What is Assisted Living?

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(In Colorado, assisted living facilities and personal care boarding homes are referred to as assisted living residences.)

What is Assisted Living?

The Colorado Assisted Living Association defines an Assisted Living residence as a special combination of housing, personalized supportive services and health care designed to respond to the individual needs of those who need help in activities of daily living, but do not need the skilled medical care provided in a nursing home. There are three types of assisted living residences in Colorado: private pay, alternative care facilities (assisted living residences that are Medicaid certified) and residential treatment facilities for persons with chronic mental illness. There are about 537 (11/02) assisted living residences in Colorado. Any assisted living residence with 3 or more beds must be licensed. Assisted living care promotes maximum independence and dignity for each resident and encourages the involvement of the resident's family, neighbors and friends.

Private pay assisted living residences are licensed. Alternative care facilities have Medicaid clients and are licensed and certified. Residential treatment facilities are mental health facilities and are licensed. They are operated by the local mental health center.

Assisted living residences range in size from 3 to over 200 beds. The most common reasons for admission to assisted living residences are medication management, bathing and dressing assistance, and the need for protective oversight and supervision.

Assisted living residences provide a range of services and include a physically safe and sanitary environment, room and board, personal services, protective oversight and social care.

Personal services include social supervision, transportation assistance, activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, eating, laundry, and recreational and leisure activities. Protective oversight includes monitoring activities and medications, and social care includes organizing, planning, coordinating and conducting activity programs.

The Health Facilities Division ensures that assisted living residences meet established standards for health and safety which include resident rights, protection from abuse, quality of residents' lives and quality of residents' care through unannounced annual and complaint surveys and inspections.

Who lives in Assisted Living Residences?

Currently, more than a million Americans live in an estimated 20,000 Assisted Living residences. These residents can be young or old, affluent or low income, frail or disabled. A typical resident is a woman in her eighties and is either widowed or single. Residents may suffer from Alzheimer's disease or other memory disorders. Residents may also need help with incontinence or mobility.

What does an Assisted Living residence look like?

Assisted Living residences can range from a high-rise apartment complex to a converted Victorian home to a renovated school. Residences may be free standing or housed with other residential options such as independent living or nursing care. They may be operated by non-profit or for-profit companies. Most facilities have between 4 and 120 units. There is no single blueprint because consumer's preferences and needs vary widely. Units may vary in size from one room to a full apartment.

How is Assisted Living regulated?

In Colorado, Assisted Living Residences are regulated by the Colorado Health Facilities Division.

Return to the Colorado Assisted Living Homes Home Page

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