Assisted Living Alternatives: What Are The Best Options?

A older woman with glasses and grey hair is standing at the open door of a home and smiling at the camera.

Learn about the alternatives to assisted living, and find out which options may be a good fit for you or your loved ones.

Summary

  • Assisted living may not be the best option for all aging adults — especially those who need skilled nursing care.
  • Alternatives to assisted living include aging in place, adult daycare, cohousing, mother-in-law cottages, and nursing homes.
  • It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of assisted living before you decide whether it’s the best choice for you or your loved one.
  • LogicMark can make aging in place more possible with our variety of medical alert devices.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities are places where aging adults can stay if they need assistance with their personal, social, and/or medical needs. 

Adults who choose assisted living typically still enjoy a high degree of independence and social engagement. 

They are free to make their own decisions and go about their day-to-day activities while receiving help when they need it. 

Assisted living facilities focus on improving the quality of aging adults’ lives. Some of the things offered include:

  • Help with activities such as bathing, toileting, grooming, walking, and eating
  • Transportation and housekeeping services
  • Health and wellness services
  • Medical services
  • Programs that encourage social engagement or intellectual stimulation
  • The opportunity to be a part of a community where they feel valued
  • Access to 24/7 support and medical care, if required

Even adults who are able to care for themselves but simply desire more free time, can also join assisted living communities. 

What are the pros and cons of assisted living?

Before you start planning a visit to your local assisted living facility, it’s a good idea familiarize yourself with the pros and cons of these communities.

We’ve listed some of the main factors below:

Pros of Assisted Living CommunitiesCons of Assisted Living Communities
Aging adults can enjoy a great level of freedom in a safe and nurturing environment.Older folks who require extra help might be very reluctant to give up their homes and settle in an assisted living facility.
Adults can enjoy a variety of services, including cooking and cleaning.Assisted communities have rules and policies that aging adults may struggle to adjust to.
Various recreational and social activities are offered, so adults don’t feel bored or lonely.Aging adults who move out of their homes may have to say goodbye to friends and neighbors they’ve known for years.
Health and medical services are available at any time, granting aging people and their families peace of mind.Assisted living communities cater to general tastes — it might not feel like home to some people.
Because health is prioritized in so many different ways at assisted living facilities, moving to one may improve and extend the lives of the people who live there.The relatively high costs of assisted living may not make it a suitable option for many people.
Safety and security are prioritized at most assisted living care facilities, ensuring aging adults and their families can rest easy.Depending on the type of assisted living facility, aging adults may be required to share their room with another person.
Visits from family members are often more enjoyable because the facility helps fulfill all the other responsibilities, such as chores, grooming, etc.Visitation hours may be regulated by the assisted living facility, giving residents limited control over when they see their loved ones.
Assisted living communities cannot accommodate aging adults who rely entirely on people to help them or require constant medical care.

Who Should Not Consider Assisted Living?

For many aging adults, assisted living is a great choice. However, it might not be a feasible option for certain people.

Assisted living may be impractical for those who:

  • Have serious illnesses or conditions that require skilled nursing care
  • Have violent tendencies or are deemed a danger to themselves and/or others
  • Require total assistance — in other words, staff members will have to carry out most of the activities of daily living for the individual
  • Regularly require more than one staff member to help them
  • Are unable to move and need to rely on people to transfer them
  • Are terminally ill and require end-of-life care

If one or more of the above points apply to you or your loved one, assisted living may not be the most suitable housing option.

It’s always best to be honest with the assisted living facilities you’re considering. Disclose important information early on than risk being turned away and having to search for alternatives afterward.

People who move into assisted living communities and later require more care may have to be moved to other facilities.

If you’re unsure about whether or not assisted living is the best option for you or someone you love, get in touch with the facilities you’re considering and have them assess your situation. 

Some assisted living communities may be willing to accommodate aging adults with advanced needs under certain conditions. 

For example, if a home health aide lives with someone, they may allow the aging adult to stay at the facility.

What Are the Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)?
ADL is a term that refers to all the essential or routine tasks that healthy people can carry out on their own. As people start getting on in years, they may require increased help with the activities of daily living.
Some basic activities of daily living that aging adults frequently require help with include:
Taking a shower or bathMaintaining personal hygiene and a well-groomed appearanceGetting dressedWalking or transferring themselves from one place to anotherUsing the toilet and cleaning up afterwardFeeding themselves
When individuals cannot perform two or more of the above listed ADLs, they may not qualify for assisted living.

What Are the Best Assisted Living Alternatives?

If you’re still looking around for the best long-term care options for yourself or someone close to you, we’ve listed some alternatives below.

Certain home care options may be better suited to your requirements than others. 

If you’re searching for the perfect place for your mom or dad who’s growing older, try to take their preferences into account as well — though this may not always be practical.

Aging in Place or In-Home Care

The statistics are clear on this one — 77% of aging adults across the U.S. want to age in place. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines aging in place as “[t]he ability to live in one’s own home and community safely, independently, and comfortably, regardless of age, income, or ability level.” 

Some of the things to look forward to if you decide to age in place at home include:

  • Freedom and privacy: When someone lives in their own home, they have the freedom to come and go whenever they like and only allow people into their space when they choose to.
  • Familiarity and comfort: Few things are as comforting as a good night’s rest in your own bed — and this is one of the many pleasures older folks will enjoy if they age in place. Growing old in the home you’ve lived in most of your life is a privilege.
  • A good support system: Those who age in place often have the support of family members, friends, and the wider community.
  • Safety: Because they know the neighborhood and they’re familiar with the layout of the house, injuries are less likely to happen.
  • Improved quality of life: Living in a place you love can lead to increased peace and happiness.
An older man smiles as he holds a smiling toddler boy on his shoulders.

