America’s assisted living communities will participate in National Assisted Living Week® (NALW) September 11-17, 2022. The national observance begins each year on National Grandparents’ Day and honors the individuals who reside, work, and volunteer in assisted living (AL) and residential care communities. It was created by the National Center for Assisted Living in 1995 to recognize the role of AL in caring for America’s seniors and individuals with disabilities. The annual observance helps educate members of the public about this distinct aspect of long-term care.
“Assisted living is a vital long-term care option for older adults,” said Jalene Carpenter, president and CEO of the Nebraska Health Care Association. “They’re places where caregivers, residents, family members, and communities come together as an extended family to create memories. National Assisted Living Week offers an opportunity to shine a light on those who live and work in Nebraska’s assisted living communities. We encourage all Nebraskans to join us in celebrating.”
Director of Developmental Disabilities at DHHS Tony Green echoed these sentiments, stating that AL provides a much-needed and necessary level of care. Maintaining some level of independence for as long as possible is important to everyone as we age. As AL’s are celebrated this week, Director Green wants to personally say “Thank You” to the thousands of caregivers making a difference everyday.
The goal of AL is to provide comprehensive care to older adults while preserving their ability to be independent and have as many choices in their environment as is feasible. The Three Principles of Assisted Living often mentioned are:
Person-Centered Care. With this guiding principle in place, loved ones can always expect to get care that is centered on their individual needs.
Practice Ethics at All Times. Every assisted living community should operate on a foundation of trust.
A Mission Statement that focuses on the care of every resident and improving the environment, as well as ongoing staff training and a consistent drive to improve operations.
National Assisted Living Week offers an opportunity to explore AL communities, which can offer many benefits to residents. While many seniors lead active lives, others may find that parts of their life have become difficult. AL can eliminate the burden of home maintenance and increase social interaction. AL costs are usually lower than a nursing home or long-term community, and privacy is more easily maintained. Many AL residents require only custodial care, such as medication management, housekeeping, and having meals provided.
Roughly 800,000 to 900,000 people are in AL facilities nationwide. In Nebraska, there are 280 licensed AL communities with 13,786 licensed beds. The average annual cost for AL care is $48,915, which is lower than the national average annual cost of $54,000 (Genworth Cost of Care Survey, 2021). Almost 70% of Americans will need long-term care at some point in their life, with the average length of a stay in an AL facility of 22 months. The majority of residents are women (71%) as many women outlive their spouses, leaving them without in-home support and in greater need of the care AL facilities provide. The majority of residents are in their 80s, with an average age of 84. Most facilities allow patients as young as 65, but 52% of residents are over 85; 30% are between 75 and 84.
Nebraskans aged 85 and older are projected to increase 142% by 2050 (UNO, Center for Public Affairs Research). In 2019, the population of those aged 75+ in Nebraska surpassed the population of those under age five.