With the leading edge of the baby boom generation reaching retirement age, decisionmakers need a comprehensive understanding of their social, economic, and health characteristics -- both in terms of resources and needs -- in order to adopt effective public policies and private services to meet the needs of an aging population. One area of particular importance is their need for housing and long-term care services. A variety of options is available to meet these needs, including independent living (IL) and assisted living (AL) residences. Previous research has examined various aspects of the individuals who use these seniors' housing and care communities. In the late 1990s, the National Investment Center for the Seniors Housing & Care Industry (NIC) sponsored survey research on the economic status of residents of AL communities. This research found that AL residents had significantly lower incomes than were reported in other industry-sponsored surveys, suggesting that other payment sources -- such as asset liquidation and financial assistance from family members -- could be important in covering the costs of care. More recently, Coe and Boyle (2012) used three existing, nationally representative surveys to compare the economic circumstances of the elderly based on their living arrangements: in private residences, in ALs, in ILs, and in continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs). Their study concludes that while we can learn from nationally representative surveys, they have significant limitations in addressing questions concerning the financial security of residents for three main reasons: (1) it is difficult to consistently identify individuals in senior care communities across the surveys; (2) the sample sizes are very limited for those you can identify, making longitudinal analysis difficult; and (3) the wealth data are insufficient to paint a reliable picture of the economic status of residents of these communities. To fully understand the current and future economic situation of this population, we designed and conducted a new survey, the Residents Financial Survey (RFS), with assistance from ProMatura Group, LLC (ProMatura), to obtain a current economic profile of individuals living in ALs and ILs. This survey gathered information on the income and assets at the time of the survey (2011), as well as retrospective information concerning living arrangements, care provision, and financial gifts given. This paper provides an overview of the survey instrument and design, and details the data-quality analysis undertaken. Further, this paper provides descriptive statistics of the sample and compares it to other available surveys of the same population. We conclude that the data quality is high and quite reliable, and the survey contains a wealth of information about the economic well-being of seniors living in IL and AL communities.
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