What is an Assisted Living?

An assisted living is a different senior living option many people are unaware of. They offer a unique setting for people and seniors that need assistance with some or all activities of daily living (ADLs) . Assisted livings are great alternatives to nursing homes. They focus on providing more individualized health and personal care by generally offering higher staff to patient ratios.

There are a variety of different types of assisted livings. These types range from large communities, offering fine dining experiences, and attractive amenities, to smaller settings in a residential home in a homey, cozier and more intimate atmosphere. What’s best for your loved one often depends on the care they need.

TYPE A or TYPE B Assisted Living

Assisted living Facilities that have four beds or more are required to be licensed by the state in Texas. Here is a brief summary of the different types of facilities you may find:

  • Type A: In a Type A assisted living, residents are able to follow directions in the event of an emergency. Type A residents do not require routine assistance at night.
  • Type B: In a Type B assisted living, residents require assistance to evacuate and are not able to follow directions in the event of an emergency. Type B residents may require routine assistance at night.
  • Small: Small assisted living facilities are 4 to 16 beds.
  • Large: Large assisted living facilities are 17 beds or more.

When deciding which type of assisted living is best for your loved one, it is important to consider the differences on how the facility is licensed. If your loved one’s level of care changes or increases in a Type A facility, they may not be able to remain there. Type B facilities offers the option to stay in one place all the way to end of life. A Serene Setting is a Small Type B Assisted Living and provides services for different levels of care to end of life.


Senior home care agencies: This option is ideal for seniors who desire to stay at home, but may need some assistance. These companies are contracted by the senior or family to come to the senior’s residence. They can provide a variety of services including: home care services, companionship care, personal care, respite care, and transportation services all in the convenience of the senior’s home. Each company provides most of these services or more. This option is usually preferred by the senior, but can end up being quite costly if your loved one’s needs are more than daily. Senior care agencies typically charge by the hour with a minimum of 4 hours. The average cost of senior care agencies can start around $24 per hour. Some may offer lower rates if longer hours are contracted.

Independent living (IL): Independent livings are a great retirement option for a senior that can live independently. When mom and dad do not require personal care, but are tired of cooking meals, doing their laundry and cleaning their home, living in an independent living is ideal. This senior living choice offers seniors a large, attractive community with amenities, fine dining, concierge services, housekeeping, laundry services and more. Seniors rent their own apartment within the community. The cost of independent living ranges drastically and varies depending on location.

Personal care homes (PCH): Personal care homes are residential homes that offer personal care services in the home. In the state of Texas, they consist of 3 beds and are not required to be licensed by the state. Small Assisted livings are often referred to as personal care homes, but the difference is that small assisted livings are state licensed. The cost of personal care homes are usually the same as small assisted livings.

Assisted living facilities (AL): Assisted living facilities are licensed facilities which provide health and personal care to seniors in residence or large community. See what is an assisted living?. There are also assisted living facilities that are licensed to offer specialty services like memory care with their building designed specifically for memory care patients. These specialized facilities may require the resident to have a dementia diagnosis, and the cost of this type of facility tends to be higher due to the specialty. If your loved one has a particular illness, most assisted livings may still be able to provide care for them. It is not always necessary to go to a specialized facility.

Nursing homes (SNF): When mom or dad need more care, the most common idea is that they need to go to a nursing home. Nursing homes, also known as Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF), offer a broad range of health care and personal care services. They focus on medical care more than most assisted livings are capable of, due to their licensing standards. In additional to what assisted living facilities offer, nursing homes provide nursing care. They also provide rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

This senior living option sometimes is the only long-term care option for a senior if they meet the medical and financial requirements in order for Medicaid to pay. For others, they may utilize this option strictly as a rehab, where the cost is covered by insurance or Medicare. In this case, the senior’s time there is short-term, and will then be required to go elsewhere. If they do not qualify for Medicaid, the senior may be required to pay privately for a long-term stay. This ends up being costly given the skilled nursing services they provide. If the senior can no longer stay at a nursing facility and home is no longer a safe and ideal option because they cannot care for themselves independently, one of the senior options listed above may be a more appropriate place for the senior to live.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC): Continuing Care Retirement Communities are often referred to as, “Life Care Communities.” They are typically large establishments that have designated areas for different senior living options within their community. They offer a continuum of care starting from an independent living, to an assisted living, and then to a skilled nursing facility. The cost of this option will depend on which option you choose within their community. The independent living option is usually more affordable, but when your loved one needs to transition to their assisted living, the costs can jump drastically, depending on your loved one’s level of care at the time. Exploring other assisted livings would be advisable if the costs in the CCRC are no longer are within your senior’s budget.



On the gamut of senior living options, assisted livings seems to fall between independent living communities and nursing homes. Assisted living facilities accept a wide range of residents from independent seniors, to seniors that require more personal care with one or more activities of daily living (ADLs), to even residents on hospice. When living at home alone is no longer a safe and realistic option, assisted living facilities can be a great alternative for seniors.

Having your parent leave their home where they have lived in for many years is never easy, and can be quite challenging. The idea of moving from the comfort of their own home and transitioning to a large community, can be terrifying for the senior. Smaller assisted livings particularly ones that operate in a residential home, can provide a smoother transition from one home to another in some cases. Larger assisted livings are ideal for seniors that enjoy living in a large community filled with many other residents and lots of socialization. The decision between a small or large assisted living is a personal choice, many times determined by budget, and the goals of the senior and family. It is important to take into consideration the wants, willingness, and health and personal care needs of the senior to decide what would be the best environment for them to live in.