What Is Assisted Living? Exploring the Value of Senior Care

America’s population of seniors is large and growing. According to the U.S. Census, there are 47 million seniors age 65 and older in the United States; the Population Reference Bureau expects this number to double to more than 100 million by 2060.

A female nurse assists an elderly male resident in an assisted living center

Given this significant population growth, there is a significant need for professionals in assisted living facilities and senior living management roles. Seeking employment in an assisted living environment is a strong choice for compassionate students with interests in a career providing care and support to society’s aging adults — and it all begins with studying senior living management or related healthcare fields.

What Assisted Living Means to Seniors

A broad continuum of care exists for seniors, from independent living to 24-hour care. Assisted living takes a hybrid approach to active seniors. It typically includes private housing within a facility, proximity and access to medical assistance, 24-hour supervision, nutritious meals, and activities with a community of peers.

The popularity of assisted living has increased due to its many benefits, including the goal of helping seniors maintain their ties to family and friends, remain active, and access care — as well as fostering their independence. Assisted living facilities are often affiliated with nursing homes or other full-time care facilities, providing continuity as a senior’s health needs change.

According to American Senior Communities, 1 million of America’s seniors currently live in assisted living facilities, and this number will double by 2030. To accommodate this expansion, a number of innovations are taking place in the industry. These include:

  • Technology. Advancements in self-driving vehicles allow seniors to have increased autonomy and mobility. Personal healthcare devices track health information, send medication alerts, and notify medical staff of a fall or other medical emergencies. Smart home devices help seniors make their homes more comfortable. These and other technologies are greatly improving the quality of life for seniors.
  • Emotional Support. To help maintain seniors’ emotional wellbeing, life coaches, therapists, and other support professionals are increasingly incorporated into assisted living environments.
  • Social Services. A significant number of seniors don’t have enough savings to finance a comfortable retirement, according to Bankrate. The Pew Research Center discovered in 2016 that nearly 20% of seniors still worked full-time. It is important that services for seniors take into account their financial needs by offering assistance such as affordable housing and food subsidies.
  • Mixed Generation Programs. Some facilities feature intergenerational programming or connect with schools, child care centers, and youth centers to foster relationships that increase residents’ well-being. Many young people enjoy hearing seniors’ stories, performing music for them, or playing games together — which enriches the lives of all participants.

Types of Assisted Living Settings and Services

What are assisted living settings where graduates of senior living management and other degrees may seek employment? They include:

  • In-Home Care. For seniors who are able to live in their own homes but require regular support, the in-home care option maximizes independence. Home care providers visit patients’ homes to administer physical therapy, medications, wellness screenings, and more. Additionally, some in-home aides offer mental health and counseling services, and others provide in-home companionship and assistance, including meal preparation, house cleaning, personal grooming, and transportation. Some in-home care providers specialize in supporting patients with dementia. These professionals include registered nurses, physical and occupational therapists, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, physicians, counselors, and non-medical paraprofessionals.
  • Independent Living. For seniors who don’t need the comprehensive care provided by assisted living facilities yet still want access to support services, independent living can be an excellent choice. Seniors in independent living environments have access to a facility’s dining, entertainment, and medical amenities, or they may continue to live independently. These types of organizations ease the transition into more robust care and foster community and support in seniors’ lives, while still maintaining their autonomy.
  • Adult Daycare. Many seniors with dementia or other medical concerns already have a dedicated caregiver, often a family member or loved one. Because caregiving can be demanding and time-consuming, adult daycares offer caregivers a multi-hour reprieve so they may go to their job, take care of personal tasks, or simply take a break. Adult daycare centers typically specialize in medical support, social interaction, or care for patients with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. These facilities offer meals, entertainment, fitness programs, counseling, and physical therapy.
  • Assisted Living Marketing and Sales. To help seniors and their families choose the right assisted living environment, marketing and sales professionals listen closely and communicate with empathy. This is an excellent job for someone interested in senior living management or who does not have a medical background.

Learn About Earning a Degree in Senior Living Management

What is assisted living able to offer to seniors? It contributes to their physical, emotional, and social well-being, and innovations in the field support comprehensive care for this vulnerable population. The demand for talented and compassionate professionals in this setting continues to rise.

When you enroll in Maryville University’s online degree program in senior living management, you can set out on the path toward a rewarding career in the field. Learn more about the program’s curriculum and the types of professional opportunities that may arise after graduation.

Sources:

American Senior Communities, “Assisted Living Statistics–A Deeper Dive into the Demographics”

Assisted Living Facilities, “Trends in the Industry: Evolving Trends in the Assisted Living Industry”

National Caregivers Library, What Is Adult Day Care?

National Center for Assisted Living, What Is Assisted Living?

SeniorLiving.org, Research and Statistics for Seniors

SeniorLiving.org, Senior Home Care Guide

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Home Health Aides and Personal Care Aides

United Methodist Homes, “The Difference between Assisted and Independent Living”