What Is the Main Purpose of Having Common Areas in Assisted Living Settings?

Assisted living facilities are designed for individuals who require very little in the way of daily care. They need some assistance, but residents of an assisted living facilities are typically quite independent. Assisted living facilities are not designed to provide medical care. Assisted living facilities are also known as:

  • Congregate housing
  • Residential care
  • Adult congregate care
  • Domiciliary care

There are about 1.2 million people living in assisted care facilities in the United States at this time. There are about 30,000 assisted care facilities in operation at this time. This results in an average of 40 residents in an assisted living facility. The reality is that many, many assisted living facilities have significantly more than 40 residents. Smaller facilities have somewhere in the neighborhood of seven to a dozen residents. 

One thing that all assisted living facilities have in common are common areas. This raises the question as to why assisted living facilities have common areas. 

Primary Purpose of Common Areas in Assisted Living Facilities

There is one primary purpose for having common area in assisted living facilities. This is socialization between residents of these communities. 

While the focus behind assisted living is on aiding older individuals in addressing some of the basic tasks of day to day living, that most definitely is not the only goal of these types of centers. Assisted living is also designed to help older women and men in maintaining contact with others, in socializing with others, in feeling a direct part of a community of similarly situated individuals.

Use of Common Areas in Assisted Living Facilities

Understanding the primary purpose behind common areas in assisted living centers, it is also important to come to an understanding of how the key objective of these spaces is accomplished. This is done through the varied uses of common spaces of common areas in an assisted living community. These uses include:

  • Educational, informational, and enrichment programming
  • Fitness programming
  • Entertainment programming
  • Informal gathering of residents of an assisted living community
  • Gatherings between residents and their family members
  • Dining and meals
  • Parties and similar events
  • Presentations and performances by outside guests
  • Holiday events and celebrations
  • Religious and spiritual programming

Smaller Versus Larger Assisted Living Communities

The size of an assisted living community does impact the manner in which community space is utilized. Sometimes, but not always, smaller communities have less community space available. We do say sometimes because there are instances when smaller communities are dedicated to setting aside more space as common areas than is the case with larger communities. Larger communities, on the other hand, may enhance the versatility of a smaller amount of common space to accomplish wider usage of lesser floor space set aside to common community purposes.

Special Focus of an Assisted Living Program

Some assisted living programs have a more special or specific focus when it comes to its objective and resident population. For example, there are assisted living communities devoted to serving the needs of veterans. There are gender specific assisted living communities like Mom’s Garden. 

When an assisted living program is more focused on serving a specific population or in having more targeted resident offerings, the manner in which common areas will be used naturally reflects that orientation. This fact points to the importance of touring or visiting an assisted living community being considered by an older individual, which is discussed at this time.

Importance of Touring Assistance Living Facilities

A paramount element of the due diligence process when looking for the most suitable assisted living community is touring or visiting different facilities. An assisted living community staff should welcome the idea of tours and visits.

Ideally an assisted living community visit includes not only a prospective resident but her adult children or some other trusted family members or friends. More eyes on a facility ensures a better evaluation of what a community has to offer a resident.

Special attention during a visit to an assisted living community needs to be paid on common areas. This includes finding out how much space is set aside as common space. It also includes learning about how common areas are utilized at a particular assisted living facility.

Because the manner in which certain common spaces are used during the day, and because this use can change from one day to the next, the ideal course of action is to visit an assisted living community on different days and at different times. As a matter of routine, assisted living facilities are used to prospective residents visiting or touring their facilities more than once and at different days of the week and at various times of the day. In the end, this truly is the best practice for getting a real feel as to whether or not a particular assisted living community makes the most sense for an older person.