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The Gerontologist 47:83-99 (2007)
© 2007 The Gerontological Society of America

Families and Assisted Living

Joseph E. Gaugler, PhD1 and Robert L. Kane, MD2

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Joseph E. Gaugler, PhD, Center on Aging, Center for Gerontological Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Minnesota, 6-150 Weaver-Densford Hall, 1331, 308 Harvard Street SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455. E-mail: gaug0015{at}

Purpose: Despite growing research on assisted living (AL) as a residential care option for older adults, the social ramifications of residents' transitions to AL are relatively unexplored. This article examines family involvement in AL, including family structures of residents, types of involvement from family members living outside the AL facility, and outcomes for these family members. Design and Methods: We reviewed current literature utilizing the MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and CINAHL databases to identify AL studies that examined issues pertaining to families or informal care. Following the screening of abstracts, we retrieved 180 reports for further review and selected 62 studies for inclusion. Results: Families visit residents frequently and provide a wide range of instrumental assistance but provide only minimal personal care. Studies of family outcomes indicated relatively high satisfaction but potential care burden as well. Implications: How family care and involvement occurs in AL in relation to formal care provision and whether various types of formal/informal care integration influence family outcomes remains unclear. We suggest a research agenda that attempts to tease out causal relationships for family involvement, differentiate family roles, and implement longitudinal analyses for a range of family outcomes.

Key Words: Family caregiving • Residential care • Long-term care • Informal care

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Copyright © 2007 by The Gerontological Society of America.