When Did Assisted Living Begin in the U.S.?

December 30th, 2014 by John Wilson

Assisted living in the United States has been around for more than 30 years.

Assisted living dates back to the 1970s.

Assisted living seems commonplace in today’s society. Most folks don’t have to venture too far from home to find their closest facility for assisted living in Oklahoma City or wherever they may reside. According to a study from Harvard, there is an average of 23 assisted-living beds per 1,000 seniors aged 65 and older in the U.S.

Did you know this wasn’t always the case? Assisted living facilities are a relatively recent phenomenon that has been welcomed by both seniors and healthcare professionals. According to most estimates, more than 40,000 assisted living facilities have opened in the U.S. since 1981. The demand for assisted living grew by leaps and bounds during the 1990s as more families saw the benefits to this type of care for their loved ones. Here’s a look back at the development and rise of assisted living facilities.

The 1970s

In the 1970s, advances in medicine increasingly allowed many seniors to age in place, that is, to remain in their home independently and comfortably as they grew older. Senior citizens with minor medical conditions began to hesitate at the thought of spending the rest of their days in a nursing home. There was rampant discussion and rumors around this time that some nursing homes were guilty of neglect and mistreating their patients.

Many nursing homes were often institutional in nature, with communal showers, shared bathrooms and doors that didn’t lock. Seniors felt a lack of privacy and independence in these settings. Dr. Keren Brown Wilson, who is sometimes referred to as the founder of assisted living, saw these issues with her own mother and helped obtain funding for what would eventually be the first recognized assisted living facility in the U.S. located in Portland, Oregon.

The 1980s

Dr. Keren Brown Wilson opened Park Place in 1981 and it was popular from the start. For the first time, residents were able to have a lock on their door. While this was never expressly prohibited at nursing homes, it was uncommon at the time.

Five years later, assisted living facilities often featured 24-hour staffing. Not only did the staff provide personal and health care services, they also provided activities to help foster social interaction among residents. The services were tailored to each resident and could range from administering medication to dementia care to maintenance for incontinence.

The 1990s-2000s

During these years, the number of assisted living openings grew rapidly. Assisted living had become a mainstream option for seniors who no longer wanted the upkeep of living in a large home but still wanted independence. Financial investors made it possible for new facilities to open around the country. These facilities ranged from smaller, private mom and pop establishments to large corporate operations with locations in many areas.

Assisted Living Today

Assisted living in Oklahoma City is a great option for seniors who still want to live independently but need some professional care. It is less intensive than nursing home care because assistant living residents typically don’t have debilitating medical conditions that prevent them from living independently.

If you are looking for an assisted living facility in Oklahoma City, contact us. Our community offers a comfortable environment and compassionate staff.

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