Everyone has a very individual concept of "assistance," so it may not be a surprise that "Assisted Living" has no one, clear definition.
Generally speaking though, Assisted Living refers to a special combination of housing, personalized services, and health-related care designed to meet to the individual needs of older adults.
Assisted Living sits between Independent Living — where only housing and (frequently) meals are provided, and Skilled Nursing — where medical professionals provide medical care under Doctor's orders.
Assisted Living is regulated by all 50 states. In California, to qualify as an RCFE (Residential Care Facility for the Elderly), both the Administrator (person) and the Facility (business) are licensed.
Assisted Living communities can range from enormous campuses that combine Independent Living and Skilled Nursing facilities and require up-front membership fees, to small neighborhood Care Homes serving small numbers of Residents.
Some Assisted Living facilities are quite specialized. Cultural or religious preferences are popular. There are gender-specific communities as well, and more recently, Assisted Living communities offering LBGT lifestyle living have emerged.
Levels of care are the most frequent type of specialization, along with focuses on Memory Care and Hospice or Palliative Care.
A Looking for Care℠ Guide can help you determine which local resources and choices are available in your area.