The Evolution of Assisted Living

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While assisted living is currently a popular option for seniors who want to retain their independence while living in a safe community with constant access to care, that wasn’t always the case. In fact, when it comes to living options for seniors, assisted living is a relatively young concept that has only been around in its current form for a short time. Today’s assisted living facilities on Long Island are quite different from their predecessors, as the assisted living concept has evolved greatly over the last several decades.

Before the concept of assisted living rose to prominence, there were few options for seniors who wanted the safety and security of communal living blended with continued independence. Seniors could live alone and risk a fall or other medical emergency that could put them in a precarious position. Or, they could move in with family members, though many families didn’t have the resources to facilitate that level of care. Another option was to move into a nursing home, which was unpalatable to many and often met with resistance on the part of the senior resident. Some opted for live-in assistants or regular daily visits from medical caretakers. Assisted living facilities bridged the gap, as they allowed for seniors to have their own space and lifestyle of freedom while benefitting from life around others under the watchful eye of caretakers. Read on to learn more about the evolution of the assisted living concept.

The Early Days

Back in the 1960s, seniors had a few options when it came to living arrangements after attaining advanced age. There were healthcare-based settings such as nursing homes, senior only communities, senior hospitality living which had a resort-like atmosphere, and hybrid approaches that combined elements of the other three types. These types of accommodations each focused on specific part of the senior experience, and none were well-suited to offer a holistic approach that dealt with the complexity of living needs for senior citizens.

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Assisted Living Concept

In the mid-1970s, the concept of senior living was born out of a desire to provide seniors with a new template for independent life at an advanced age within a safe environment that supported their specific needs. The idea of assisted living was intended to confront many of the problems with the previous living formats. Unlike senior-only communities that provided little to no healthcare oversight or assistance, early assisted living incorporated around-the-clock care for those who needed it, with instant accessibility to medical staff in the event of an emergency. However, the accommodations were more private, unlike the communal facilities and shared rooms common in nursing homes of the era. It did away with the expense-inducing amenities of many senior resort communities, creating a cost-effective option for many seniors who lived on a controlled budget. The first true assisted living facility opened in 1981 and offered private rooms, full-time medical care, and community areas that allowed for social engagement.

Development of the Concept

In the last three decades, assisted living has morphed greatly from its original form. The original housing was far more austere than the typical current assisted living accommodations, as they were nothing like the cozy quarters enjoyed by many residents of assisted living communities today. Modern assisted living communities provide a full range of services that can help enhance the independence of seniors and meet them at their level of need. For example, modern facilities include amenities such as housekeeping, food service, transportation, entertainment options, salon and barber services, pharmacies, wellness centers, and leisure activities.

Assisted living accommodations have developed much since their inception in the early 1980s, and today’s seniors have more options than ever when it comes to selecting safe, independent living arrangements. To learn more about the evolution of assisted living from its inception through the present day, contact Oyster Bay Senior Campus at (516) 460-9722.

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