The term “assisted living” has become so common in discussions of senior living and lifestyle, it may come as a surprise to some to know that such facilities are a relatively new concept. But learning about the history of assisted living and more specifically Little Rock assisted living may help explain why it truly is the best option for many seniors. Below, we go over the history of this unique alternative to traditional senior housing, and discuss what’s going on in the world of assisted living today.

How did assisted living begin?

Before the 1970s, seniors who were in need of care basically had two options, according to AssistedLivingFacilities.org. They could age in place with the help of a family caregiver or hired medical staff, or they could enter a nursing home. Sadly, there were widespread reports of elder abuse in nursing homes during that time. Additionally, many seniors felt that while they couldn’t live completely on their own, they were still independent and able-bodied, and not in need of the higher level of care offered at nursing facilities. These two factors are what eventually prompted the call for a new choice for older adults.

In the mid-1970s, a 60-year-old woman living in a nursing home named Jessie F. Richardson spoke with her daughter, Dr. Karen Brown Wilson, about helping older adults in her situation, reports AssistedLivingHistory.com. Richardson urged her daughter to take a stance for seniors who needed care, but wanted options. Her mother’s encouragement led Wilson to spend her life creating what is today known as “assisted living.” She examined current nursing facilities to find out what some seniors didn’t like about them. She identified factors that made the nursing homes feel “institutionalized.” Such aspects as shared bathrooms and doors that didn’t have locks caused a lack of privacy among seniors.

In 1981, Wilson opened what is widely regarded as the first assisted living facility in Portland, Oregon, and it was a success from the start. It took a few more years, however, before it began to resemble the assisted living we know today. By 1986, her facility had medical staff on hand around the clock, as well as organized social activities for residents. Over time, particularly within the last two decades, the idea caught on like wildfire, and assisted living facilities have now become the preferred choice for many older adults.

Little Rock Assisted Living today

Today, assisted living is known as the ideal lifestyle for older persons who want to age independently, actively and safely. The increase in the number of seniors that is expected to happen over the next few years as the Baby Boomer generation reaches retirement age is only expected to expand options and styles of assisted living.

Facilities are now beginning to tailor their appearance and offerings to suit certain populations, what’s known as “niche housing,” according to Fox Business.

“We’ve reached the stage of evolution where, rather than all these assisted living facilities looking alike, recognizing that there’s a large population of seniors out there so we can divide into specialty housing,” Andrew Carle, founding director of the Senior Housing Administration program at George Mason University, told the news source.

There are now various housing styles for seniors of different ethnicities, sexual orientations, and interests. Assisted living communities have also changed in what they offer seniors. Many now provide opportunities for continuing education, so seniors can continue to grow and expand their minds as they age. There has also been work done at the political level to help make such housing affordable, so that more seniors can enjoy the benefits of Little Rock assisted living.

For more information about Little Rock Assisted Living contact us at The Manor today at 501-444-2390.

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