay clientele.

Today, there are between 40,000 and 65,000 residences, housing up to one million people. Customers stay in assisted living residences an average of 34 months. As needs change, elderly people leave assisted living residences, mostly because they need more intensive care.

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Handbook for Mortals book cover Copyright © 1999, 2006 by Joanne Lynn. This extract from the Handbook for Mortals by Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D. is used with permission. To learn more about improving care at the end of life visit the main web site for Americans for Better Care of the Dying.
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