Senior Housing and Living Options in the United States

Last updated on: Saturday, 6 May 2023
  • What You'll Learn

According to the National Institute of Health, there are an estimated 39.5 million people over the age of 65 within the United States. Additionally, there are approximately 5.6 million people over the age of 85, and the projected growth rate of this demographic will dramatically increase and nearly double over the next 20 years. Many of the changes reflect the aging baby boomer generation making up more of the older population. It is estimated that by the year 2050, there will be approximately 19 million people in the United States aged 85 and older. With an aging population, many residents wish to downsize and move to manageable independent living communities. For example, senior apartments or residents, which include recreational programs, transportation and meals services. Other seniors choose assisted living or continuing care communities. These are options to live independently but have some support with the tasks of daily life.

Finding a reliable and appropriate Independent living or assisted living is a challenging task. Assisted living facilities are owned by for-profit companies, non-profit organizations, or governments. Independent living or senior living communities are the least expensive, and the monthly costs vary, depending on the type of community, size of apartment or location. The main concern any family has is there loved one is adequately taken care of and lives a healthy life. Families who have elderly requiring assisted living wish to locate the best possible options in their state. The factors that determine the type of assisted living facility include the length of stay, the level of care they need, the cost of services, and will insurance cover the cost etc.


Independent living is designed for seniors who are capable of living on their own in an apartment or even a house. However, they want the convenience of living within a community that provides various services and amenities. These services include housekeeping, social activities, dining, security, transportation, and recreational activities. These are also known as retirement communities, senior living communities, or independent retirement communities. Typically, this type of housing is designed for seniors who are 55 years old or older. Residents are seniors who do not require assistance with daily activities. Independent senior living communities are also popular among snowbird seniors, whom, when retire, downsize and travel freely.

Most independent living properties, however, do not provide health care or assistance with daily activities. For example, this would not include management of medication, bathing, eating, dressing, toileting and other support for seniors who are not able to manage tasks of daily living. Types of independent living include senior apartments, which is independent senior living. Apartments for seniors include recreational programs, transportation, and meal services. There are also housing units, which are communities offering single-family homes, duplexes, mobile homes, townhouses, cottages, or condominiums. Residents often have the option to rent or buy. Continuing care is also common that includes independent living, but may offer assisted living or skilled nursing. This type of independent living allows residents to transfer among levels of care as needs change.


Assisted living facilities are for adults who cannot choose to live independently. Assisted living is a common term used in the United States and does include retirement homes, but is not necessarily a nursing home. Typically, most assisted living communities provide group living environments for seniors. Assisted living in the United States provides different levels of care based on the changing needs of senior residents. However, what assisted living offers and how it is defined is unique to each state and assisted living provider, which can make the search challenging. For example, assisted living could be delivered within a stand-alone facility or is part of an independent senior living community.

Assisted living facilities are publicly traded companies, non-profit organizations, or are subsidized programs operated by the government. Primarily, most assisted living is defined as providing assistance with activities of daily life. Each assisted living facility is regulated and licensed at the state level, which could make it challenging when searching out of state and finding the best type of assisted living. Because the regulations and licensing are unique to each state some of the other standard terms to describe assisted living, include residential care homes, personal care homes, or assisted care living facilities. For example, there are continuing care retirement communities, which provide a variety of aging care needs, such as independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing, which is all provided within one community. However, assisted living residents require help with at least one of the activities of daily living.