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Deaf Assisted Living Guide

Deaf Assisted Living

Last Updated: March 10, 2015

A Sign of the Times: Communities Designed for Deaf Seniors

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, disabling hearing loss affects 25% of seniors aged 65 to 74 and 50% of seniors aged 75 and older. Yet even with alarming stats like these, deaf assisted living is a fairly recent trend; the first deaf assisted living community in the United States - Gresham, Oregon's Chestnut Lane - has only been in operation since 2003. Demand has risen quickly, however, and there are now more than a dozen deaf-exclusive retirement facilities in the US, all of which frequently draw residents from hundreds of miles away.

Deaf Assisted Living FAQ

What is deaf assisted living? How is it different from "deaf-friendly" or standard care?

Both the concept of deaf assisted living and the terminology used to describe it are fairly new; thus, terms may be used inconsistently. Generally speaking, most assisted living facilities are "deaf-friendly" in that they can accommodate deaf seniors, but complete deaf assisted living facilities are designed specifically for deaf residents and serve them almost exclusively.

What types of amenities do deaf assisted living facilities offer?

Specific accommodations may vary from community to community, but common features include the following:

  • Staff Fluent in American Sign Language
    In fact, many times, staff members are deaf themselves. Sign-language interpreters are generally also on hand to help patients interact with non-community members.
  • Alternative Alarm Systems
    From "doorbells" that light up to fire alarms that make use of high-intensity strobe lights or bed vibrations, emergency communication systems at deaf assisted living facilities do not require the ability to hear.
  • Specialized Audiovisual Equipment
    Video conferencing systems that allow residents to communicate with sign language and caption-enabled televisions are standard.

Deaf Assisted Living Communities










Deaf Community Resources for Seniors

In addition to assisted living facilities for the deaf, most major cities have social clubs and support groups for deaf seniors. To learn more about programs and activities in your area, contact one of the following groups:

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