Assisted Living: What Is the Difference Between a Shared Room and a Private Room

The United States Census Bureau reports that approximately 11 million people in the country aged 65 and older live alone. Living alone does not necessarily mean a senior is lonely or socially isolated. Nonetheless, living on one’s own is a predisposing factor for loneliness and social isolation.

A study from the National Academy of Sciences reveals that both loneliness and social isolation are associated with an increase in the risk of mortality. This study and others conclude that loneliness and social isolation can potentially impact both physical and mental health negatively.

A recurring and commonplace reason why seniors elect to move to an assisted living community is that they want to enhance their socialization. In some instances, family members of a senior believe that an older person would be well served to have more social contact consistently.

In this article, we take a moment to discuss different individual living options available at a typical assisted living community in the United States. We do this to enhance senior socialization and an older person’s overall health and well-being.

Types of Living Options in an Assisted Living Community

There are a number of more commonplace living arrangements in a typical assisted living community in the United States. These are:

  • Apartment
  • Studio
  • Private room
  • Semi-private (or shared) room

An apartment in an assisted living community is quite like an apartment in a standard building. In an assisted living apartment, a resident typically has a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, and living-dining space. There are assisted living communities that have more than one bedroom as well.

A studio unit in an assisted living community is akin to a studio apartment outside this type of long-term care community. This type of living unit typically has one large space that serves as a sleeping area, living room, and dining room. An assisted living studio usually has a kitchen. There is a bathroom in the unit as well.

A private room in an assisted living community is designed to house one resident. A private room type has its own bathroom. With that said, there are assisted living options (particularly small ones in residence for under eight to 10 people) that will have a shared bathroom.

In a semi-private room in an assisted living community, residents share a room and bathroom. In such a setting, some leeway is given to allow residents to decide who they would like to live with if possible.

Benefits of a Private Room in an Assisted Living Community

The major benefit of having a private room in an assisted living community is privacy. A resident of assisted living with a private room has a space that is his or her own. Within the rules of a particular assisted living community, a resident with a private room can do as he or she pleases within the space.

Private rooms are more expensive than semi-private or shared rooms in long-term care facilities. Therefore, economics is often a driving factor as to whether or not a senior moves into an apartment, studio, private room, or shared room when the time comes to move into an assisted living community.

Benefits of a Semi-private Room in an Assisted Living Community

If a senior does have an issue with social isolation, a move into a shared room in assisted living might be a good plan of action. Provided that a senior is paired with a roommate that a resident likes and is comfortable with, a semi-private room situation can prove to be a solid living situation. Before moving into an assisted living community, it is imperative to understand a facility’s practices regarding pairing roommates for shared living spaces. You also need to know policies in place if roommates are not getting along decently in a shared room.

Another benefit of a semi-private room in an assisted living community is cost. In the overall scheme of things, a shared room is typically the most affordable living arrangement in a typical assisted living community. If finances are less plentiful, a shared room in an assisted living facility can be a practical alternative for seniors. In conclusion, due diligence is important before deciding to move to a particular assisted living facility. At the heart of due diligence is examining the different individual living spaces available in a specific assisted living community. In the end, a senior and his or her family must weigh and balance the pros and cons of different living options, including considering a private room versus a shared living space.