Assisted Living on Cape Cod


Cape Cod commercial fishing boat

(CAPE COD)  The Cape has two major industries which support most people who live down here who work - tourism and retirement, and that includes assisted living on Cape Cod.

These two industries are linked through real estate - this decade's summer home becomes the next's retirement home. Eventually, the retirement home may be sold to pay for assisted living or nursing home care, and the cycle begins anew.

We do have our cranberry bogs and fishermen, and though picturesque, they are an ever smaller part of our economy. We have an extensive infrastructure to support our retirement community - a great selection of top flight assisted living facilities, a similar number of skilled care facilities, excellent senior public housing, thousands of well built, affordable ranch style homes and a range of social services to support our community through the aging process.


"Assisted Living" is a commonly used term that actually does not have a strict, legal definition. One of the problems faced by the growth of assisted living across the country has been the development of a definition that adequately informs consumers and others as to the type of care that can be provided while encouraging innovation and variations from one assisted facility to another.


Generally, 'assisted living' is for people who are mostly independent and fairly healthy, but need help with the activities of daily living [ADL], such as transportation, assistance with medications, preparing meals and eating, bathing, dressing, housekeeping and getting to the doctor's office. These facilities are a bridge between independent living (in a private residence, independent living facility or 'continuing care retirement community' [CCRC]) and nursing home care. Assisted living facilities can be temporary, for rehabilitation, or long-term.

Residents of 'Independent' or 'Senior' Living facilities do not recieve assistance with ADL's from the facility, but may privately contract for these services.

One of the main features of most assisted living facilities is immediate access to emergency help for residents through a pull cord or necklace alarm system that alerts staff if a residents falls or has some other emergency. Quick response to a fall, stroke and other health emergency can minimize damage that would be life threatening in a private residence.

On the Cape and elsewhere assisted living centers cater to an affluent clientele, offering plush common facilities (dining rooms, recreation areas, sitting areas, gardens, etc.,) and spacious one and two bedroom "apartments" with handicap accessible bathrooms. Apartments usually include scaled down but fully functional kitchens, though some facilities (the 'independent living' type) include the full blown gourmet variety.

Assisted living offers many advantages to residents, not the least being the social interaction between residents. Often, aging in a single family residence means increasing isolation, whereas in assisted living facility most meals are served in a dining room, so residents see their neighbors far more than they would 'at home'. Most facilities also have a activities director to organize social activities, outings and holiday events.

Facilities also offer physical and mental health programs or rehab services, which is important to seniors who's goal is to regain their health and get back into a more independent living arrangement.


In other areas of the country 'assisted living' can be as simple as a large private residence which takes in older boarders who need some assistance with daily living. The definition of assisted living is broad, and may change dramatically as the result of a program buried within the massive scope of the Health Care Reform Act.

Along with many other changes no one knew were contained in the massive "Health Care Reform", aka "Obamacare", passed in 2010, is "The Community Living Assistance Service and Supports [CLASS} Act", which gives the Federal Government a new, far larger role in paying for assisted living.

If past experience with introduction of federal monies is a guide, prices and regulation of assisted living on Cape Cod and elsewhere should increase dramatically. Within a short period of time locally owned facilities will disappear, becoming part of large, national health care companies, and the distinctive flavor of assisted living facilities on Cape Cod will be lost.

Our blog posts on this subject are located here.

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