Americans generally have a favorable opinion of senior living options, especially independent and assisted living, according to a new national survey commissioned by the National Center for Assisted Living and conducted by Morning Consult. Some members of the public, however, may need educating as to the definition of assisted living.

Morning Consult surveyed 2,018 registered voters from Nov. 20 to 23. The research revealed that, of those who had heard of and had an opinion of various types of senior living, the following options were viewed somewhat or very favorably by these percentages of participants:

  • Independent living, 79%
  • Assisted living facilities, 75%
  • Assisted living communities, 74%
  • Residential care communities, 68%
  • Residential care facilities, 67%
  • Nursing facilities, 61%
  • Nursing homes, 56%

NCAL tested two variations of some setting names to see whether the difference affected people’s perceptions. The results weren’t statistically significant, but participants did reveal a slight preference for assisted living facilities over assisted living communities, residential care communities over residential care facilities, and nursing facilities over nursing homes.

When asked what they would prefer to do if they were no longer able to live on their own, respondents mostly were split between moving into an assisted living community (28%), moving in with a family member (28%) or hiring an in-home caregiver (25%).

“Many would assume that all Americans want to stay in their home for the rest of their lives, but this research shows that some, in fact, want the option of residing in an assisted living community,” NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle said in a statement.

Survey answers indicate that some poll-takers, however, need to be educated about what assisted living is. Although 51% of respondents defined assisted living as “long-term care for people who need some assistance, but not 24-7 care,” 10% said it was “long-term care for people who need 24-7 care,” and 8% said it was “similar to a nursing home.”

Of survey participants, 19% were aged 45 to 54 years, 19% were aged 55 to 64 and 21% were aged more than 65 years. The survey was conducted online, and results have a margin of error of 2 percentage points.