For adults who have the time and resources to prepare for aging in place, it’s still the best long-term care option. 

However, before you can age in place, you may have to make some changes around the house.

Home remodeling

This can be a lengthy process, so it’s best to start early. As soon as you or a loved one expresses interest in aging in place, you should start making changes to your home or living space.

These changes can be small at first — like decluttering or removing loose rugs.

Some other changes you may want to make to your home include:

  • Completing internal and external repairs
  • Ensuring there’s adequate indoor and outdoor lighting
  • Inspecting and replacing electrical wiring
  • Updating security systems
  • Installing grab bars and handrails around the house

Check out our aging in place article for a more comprehensive checklist of changes you can make to ensure a home is safe for aging adults.

Medical alert systems

Medical alert systems are safety devices that can be installed in homes or worn around the neck, waist, or wrist. 

They allow two-way communication between the person wearing it and emergency responders or primary caregivers, such as friends and family members.

Some medical alert systems also have additional features, like fall detection, heart rate monitoring, medication reminders, and GPS tracking. 

Medical alert devices can be used by any aging adult, and they’re excellent safety measures for those who have chosen to age in place.

If you want to learn more about medical alert systems and how they can help keep you and your family safe, visit Logicmark and view our range of stylish and discreet medical alert systems and accessories. 

Not sure which device you need? Our article on how to choose a medical alert system will guide you.

Home health aides (HHA)

Home health aides are professionals who assist anyone who requires help to live independently. They perform a variety of duties, including:

  • Personal care, such as bathing, dressing, toileting, and grooming
  • Buying groceries and running errands
  • Administering medications
  • Preparing and serving meals
  • Cleaning around the home
  • Keeping a close eye on the aging adult and noting any changes in their condition

Depending on a person’s needs, the home health aide may stop by for a certain number of hours each day, or for a few days a week.

Medicare PACE

Medicare’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) is a program offered by Medicare and Medicaid that provides care to people who are 55 and older. 

This program allows aging adults to receive the care they need at their homes instead of going to a nursing home or other care facility to receive help.

To learn more about PACE, visit Medicare.gov.

Medicaid HCBS

Much like Medicare PACE, Medicaid Home & Community-Based Services (HCBS) allows Medicaid beneficiaries to receive care in their homes and communities instead of care facilities.

HCBS provides health services that meet medical needs, such as skilled nursing care and physical therapy. 

They also provide human services that support daily living, such as personal care, adult daycare, and home modifications.

Depending on the state you’re in, there will be different HCBS Waivers that dictate the type of care you receive. You can learn about eligibility for Medicaid according to your state by visiting the CMS.gov website.

Mother-in-law cottages

Also called in-law suites or granny flats, mother-in-law cottages are living spaces within your house or somewhere on the property where your parent(s) can live.

These are great because they combine the best of both worlds by allowing aging parents to be close to their families, but still maintain their independence and privacy by keeping living areas separate.

Continuing care retirement communities (CCRC)

CCRCs are similar to assisted living communities, except that they offer various levels of medical care onsite.

People who move into assisted living communities need to be able to perform most of the activities of daily living, while CCRCs provide customized care based on individual needs.

Aging adults living in CCRCs progress through different levels of care without having to relocate, making it a better long-term choice.

Cohousing

In cohousing communities, there are many private homes on a single property, but people gather in shared spaces to attend social events, form clubs, and organize other activities, such as carpools.

These communities often have people of different generations living together — so they don’t exclusively accommodate aging adults like assisted living communities do.

Cohousing can be appealing to older folks as it gives them a chance to be around younger people. It allows aging adults to socialize but also enjoy true privacy if they desire it.

An older woman and younger woman are sitting together on a couch Their eyes are closed and they are laughing. They look happy and content.

Home-sharing 

This is when two unrelated people live together in the same house.

Older adults with a spare room can approach home-sharing associations to match them with suitable tenants. 

Prospective candidates are usually younger people, such as university students, or could be someone who is closer in age to the homeowner.

Home-sharing can help aging adults stay in their homes for longer. It also gives people looking for places to rent more affordable housing options in exchange for helping the older person with basic household tasks.

Home-sharing is a great way to combat loneliness and also earn some passive income.

Memory care

Memory care refers to dedicated care for aging people with cognitive conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

Older folks who have memory problems require specialized care and assisted living facilities or CCRCs might offer separate memory care units onsite.

While residents at assisted living facilities enjoy their freedom and independence, memory care staff members have a more hands-on approach. 

The staff will, for example, ensure that residents complete activities that keep them stimulated and that they stick to a routine.

Adult daycare

Also called adult day services, adult daycare centers are similar to traditional community centers for aging adults, but they provide specialized supervision for older people who have cognitive impairments, like dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Adult daycare can be a great option if an aging adult:

  • Does not have structure in their daily activities
  • Does not have peers they can interact with during the day
  • Struggles with anxiety or depression
  • Doesn’t feel safe being alone
  • Feels frustrated because they don’t have activities to keep them busy throughout the day

Nursing homes

People who don’t need to be hospitalized but cannot receive care at home or at another facility, can stay at nursing homes. Here, skilled nurses and nursing aides can care for them.

Aging adults who have complex health conditions are prime candidates for nursing homes. 

According to HealthinAging.org, nearly half of nursing home residents are over 85 years old and most of them need help with more than three activities of daily living.

Where Can I Learn More about Aging in Place and Medical Alert Systems?

Are you considering alternatives to assisted living? Maybe you’d like to try aging in place first. LogicMark can provide you with the tools to make aging in place as safe as possible. Our technology protects the people you love by giving them easy, direct access to emergency staff or caregivers. Explore the full line of products here.