The History of Assisted Living and How to Find the Right Community for You

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assisted living history

What we know today as “assisted living” came about over the course of numerous decades of study, advances in care, and developments within senior living facilities. In this post, we’ll chronicle the history of assisted living for seniors, what you should look for in assisted living resources, and more.

The Evolution of Assisted Living

Prior to the 1970s, seniors who needed services such as Alzheimer’s and dementia care, or simply assistance with daily tasks, had limited options. In-home care was available in some circumstances and nursing homes were an option, but care for the former was limited and care in the latter was often not up to the standards that one would want.

Looking at the options that were then available, Dr. Keren Brown Wilson believed more could be done to help seniors which led to the development of modern assisted living programs.

With many nursing homes pre-1970s having communal showers, common bathrooms, and rooms without locks, some of the possibilities for updating care were obvious to Dr. Brown Wilson. And additional research she conducted helped to lead to the first assisted living community in Portland, Oregon.

1960s to Mid-1980s

Some of the key developments in the early days of assisted senior living facilities include:

  • Nursing homes, often referred to as “homes for the aged,” predate the assisted living movement with many in operation up to 1965
  • In 1965, Medicare and Medicaid are enacted which leads to a restructuring of care for seniors with state and federal government funds being used to update facilities to be more akin to hospitals
  • In 1979, Dr. Wilson Brown begins her research and advocacy for enhanced care for seniors following her mother’s entrance into a nursing home
  • In the early 1980s, the first new assisted living facilities open in Oregon and Virginia, with the former’s creation in large part due to Dr. Brown Wilson’s work
  • By 1985 the standard structure of modern assisted living programs is in place with many facilities across the country and the world following the pioneering examples

Mid-1980s to Mid-1990s

As assisted living resources and facilities continued to develop, the following key events occurred:

  • In 1986, one of the first studies in the efficacy and methodologies of assisted living care is conducted by the state of Oregon
  • Following positive findings in the study, Oregon launches a statewide initiative to further support the continued growth of assisted living services within the state in 1988
  • In 1992, the AARP commissions a national study of assisted living and promotes firmer standards for expectations of care
  • During the 1990s, four main types of assisted living locations emerge, being hospitality models, housing models, health care models, and hybrid models

Mid-1990s to Present

As assisted living for seniors continued to expand and grow, and the industry made modifications to care, the following occurred:

  • In the mid-1990s a number of assisted living companies begin to go public with many of them utilizing the hybrid model of care as their basis
  • Also during this time many assisted living facilities emerge that are designed for seniors in upper middle and upper income brackets, whereas before many such facilities and nursing homes had been geared specifically to those with lesser means
  • By the close of the 20th Century, the term “assisted living” begins to be more refined, with “senior living” and “independent living” emerging as alternatives for senior residents who would be able function largely on their own with minimal assistance
  • The General Accounting Office (GAO) releases a report in 1999 that chronicles ways the assisted living industry could improve its services which draws the attention and support of advocacy groups, state licensing agencies, and the media
  • Modern assisted living facilities continue to expand and innovate, addressing both state and federal regulation requirements and incorporating new services and amenities to enhance resident care

What to Look for in an Assisted Living Facility

For those wanting to find assisted living facilities that adhere to their checklists for wants and needs there are a wide variety of options available.

The emergence of the Baby Boomer generation into the clientele for assisted living (and senior/independent living) has greatly altered the landscape for the types of senior housing facilities available. Previous generations, such as those who came of age during the Great Depression, were accustomed to “doing without” and living more frugally. These individuals often did not want a lot of supplementals when it came to facility amenities and services.

With the Baby Boomer generation growing up during a time of significant economic prosperity, their desires for independent and assisted living are understandably different, as they have grown accustomed to certain standards of living.

Among the aspects that many current seniors seek out in new assisted living facilities include:

  • Private apartment homes
  • Community activity centers on campus
  • Educational and entertainment programs
  • Computer access and services
  • Workout facilities and pools
  • High-quality dining options
  • Game rooms and auditoriums/theatres

Water’s Edge of Bradenton’s assisted living program offers all of these aspects and more. Our assisted living resources, services, and amenities include:

  • 24-hour security
  • Chef-prepared meals
  • Our deluxe Town Center
  • All utilities covered, including cable TV
  • Weekly housekeeping and linen changing
  • Early response systems
  • Concierge service
  • On-staff maintenance professionals
  • Community transportation
  • Life enrichment programs
  • Nursing stations throughout the facility
  • Modern appliances including washers and dryers
  • Coffee bar
  • Club and game room
  • Auditorium for visiting speakers
  • Discovery Corridor with computer labs
  • Library
  • State-of-the-art fitness center
  • Movie theatre
  • Outdoor heated swimming pool
  • Beauty salon, barber shop, and spa
  • Individually controlled heating and air conditioning units
  • Walk-in showers with grab bars
  • Sitting lounges, including one quiet lounge

As you can see, the kinds of assisted living resources you can expect from modern facilities is quite expansive. If you have any questions about all that Water’s Edge of Bradenton can offer you as part of our assisted living services, be sure to reach out to our team!

Interested in Learning More About Assisted Living?

Why not come by for a tour? Contact us today so we can schedule a convenient time for you to see our lovely campus!