Even the healthiest among us are prone to slips, trips and falls. Most of the time, we can just pick ourselves up and carry on. For older relatives, however, there's a much higher risk of bone fractures due to progressive loss of bone mass. An otherwise perfectly healthy (albeit somewhat unsturdy) elder may suffer a serious injury that then presents new challenges in healing and continued care.
Often, the homes we live in when we are in our 60s and 70s are no longer safe when we reach our 80s or 90s. Stairways, serpentine hallways, slippery tile and tall shelving units present potentially dangerous obstacles that must be negotiated daily. Also, large yards with uneven terrain, poorly lit rooms or small bathrooms in the home of an aging loved one may give family members good reason for pause.
When older family members are still too independent for full-time nursing-home care, many need a much lesser degree of help with daily tasks. These tasks include bathing, cooking, eating, changing clothes and getting safely into and out of the bathtub. For these people, assisted living may be the answer. Assisted living facilities fill a gap between complete independence and around-the-clock care. It's an option for those who are "mostly abled" and who still want (and can safely live with) a high degree of freedom and independence.