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Gerontologist. 2007;47 Spec No 3:23-32.

The place of assisted living in long-term care and related service systems.

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  • 1American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging, 2519 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA.



The purpose of this article is to describe how assisted living (AL) fits with other long-term-care services.


We analyzed the evolution of AL, including the populations served, the services offered, and federal and state policies that create various incentives or disincentives for using AL to replace other forms of care such as nursing home care or home care.


Provider models that have emerged include independent senior housing with services, freestanding AL, nursing home expansion, and continuing care retirement communities. Some integrated health systems have also built AL into their array of services. Federal and state policy rules for financing and programs also shape AL, and states vary in how deliberately they try to create an array of options with specific roles for AL. Among state policies reviewed are reimbursement and rate-setting policies, admission and discharge criteria, and nurse practice policies that permit or prohibit various nursing tasks to be delegated in AL settings. Recent initiatives to increase flexible home care, such as nursing home transition programs, cash and counseling, and money-follows-the-person initiatives may influence the way AL emerges in a particular state.


There is no single easy answer about the role of AL. To understand the current role and decide how to shape the future of AL, researchers need information systems that track the transitions individuals make during their long-term-care experiences along with information about the case-mix characteristics and service needs of the clientele.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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