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Increased assisted living options lead to decline in nursing home occupancy

May 30, 2012

Many older adults want to avoid nursing homes at all costs, and thanks to a growing number of assisted living options, they have been able to do just that. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found nursing home occupancy has been on the decline with the advent of more assistant living options.

The study was recently published in Health Services Research, and is some of the first substantial research conducted on the topic. The team was led by David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, who looked at state-by-state data on assisted living compared to nursing home residency.

"We found that a 10 percent increase in assisted living capacity led to a 1.4 percent decline in private-pay nursing home occupancy," Grabowski said. "It's not a huge effect and it's not a one-to-one substitution, but I think this is a pretty sizable relationship."

The definition of what constitutes assisted living can differ, but most people agree the term refers to retirement communities that help facilitate independent senior living such as healthcare and assistance with everyday living. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, more than 900,000 people in the United States live in such a setting.