Assisted Living More Accessible to Well-Off

A new study published in the Journal Health Affairs reveals that assisted living communities tend to be located in higher socioeconomic areas — areas with more income, more education and fewer minorities. 

There are some 12,000 assisted living communities with a total of 850,000 residential units in the United States according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.  About 28 percent of benefits paid to individuals is allocated to assisted living care the organization notes.

Experts say the findings aren’t surprising because private dollars have fueled the growth of assisted living facilities.  However, the findings do mean that people with lower incomes, those without insurance protection to provide benefits, minorities and those living in rural areas have fewer living options as they age.

Assisted living is generally for people who don’t yet need the full-time care provided by a nursing home, but may need help with daily living. How this assistance is provided differs greatly from facility to facility.   “Assisted living costs range from as little as $1,900 a month to as much as $5,000 monthly,” explains Jesse Slome, executive director of the long term care insurance industry’s organization.  “If you have not planned for the inevitable need for care that results from living a long life, this will not be an option.”

As the baby boomer generation continues to age, demographic experts expect that assisted living facilities will continue evolving and more creative options will likely emerge. 

According to the study, Connecticut, Hawaii and West Virginia had fewer than 10 assisted living facilities per 1,000 elderly residents, while Minnesota, Oregon and Virginia had more than 40 facilities per 1,000 older Americans.

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