What Are the Qualifications and Requirements for Assisted Living?

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional
Updated:

Depending on their situation, some seniors may need or prefer an alternative living arrangement. And when it comes to assisted living, there are specific qualifications to meet in order to be accepted as a potential resident. In this article, we will guide you through some of the qualifications and requirements for assisted living to take note of.

What Are The Qualifications and Requirements for Assisted Living
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As we grow older, our ability to care for ourselves declines. While many elderly people can live comfortably in their own homes, some may need to look for alternative living arrangements.

Seniors can live with family members or get a professional caregiver from a home care agency near them. Sometimes, elderly people may not have family nearby or prefer to live on their own terms in an assisted living community.

Elderly people with more comprehensive care needs may not be eligible to be housed in an assisted living facility and may need to be accommodated in a nursing home instead.

Seniors who require extra support in the form of assisted living or nursing home care have a wide variety of options to choose from.

While transitioning to these care arrangements may seem as easy as choosing a facility and moving in, there is much more involved in the admission process.

We have developed a comprehensive guide that will help you navigate the process of transitioning to an assisted living or nursing home facility. Once you know what to expect, you can confidently deal with any challenges that arise.

qualifications and requirements for assisted living who is eligible
Specific qualifications must be met to be accepted in an assisted living community.

Who is Eligible for Assisted Living?

There are specific qualifications that a potential resident must meet to be accepted into an assisted living community. Although there is no legal age limit for assisted living, the potential resident must be at least 18 years old.

The remaining qualifications revolve around the medical conditions, the level of care involved, as well as the ability of the applicant to pay for the cost of care. 

Potential residents with moderate to severe cognitive impairments may not qualify for assisted living. This includes people with memory and cognitive issues that may require a more monitored environment not offered in assisted living communities. Learn more about people with dementia living in assisted living here.

Seniors with various health conditions requiring constant supervision may also not be suited to assisted living communities. 

Criteria for Assisted Living

Seniors who qualify for an assisted living usually need help with at least two “Activities of Daily Living” or ADLs. Activities of Daily Living include:

  • Making meals
  • Personal care (including bathing, grooming, dressing, etc.) 
  • Managing medication 
  • Ambulation
  • Transferring from sitting to lying, standing, etc.
  • Other activities that an older person must do daily

If you feel your loved one could benefit from assistance on some of these activities, an assisted living facility may be right for them.

Let’s compare the admission criteria of an assisted living facility to that of nursing homes.

RELATED: What Are The Pros And Cons Of Assisted Living?

Who is Eligible for Nursing Home Care?

Nursing homes fall under state and federal jurisdiction. This is one of the main reasons why potential residents must meet a specific set of criteria to qualify for admission. Every state has its own guidelines on who is eligible for nursing home care. 

There are four main areas that most states consider when assessing the eligibility of a candidate seeking nursing home care.

1. Cognitive Impairment

A person’s cognitive ability is usually assessed when being considered for nursing home care. This evaluation is especially necessary for elderly people who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other psychological ailments.

2. Behavioral Problems

Nursing homes must assess potential residents’ behaviors during the admission process. Behavioral problems are common among elderly people who suffer from cognitive impairments.

Elderly people who exhibit behaviors like impulsiveness, aggression, and wandering may be deemed eligible for nursing homes with specialized memory care facilities.

3. Physical Functional Ability

The level of ADLs an elderly person can or cannot do is assessed during admission. To qualify, a person must prove that they can manage to do most of their daily tasks.

However, nursing homes do not require this. Nursing homes are staffed with professional caregivers who are qualified to offer more comprehensive care and assistance than what is offered in assisted living communities.

4. Health Issues and Medical Needs

Potential residents’ health status and medical needs, such as medication maintenance, intravenous injection, catheter care, and other medical-related issues, are assessed. Those with minor medical needs may be recommended for assisted living.

Depending on the state, some nursing homes may require a professional diagnosis from an approved physician or health facility for their specific medical conditions.

qualifications and requirements for assisted living admission criteria
A potential resident’s medical and physical histories are some of the key requirements for admission.

Are There Standardized Admission Criteria for Assisted Living Homes?

Standard admission criteria like official paperwork and tests need to be met for admission. The criteria exist to ensure that only elderly people who require a moderate level of assistance daily can be admitted into these facilities.

Some key requirements for admission include the medical and physical histories of the potential resident. Each applicant is also required to provide a recent chest x-ray or tuberculosis test results. Only candidates who test negative are considered. 

What is the Admission Process Like for Assisted Living Centers?

Seniors may choose to move into an assisted living community directly from their home or the home of their primary caregiver. Sometimes, elderly couples will move to an assisted living community together. Seniors may also be referred to an assisted living facility after being discharged from a hospital or enter into an assisted living arrangement for a short period of time.

Regardless of which route they use for admission, the admission process is the same for every person, though some requirements may differ based on the facility’s location.

Nursing home facilities will need an official doctor’s recommendation for admission if a person is being transferred from a hospital.

RELATED: Advice And Tips On How To Get Your Parents Into Assisted Living

Can You Be Denied Admission to an Assisted Living Facility?

An assisted living facility may deny admission to any person they deem unqualified or inappropriate for different reasons. These facilities are designed to act in the best interests of the people who reside within their communities.

Assisted living facilities are different from nursing homes. The former are residences where people who are otherwise healthy can live and get assistance with “Activities of Daily Living,” while the latter are specialized care facilities for people who need comprehensive care and supervision.

Individuals who can pose a risk to other people in an assisted living facility may be denied admission. 

What Other Options Do You Have if You Don’t Meet the Qualification Criteria?

Sometimes, getting admission into an assisted living or nursing home facility can be difficult. Fortunately, there are other options you can choose from that can work equally well for both you and your loved one.

1. Modify Your Home

Moving your loved one into your home is a possible alternative if they don’t meet the qualifications for an assisted living or nursing home facility.

You can modify your home to make it safe and convenient for your loved ones. For instance, you can install handrails and senior care equipment to make it ideal for them.

2. Adult Daycare

Did you know that there are adult daycares where you can drop off your loved one while you’re at work and pick them up in the evening?

Adult daycares are for elderly people who have difficulties caring for themselves during the day. Adult daycares focus on keeping elderly persons safe and healthy while also giving them various forms of entertainment.

3. Retirement Community

If your aging loved one can’t live with you, you could look for a retirement community where they can get affordable housing and socialize with their peers.

Each retirement community is different. In most cases, people with shared interests live in large homes or apartment buildings. This option offers a unique way for elderly people to stay busy and socialize during their free time.

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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