Independent living in their own home is the preference stated by most seniors.
At some point, though, family caregivers may need to help find a new housing arrangement to meet the needs of their senior loved ones.
Is assisted living on the list of options your senior would consider for their future?
Should it be?
Did you know that, according to the Small Business Development Center, more than one million seniors currently live in assisted living facilities?
What is an assisted living facility (ALF)? The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) defines an ALF as “a housing and health-care option that combines independence and personal care in a residential setting.”
If this becomes an option for your senior, what should you look for in a facility, what will meet your senior’s needs, what should you all expect in the facility offerings and how can your family select the best facility?
Assisted Living Facility Features
An assisted living facility provides care for seniors who need more help with dressing, grooming, taking medications, preparing meals, doing housework, and other activities.
These facilities do not offer the intense level of medical and nursing services that a long term care facility would provide.
When activities of daily living become more than a person can safely complete in their home, the next step is often a move to assisted living.
Here are some of the features you can expect to find in an assisted living facility:
- Provide a long term living situation to meet the individual needs of each senior
- Depending on what is needed, these facilities can provide housing; healthcare; assistance with activities of daily living such as medication dispensing, bathing, grooming, household chores; congregate meals; activities to relieve boredom; socialization with peers; spiritual events; physical activities and social engagement
- Involve families in the care and progress of their senior loved ones
- Improve the independence of seniors as they transition from the home setting with increased assistance to improve their function
- Provide transportation to nearby shopping, health professionals and entertainment
- Some provide memory care services for those requiring more direction and assistance
- Provide home like setting with comfort and style maintaining privacy combined with a variety of amenities
- 24 hour assistance provided and may include security around the clock
- Cost will vary depending on the services your senior requires
- The resident is responsible for payment unless a long term care insurance plan is available to reimburse the cost of care
Different Assisted Living Models and Requirements
Assisted living homes can be part of a larger organization or community or simply a stand alone building. The requirements and regulations vary from state to state.
In some states, they are called personal care homes, residential and congregate care.
Usually a person lives in his or her own apartment within the ALF and maintains as much independence as possible with help coming into the apartment based on their needs.
Meals are served in a dining room setting with planned menus.
Services often include:
- Health monitoring
- Assistance with activities of daily living such as toileting, grooming, bathing, dressing
You can’t assume each facility offers the services your senior needs or will need in the future.
Assisted Living Facility Selection Considerations
There are many factors to consider when looking for the right assisted facility for your senior’s new home.
- Location – is it close to family and friends so that they can visit regularly?
- What are the available desired amenities such as beauty shop, meals that meet your seniors needs, caring staff, comfortable apartments, cost of services, pleasing atmosphere, welcoming staff, cleanliness, free of odors, well maintained grounds and common areas, and how are emergencies handled.
- Does the facility desire to maintain dignity and respect as well as the highest level of quality of life for your senior? Is your senior involved with the plan of care?
- Will your senior’s privacy be maintained?
- Do they offer choices to your senior, including meals, activities, and desired amenities to maintain their independence? Read the activity calendar and see if the social events are of interest. Are there appropriate spiritual events for your loved one or you?
- Is the facility and its location safe?
- Do you understand and agree with the fees charged and facility policies? Ask what is included in the basic rate and what services will be extra.
- Are you fully aware of what might constitute unplanned discharge from the facility? What functional or behavioral changes will result in a discharge?
- Can seniors bring their own furniture and mementos?
- Are pets allowed?
- Does the dining program adjust for medical needs? Are between meal snacks offered? Can they eat when hungry or are there set meal times?
- What do you foresee the needs will be in the future and can this facility meet those needs?
- Can you stay there if you become cognitively impaired? (Alzheimer’s disease or dementia)
- Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been made.
You can expect to pay less for an assisted living facility than a nursing home, but it is still likely to be expensive. You get what you pay for so a cheaper fee may mean less services or even care below your standards. An average cost is $1,800/month, but averages will vary across the country.
The cost of assisted living is usually paid by the elder or his family but some long term care insurance policies will pay some of the cost. Sometimes financial assistance is available from the facility or if you qualify, Medicaid can help.
Seniors Like the Change – Really!
We speak with many seniors who are very happy and enjoying themselves in assisted living facilities.
They are relieved of the burden of caring for their home, cooking their own meals or feeling lonely.
There are fun activities and new people to spend time with every day.
Although it is true that many of our seniors wish to age in place but there are also many who are struggling living alone and need more assistance to stay safely independent.
Whether you call it an assisted living facility, continuing care retirement facility, retirement home, residential care facility, congregate living facility, personal care home, or community residence, you may find that your senior will be happy to have made a change.
Careful investigation of facilities near you, visiting each center and speaking with staff and residents, and including your senior in the decision will make it a smoother transition for the entire family.
Assisted living facilities can offer you and your loved ones a safe, caring, friendly environment full of fun activities. These facilities can bridge the gap between independent and dependent living situations when staying in the home is no longer the best option.
If you wish to learn more about assisted living facilities or to locate participating centers, contact ALFA (now known as Argentum).
We wish you and your senior well as you plan home transitions!