The Continuing Evolution of Assisted Living Highlighted in Annual State of the Science Commentary

February 2, 2021

Thorofare, NJ – Each year in the January/February issue, Research in Gerontological Nursing (RGN) publishes a State of the Science Commentary to update the professional community on the state of the science for one aspect of gerontological nursing research. Written by esteemed experts, this contribution to the scientific discussion is designed to review progress, chart the course of future research, and coalesce priorities.

The 2021 State of the Science Commentary, “Assisted Living: Optimal Person–Environment Fit,” by Elena O. Siegel, PhD, RN; Barbara J. Bowers, PhD, RN, FAAN; Paula Carder, PhD, MA; and Heather M. Young, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, provides a research agenda responding to the continued evolution of the environment of assisted living to assure these settings can meet the changing needs of the resident population, while balancing the elements of autonomy and affordability.

“The 2021 Commentary is timely and highlights areas for research to address quality and equity issues resulting when there is a misfit between what the environment affords and the increasingly complex needs of residents in assisted living, amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic,” states Heather M. Young, PhD, RN, FAAN, FGSA, Editor of RGN. “Gerontological nurse researchers are well positioned to identify approaches that optimize health, function, and well-being for the approximately 1 million older adults residing in this setting.“

To optimize the person–environment fit in assisted living, the authors have proposed 19 research questions at the levels of person, environment, and fit. More sophisticated research designs, exploration of multiple perspectives on the same phenomenon, and comparative effectiveness trials could advance the evidence for program improvement and resident outcomes. As assisted living is currently a popular option for older adults, it is important to examine how this environment can evolve to meet their needs.

In a Response to the State of the Science Commentary, Emily Rosenoff, MPA, Division Director for Long-Term Services and Supports Policy, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, addresses the importance of familial involvement to residents of assisted living facilities, something deeply impacted as a result of the current pandemic. In addition, Rosenoff notes, “the disparate health outcomes from COVID-19 have refocused the field on issues around health equity.”

The State of the Science Commentary has become an important, anticipated, and thought-provoking yearly publication in the field of gerontology. Access this year’s article in the free January/February 2021 issue at

Follow the Journal on Twitter: @RGNJournal.


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