Individuals who need help with one or a few of the activities of daily living (such as meal preparation, dressing, bathing, and the like) can often continue to reside in the most independent setting possible if this help is provided. This is described as assisted living.
Assisted living can be provided in the home or in specially designed housing. Services typically provided in assisted living facilities include three meals per day (usually served in a restaurant-style common dining room), help with taking medications on schedule, transportation to local stores or medical appointments, housekeeping and laundry service, and social activities. Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and walking is usually restricted to minimal assistance with dressing and grooming, or supervision transferring into and out of the tub for safety. In general, residents of assisted living facilities must be able to feed and toilet themselves.
Most facilities have staff available 24 hours per day to monitor, remind, or supervise. However, the staff members are there to assist only and are not medical professionals. If a resident requires close supervision, assistance with several of the activities of daily living, or 24-hour availability of a licensed nurse, then transfer to a nursing home is usually recommended.
Increasingly, individuals and their caregivers prefer to not have to move when their needs change. Because of consumer demand, some assisted living providers have responded with increased staffing levels of licensed nurses to help with medication administration, continuous oxygen treatment, and even hospice care. Assisted living apartments sometimes exist as part of a larger facility that includes a nursing home and perhaps transitional housing for those residents who need help with multiple activities of daily living but do not yet qualify for the nursing home. This arrangement is called a continuing care retirement community. These communities allow residents to maintain continuity with familiar staff members and a familiar environment, and allow spouses to remain close even when one enters the nursing home while the other remains in assisted living.