Assisted Living in American Society

Updated on: March 1, 2023

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Assisted living is a vital part of American society that provides a unique service for older people and their families. Facilities that provide this service regularly put their efforts into making the lives of their residents less burdensome by having assistants that are available at any time and facilitate convenient access to healthcare (Wilson, 2007). However, there are differences in the types of such residences, which can be derived from the history of assisted living. This paper will summarize the article “Historical evolution of assisted living in the United States, 1979 to the present” by Keren B. Wilson.

History and Components of Assisted Living

It is essential to begin the analysis of the topic from its roots to comprehend its current state in full. The first period from years 1979 to 1985 is defined by a separation of homes for the aged into nursing facilities and assisted living organizations (Wilson, 2007). Such companies were not focused on healthcare, as their creators believed in giving older adults more privacy and access to specific necessities via community spaces (Wilson, 2007). The second period lasted from 1986 to 1993, and it was linked with significant changes in policies and regulations regarding assisted living facilities (Wilson, 2007).

During this period, the main formats were described as hybrid, hospitality, housing, and health care models (Wilson, 2007). The third period, during which assisted living facilities were transformed by heavy investments, lasted for six years (Wilson, 2007). However, new money did not bring high-quality services, while the number of such facilities grew exponentially (Wilson, 2007). The fourth period lasts throughout the 21st century, as the industry suffers from a crisis of quality standards (Wilson, 2007). Assisted living residences remain active, although the stagnation is evident.

The author also describes three fundamental features of these aged care organizations. First, accommodations in such facilities give residents private space yet present an opportunity to use community zones for many activities (Wilson, 2007). Moreover, such locations contain routine services, which can be related to healthcare or other quality-of-life improvements (Wilson, 2007). The last distinct feature is the lack of any enforced policies and residents’ freedom to make their decisions (Wilson, 2007). Therefore, assisted living facilities’ goals significantly differ from long-term care services.

Four Emerging Models

There are four distinct types of assisted living that exist today. Facilities with the hybrid model divide their resources between the privacy of personal living spaces and community areas (Wilson, 2007). Such residences provide healthcare services alongside other quality-of-life improvements but do not focus on them (Wilson, 2007). Hospitality centers for assisted living have a different approach, as they take roots in hotel chains that target the aging population (Wilson, 2007). The focus of hospitality facilities for older people is to provide a multitude of services for the satisfaction of their residents’ needs in comfort and entertainment, rather than healthcare (Wilson, 2007).

The third type of assisted living facility is the housing model, as these residences create low-cost real estates where older people have a significant amount of autonomy (Wilson, 2007). Such establishments rarely provide 24-hour support and extensive healthcare (Wilson, 2007). Companies that operate under the health care model deliver services akin to nursing homes, although they put privacy and self-sufficiency of their residents at a higher priority (Wilson, 2007). As can be seen, each type of assisted living facility focuses on a specific customer base.


In conclusion, the article provides an accurate history of the development of assisted living in the United States and overviews four of its modern models. I find the information provided by the author pervasive and easily comprehensible. The description of periods makes it easy for a reader to see the reasons behind differences in the designs of modern assisted living facilities. The existing models highlight the differences in needs among older adults, which can be used for the betterment of policies regarding such residences. I believe that the author’s analysis can be used to improve the services and living standards of those who chose to live in these facilities instead of settling in a nursing home.


Wilson, K. B. (2007). Historical evolution of assisted living in the United States, 1979 to the present. The Gerontologist, 47(3), 8-22. Web.

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