Why are assisted living facilities so popular? Just ask Paul Klaassen, CEO of Fairfax, Virginia-based Sunrise Assisted Living, a chain of more than three dozen residential elder-care facilities. "Americans are dissatisfied with existing options," says Klaassen. "[The typical] nursing home is expensive, offers a low quality of life and has a hospital environment not designed for long-term stays."
Assisted living residences, on the other hand, offer residents a homelike environment, much like apartment living, that provides the help they need, whether with taking medication, bathing, dressing, eating or transportation. This relative independence is vital to today's aging population, says Karen Wayne, executive director of the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA).
Since emerging in the late '80s, the assisted living industry has experienced astonishing growth. In six short years, membership in ALFA has soared from zero to 2,600 members. "Consumers are demanding this type of long-term care," says Wayne. And with America getting even grayer as baby boomers head toward their golden years, Klaassen notes, "You have all the ingredients for explosive growth."