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ALFs Strong in Recession, But More Seniors Opting for Home

Your loved one also could consider a little extra help to enable her to remain at home when weighing her options for senior care.

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Assisting Living Facilities are one popular living option for older adults. They come with many advantages. But surveys typically reveal that seniors prefer to age in the comfort of their own homes. Sometimes all they need is a little extra help.

Q: My 82-year-old mother is trying to decide between staying at home and going to an Assisted Living Facility. Do you know how ALFs are doing in this economy and who goes there?

According to a recent industry report, Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) are holding their own. The 2009 Overview of Assisted Living, a comprehensive measure of the state of the industry conducted by the leading senior living associations, shows occupancy rates in 2009 were nearly 95 percent, only a slight decrease from the 2006 survey when the economy was stronger.

Communities which provide specialized care for those suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia report even higher occupancy rates.

The 2009 Overview shows that nearly all assisted living communities provide a wide array of services and safety measures which include wellness, social and recreational activities. But most also adhere to high standards and practices and conduct formal assessments of each resident prior to move in, draft written care plans for each resident, install smoke detectors and sprinklers in residents’ rooms and common areas, and conduct criminal background checks on every employee before hiring.

The survey also showed that the average age of residents continues to rise. Female residents outnumber male by a three-to-one margin. The median age is now 86.9 years and median income is $18,972, a slight increase from the 2006 survey. More than one-third of all assisted living residents suffer from Alzheimer's disease or some other form of dementia.

For many others, though, there’s no place like home itself. Past surveys conducted for the Home Instead® network have placed at about 90 percent those who say they would be “somewhat” or “very” likely to remain in their homes as compared with moving to a care facility.  In contrast, while the majority of people who need long-term care still live in nursing homes, the proportion of nursing home beds declined from 66.7 to 61.4 per 10,000 people, according to the study.

Your loved one also could consider a little extra help to enable her to remain at home when weighing her options for senior care.

The good news: there are more options than ever to help seniors stay in their homes. Community-based programs have continued to grow throughout the country. For more information on what’s available in your area, contact your local Area Agency on Aging.

CAREGiversSM from the local Home Instead could assist your senior with a variety of tasks such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping. CAREGivers also are available to help in care communities such as ALFs and are hired regularly by seniors or their family members in these communities throughout the country.

To read more about this study, visit

Last revised: August 9, 2011

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