Understanding Assisted Living

By: HarborView Senior Assisted Living

What was a relatively new concept 25 years ago, assisted living is now the fastest growing long-term care option for seniors. Assisted living facilities, with their wide range of services, provide a senior housing solution for adults who can live independently, but also require some assistance. Assisted living provides a level of care for seniors so they can continue to enjoy their lives even while struggling with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Assisted living homes now have more options than ever before as far as care, food, and activities.

The cost of an assisted living home varies, depending on the type of home it is. The cost depends on the type of residence, the size of the rooms, the types of services needed, and the location of the home. Many homes offer a month-to-month rate for basic services, and then charge extra fees for special services. Some homes may offer a more long-term care payment option.

All assisted living homes and communities are different. Different states and countries have different licensing laws and regulations, so what you see somewhere may be very different than what you see somewhere else. Some homes are connected to medical buildings, so they can provide more advanced medical care, but most assisted living homes provide basic daily care and monitoring. This daily care and monitoring usually includes some or all of the following:

  • 24 hour supervision and security
  • Trained nurses and caregivers
  • 3 daily meals plus snacks
  • Basic housekeeping and laundry
  • Health and fitness programs
  • Social, creative, or spiritual programs
  • Transportation
  • Access to medical services
  • Bathing and dressing
  • Medication reminders and management

Many assisted living homes are specialized for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These homes require a higher level of care for its residents. Some of the extra services that these homes provide are: day care, long-term care, palliative care, respite, short-term care, and hospice. They may also offer rooms where the partner of a loved one can stay with the resident in the assisted living home.

Every assisted living home or community has its own “personality”. Some communities are more formal and traditional, whereas others are more home-like with a down-to-earth ambiance. The design style of homes will differ – one may be mid-century modern, while another looks like a country living home. Some communities are in the middle of sprawling urban cities, some are situated in the suburbs, and some may be out in the farm lands, hills everywhere in sight.

Some assisted living homes allow pets, and some allow your partner to live with you, even if they don’t need care themselves. Some homes are more “nursing care” for people with greater needs, and some are mainly independent homes with care for basic tasks. You can search out assisted living communities that are ethnically and culturally diverse.

So now that we know that assisted living homes can look so different from each other, here are some things to consider when you are choosing a home for yourself or a loved one:

  1. What is your personality like? Do you like the buzz of a big city or do you like to be out in nature? Do you like your surroundings to be homey and cozy, or do you prefer up-to-date style and clean decorating lines?
  2. How far is the home from loved ones who will want to visit? Is it close enough for frequent visits and guests?
  3. Is the staff professional and well-trained? Are they friendly, kind, safe, and good at their jobs?
  4. Is the food appealing to you? Is it healthy? Do they offer snacks throughout the day in between meals?
  5. Are the rooms clean and well taken care of?

Obviously there are many more questions to ask, but that is a good starting point when trying to narrow down your choices. Making the decision for where you will live is a big one, so it’s important to be knowledgeable about what’s out there.

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