Assisted living statistics

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nurse helping put sweater on elderly woman

Housing is provided by assisted living facilities to aging individuals with varying degrees of independence. Some residents can manage their own hygiene while nurses oversee their medications, while others require help with daily tasks and more extensive medical care. Common conditions among assisted living residents include high blood pressure, arthritis, and heart disease, in addition to Alzheimer's and dementia.

In the United States, there are approximately 30,000 assisted living facilities, each typically accommodating 27 to 33 residents on average. The assisted living industry is anticipated to serve an increasing number of residents in the next 10 to 20 years.

Key insights

More than 818,000 people reside in assisted living facilities.

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Assisted living costs a median of $5,030 per month.

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The population of adults ages 85 and over will double by 2036 and triple by 2049.

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7 out of 10 people require long-term assisted living care in their lifetime.

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The U.S. will need nearly 1 million new senior living units by 2040.

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National senior living statistics

About 1.4% of seniors in the U.S. live in assisted living facilities. The average cost of assisted living in the U.S. is $5,030 per month. For context, the estimated median monthly cost for a 44-hour-a-week home health aide is roughly $4,500.

An additional 4% of seniors live in nursing homes. The median cost of nursing homes nears $9,000 per month for a private room, making assisted living an affordable and popular choice for seniors who need more than just care during the day. As of 2020, California has approximately 1,230 nursing facilities, the most of any state in the country.

Assisted living is more affordable than other senior care options, but it’s still a major expense. However, not everyone appropriately budgets for elder care plans.

Common conditions of assisted living residents

  • High blood pressure
  • Arthritis
  • Diabetes
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Alzheimer’s or dementia

Features available across assisted living facilities

  • Pharmacy access
  • Nutritional guidance
  • Physical and occupational therapy
  • Nursing care
  • Hospice care

Assisted living demographics

Assisted living facilities provide housing to aging residents with varying levels of independence. For some, this can mean taking care of their own hygiene needs while nurses manage their medications. Other residents may need assistance with everyday tasks and more intensive medical treatment. In addition to Alzheimer’s and dementia, some of the most common conditions of assisted living residents are high blood pressure, arthritis and heart disease.

  • About 70% of residents have memory impairments. Estimates derived from national data indicate that 7 out of 10 residents have some form of cognitive impairment. About 42% of residents have moderate to severe memory loss, and an additional 29% of residents have mild impairments. Memory care is more expensive than traditional assisted living — usually 20% to 30% more than the average.
  • The average length of a stay in an assisted living facility is 22 months. Approximately 60% of residents will move out of assisted living to transition to nursing homes or other types of senior care.
  • The majority of residents are women. About 70% of assisted living residents are women. This discrepancy is because many women outlive their spouses, leaving them without in-home support and in greater need of the care assisted living facilities provide.
  • The majority of residents are in their 80s. Though most facilities allow patients as young as 65, 50% of residents are 85 and over, and 31% are between 75 and 84.

Assisted living facility costs will continue to increase

As the assisted living industry is expected to grow, so are its costs. In Genworth’s annual Cost of Care Survey, assisted living facility rates increased by 4.65% in 2021 to an annual national median cost of $54,000 per year. With rising inflation, the estimated median cost of assisted living is $60,361. Notably, in just over ten years, assisted living costs have risen by 52.5% from $39,600 to $60,400.

Research from the peer-reviewed journal HealthAffairs suggests that these rising costs paired with other generational factors could make assisted living care out of reach for a growing number of middle-income people.

“Future seniors have lower overall savings and are less likely to have pensions, as defined-contribution retirement plans have grown,” the study states. “This trend may increase pressure on the already decreasing number of familial caregivers per senior.”

Assisted living chains and franchises will increase

Fifty-six percent of assisted living facilities are chain-owned, including big companies like Welltower, Ventas and Brookdale Senior Living. These are often larger communities that serve more than 100 patients per location. There are also many local assisted living providers of varying sizes across the country.

Possible staffing shortages are ahead

The assisted living industry will likely face challenges in meeting the projected growth, specifically regarding staffing needs. This year, every U.S. state experienced a shortage of care workers, and 43 states had permanent closures of care facilities, such as group homes and assisted living facilities. Experts from the Senior Living Innovation Forum suggest that better pay, benefits and opportunities for advancement can improve employee retention to ensure there’s enough staff to meet the growing need for these facilities.

More specialized memory care options will be available

Facilities dedicated to memory services are becoming an increasing component of long-term care. Eighteen percent of communities have units, wings or entire floors dedicated to serving patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions. Eleven percent of residences exclusively serve these patients.

Memory care-specific communities are increasingly popular because their caregivers have been trained to care for patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive loss. Additionally, many facilities offer specialized care and activities for people with dementia to stimulate cognition.

According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the percentage of residents with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia was higher at smaller facilities: There were 51% of residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia in communities with 4 to 25 beds, 47% in communities with 26 to 50 beds and 39% in communities with more than 50 beds.

Assisted living facility statistics by state

The financial burden of assisted living varies by state. It ranges from a median monthly price of $3,300 in Missouri to $7,800 in Washington, D.C. Below, compare the total number of facilities and the average cost of assisted living by state.

Currently, Medicare covers up to 20 days of assisted living care6 Most state Medicaid programs cover some assisted living costs, but the amount and days covered vary by state. Most residents need other financing methods beyond just insurance.

Bottom line

As the senior population continues to grow, the need for more assisted living facilities is likely to increase drastically. Though assisted living is a more affordable alternative to nursing home care for many older adults, the cost of these facilities is also expected to rise as the industry expands.

No matter the size of the facility, you should always confirm the residence is licensed. The level of care needed is also an important factor in choosing a facility — smaller units may have relationships with doctors and local hospitals rather than on-call medical professionals.


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