What Is Assisted Living?

As older adults continue to live longer and healthier lives, many aging seniors and their family members are looking for ways to reduce stress, enhance quality of life, ensure personal senior care with activities of daily living (ADLs) and enjoy as much independence as possible.

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Most Assisted Living communities will offer the ability to live privately and independently in your own apartment-style housing while also providing meals, housekeeping, maintenance, on-site nurses, and planned social activities. 

A health assessment, according to state regulations, helps determine the level of care and support needed by each individual resident. Assisted living communities may be an excellent option for your loved one, as they are still excited to enjoy an active lifestyle while also receiving needed assistance from professionally trained and caring staff members.

What Do Assisted Living Communities Provide?

Assisted Living communities provide a wide variety of helpful services and amenities for residents to enjoy with personalized care in their own residential environment. Most assisted living communities will provide housekeeping, nutritional meals served in dining rooms, medication management, and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). 

ADLs can include going to the bathroom, help getting dressed, and brushing teeth, or grooming. Help with mobility, laundry, transportation service, and organized social activities are also provided. Care coordination and helping residents to stay connected with Dr. appointments and pharmacy needs is another important provision of assisted living communities that can bring peace of mind for loved ones and family members. 

Premium assisted living communities may also provide amenities such as a library for reading and gatherings, game or billiard room, chapel, private event space, outdoor patios and courtyards, swimming pools or spa, beauty salons, movie theater room, fitness center, and art and crafts room. Residents enjoy personalizing their living space and apartment with personal items and their own decorations and furnishings. 

Safety and security are a top priority with on-site staff available 24 hours a day to take care of residents’ needs. Assisted living also provides plenty of opportunities for social connection and continued learning as there are often scheduled activities and educational classes available. Some assisted living facilities also provide a continuum of care and will be close by or right next to a memory care community in case their needs change over time. 

How Do You Know When It’s Time For Assisted Living?

The conversations and decisions around when it is time for a loved one to move into an assisted living community can be difficult and often feel intimidating for family and loved ones to think about. Caregivers are doing their best and may be wondering if it is enough. Aging seniors might be accidentally forgetting a medication now and then while caregivers are at work and would really benefit from someone helping to remind them. Perhaps the added financial needs of in-home care or services may be adding up to more than the monthly cost of a high-quality assisted living community. 

There are many reasons for family members to begin considering assisted living and many things to think about when selecting one. It is important to understand that this decision may be a bit overwhelming and also something to look forward to at the same time. Oftentimes, the idea of cleaning through a household filled with many years of memories or saying goodby to a familiar home or part of town can be daunting. 

Daughter hugging mother with Dementia

There can also be extra relief and comfort for family members knowing that a loved one can have enhanced quality of life, personal care services from trained staff, and still be able to live privately and independently with plenty of opportunities to enjoy activities and social interactions as they choose. Some things to consider when trying to decide when it may be time for a loved one to move into assisted living are:

Health and Medical Needs Increase

Aging can often bring about increased health issues and medical attention needs. Sometimes food and meal preparation can become increasingly difficult to make sure that nutritional needs are being properly met. If a loved one has experienced a fall, either with or without an injury, this can increase awareness and the need for specialized housing areas with few to no stairs, elevators, and handrails in showers and bathrooms. More help may be needed taking regular medications on time or getting to necessary appointments. Aging with a chronic condition can also require more specialized focused care that assisted living services are readily prepared to provide. 

Feelings of loneliness or isolation

Many seniors can begin to feel a sense of loneliness or isolation. Even if they are relatively healthy and able to do many things on their own, if they are living alone at their home or with a family member who is not home or available all of the time, feelings of isolation can begin to set in. Strong feelings of loneliness can often lead to chronic health issues or unhealthy behaviors. Caregivers are doing the best they can and are often also balancing their own families, part-time or full-time work, and other commitments within their communities. Intentional and consistent social interactions provided in assisted living communities can help reduce and remove feelings of isolation or loneliness and instead rekindle the enjoyment of friends and activities. 

Stress For Caregivers

Most often, caregivers are doing their best and giving as much time and attention as possible to their aging loved one. Whether their loved one lives in their home with them or still lives independently and requires frequent visits, the time commitment to caregiving can often be more than anyone expects it to be. Caregivers often have their own families and are always trying to balance their time between needs. There are usually financial costs that come with caregiving and are often higher than planned. Many caregivers pay for things such as food, gas, travel, and transportation as well as medications out of their own pockets at times. Caregiving for a loved one can also increase emotional and physical issues for a caregiver as feelings of anxiety, sadness, exhaustion, and frustration can eventually become a frequent reality. 

Hygiene

Activities of daily living (ADLs) can often become overlooked or more difficult to manage for seniors. Tasks such as bathing, brushing teeth, using the bathroom, grooming, and getting dressed can become more tedious over time and may require daily assistance to maintain good hygiene and cleanliness. Care services provided in assisted living communities bring added peace of mind knowing a loved one is well taken care of. 

Cost of Assisted Living

The cost of assisted living for older adults varies greatly depending on the community as well as the size of the apartment, levels of services required, and the location of the community. Assisted living is typically less expensive than in-home health care or nursing care. Most assisted living residents pay for their assisted living with their personal financial resources. There may be insurance options that apply but will depend on long-term care coverage. 

Assisted Living Compared To Nursing Home

Assisted living communities can often be confused with nursing homes. While both provide a place of housing, meals, and help with activities of daily living, nursing homes provide a level of health care for seniors who require skilled nursing services. Assisted living communities offer licensed nursing and professional staff to help with ADLs, however, their residents are still relatively independent with an active lifestyle and do not require 24-hour supervision. 

Nursing home residents may often have to share a room with someone else while assisted living residents have private independent apartment-style housing. The financial cost of nursing homes is higher than assisted living because of the level of medical care and supervision needed. 

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