Background: Community-based residential settings (e.g., assisted living facilities and retirement communities), are increasing, where vulnerable older adults are living as they age and die. Despite prevalent serious illness, functional impairment, and dementia among residents, the mix and types of built-in services available are not known. Objective: To classify older adults in community-based residential settings by the types of services available and examine associations between service availability and hospice use and location of death. Design: Pooled cross-sectional analysis. Setting: Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey data (2002-2018). Subjects: U.S. adults 65 years of age and older, who lived in a community-based residential setting and died between 2002 and 2018 (N = 1006). Measurements: Availability (yes/no) of nursing care, medication assistance, meals, laundry, cleaning, transportation, and recreation. Results: Our sample resided in assisted living facilities (32.0%), retirement communities (29.0%), senior citizen housing (13.7%), continuing care facilities (13.5%), and other (11.8%). Four classes of individuals with distinct combinations of available services were identified: 48.2% lived in a residence with all measured services available; 29.1% had availability of all services, except nursing care and medication assistance; 12.6% had availability of only recreation and transportation services; and 10.1% had minimal/no service availability. Of the 51.8% of older adults residing in settings without clinical services, more than half died at home and fewer than half died with hospice. Conclusions: The majority of older adults who die in community-based residential settings do not have access to built-in clinical services. Palliative care training for staff in these settings may be warranted, given variable rates of hospice use and high rates of home death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1682-1688
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Palliative Medicine
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • assisted living
  • community-based residential setting
  • end of life
  • geriatrics
  • hospice


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