Definition: Defining the Meaning of Assisted Living
An assisted living residence or assisted living facility (ALF) is a housing facility for people with disabilities. These facilities provide supervision or assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs); coordination of services by outside health care providers; and monitoring of resident activities to help to ensure their health, safety, and well-being. Assistance may include the administration or supervision of medication, or personal care services provided by a trained staff person.
Independent Living: As seen by its advocates, is a philosophy, a way of looking at disability and society, and a worldwide movement of people with disabilities working for self-determination, self-respect and equal opportunities. In the context of eldercare, independent living is seen as a step in the continuum of care, with assisted living being the next step.
Independent Senior Living: also known as retirement communities, senior living communities or independent retirement communities, are housing designed for seniors 55 and older. Independent senior living communities commonly provide apartments but some also offer cottages, condominiums, and single-family homes. Residents are seniors who do not require assistance with daily activities or 24/7 skilled nursing but may benefit from convenient services, senior-friendly surroundings, and increased social opportunities that independent senior living communities offer.
Independent Living, as seen by its advocates, is a philosophy, a way of looking at disability and society, and a worldwide movement of people with disabilities who proclaim to work for self-determination, self-respect and equal opportunities.
In 1972, the first Center for Independent Living was founded by disability activists, led by Ed Roberts, in Berkeley, California. These Centers were created to offer peer support and role modeling, and are run and controlled by persons with disabilities.
According to the Independent Living approach, the example of a peer, somebody who has been in a similar situation, can be more powerful than a non-disabled professional's interventions in analyzing one's situation, in assuming responsibility for one's life and in developing coping strategies.
Solutions include information, advice, support and training about suitable assistive technology and equipment, funding options, assessment and referral pathways, linking to community services and respite options. Services are accessed by people with disability, older people, their carers, service providers, health professionals, educators and suppliers, and Home and Community Care services providers via Respite and Carelink Centers.
Independent Living means being in control of your own life, taking responsibility for your actions, taking risks, and either failing or succeeding on your own terms. It means participating in community life and pursuing activities based entirely upon self-determined interests and preferences. To support these goals, Independent Living Centers help individuals of all ages with all types of disability to obtain whatever services they need to preserve their right to choose and to fully and equally participate in society.
In the Independent Living philosophy, disabled people are primarily seen as citizens and only secondarily as consumers of healthcare, rehabilitation or social services. As citizens in democratic societies, the IL Movement claims, persons with disabilities have the same right to participation, to the same range of options, degree of freedom, control and self-determination in every day life and life projects that other citizens take for granted. Thus, Independent Living activists demand the removal of infrastructural, institutional and attitudinal barriers and the adoption of the Universal Design principle.
According to the Independent Living Movement, with peer support, everyone - including persons with extensive developmental disabilities - can learn to take more initiative and control over their lives. For example, peer support is used in Independent Living Skills classes where people living with their families or in institutions learn how to run their everyday lives in preparation for living by themselves.
Currently some two million Americans with disabilities are confined in nursing homes, care facilities, and other institutions not because that is what they want or need, but because that's what the government will pay for.
Types of Independent Senior Living
- Senior Apartments: Most common type of independent senior living. Services usually include recreational programs, transportation, and meals service.
- Subsidized Housing: The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) provides communities for low-income seniors. Subsidized communities usually adhere to strict criteria and may have lengthy waiting lists.
- Continuing Care: Communities that provide access to independent living communities as well as assisted living and skilled nursing. Residents can transfer among levels of care as needs change. Some CCRCs also provide memory care facilities.
- Housing Units: Senior communities that offer single-family homes, duplexes, mobile homes, townhouses, cottages, or condominiums. Some communities are tied to an adjoining, apartment-style independent senior living community. Residents may have the option to rent or buy.
- Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC): A community that has a large population of senior residents but was not originally designed for seniors. These evolve naturally as people age-in-place over time or migrate into the same area. They are not created to meet the needs of seniors.
Quick Facts: Independent Living
Other Names for Independent Living Include:
- Congregate care
- Retirement homes
- Retirement communities
- 55+ or 62+ communities
- Active adult communities
- Senior apartments or senior housing
- Continuing Care Retirement Community
Statistics: Centers for Independent Living (CILs)
In a study of 116 centers on independent living, findings showed that the centers receive 96 information and referral contacts each month. Of that total, the centers reported an average of nine complaints about health each month from consumers. As to the type of health complaint, the breakdown was: access (26.7%), cost (23.7%), quality of care (11%), and other (28.7%). What do the centers do about the complaints? Many (74%) intervene on behalf of the consumers. Batavia, A. (1999). The role of independent living centers in meeting the health care needs of people with disabilities. (Independent Living News 1(1), 1-8. See http://www.getriil.org/~getriil/cgi-bin/details.phpanum=702)