Are you (or a loved one) at an age where you would like to give up some of the responsibilities for home care? Or personal care?
Do you (or your loved one) live alone and feel increasingly isolated from other people? Would you (or your loved one) like to have some amenities, such as movies or special meals, available to you?
Have some people you know moved into assisted living? Have other people, such as professional caregivers, urged you (or your loved one) to consider this as well?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you might already be asking yourself, “Should I move to an assisted living community?” Or, “Should I move my loved one into such a community?”
Five Reasons Why You (or your Loved One) Should Consider an Assisted Living Community
As you read the following reasons, take note of how we qualify the information we give. Making decisions about moving into assisted living is no small undertaking, and you need to be aware of all the nuances.
1. You Won’t Need to Take Care of Everything Yourself
This is probably the best part for most people.
Assisted living communities offer housekeeping and grounds-keeping services. You won’t need to do these things yourself or hire and supervise someone else who does them.
If you have an exercise routine, there probably are facilities for this on site, maybe physical therapy as well
If you’re looking for socializing and entertainment, you most likely can find some of this on site–with options at some facilities ranging from playing cards to movies to an occasional field trip opportunity.
2. You Can Expect Some Degree of Assistance With Other Needs
According to AssistedLivingFacilities.org, a very helpful source of assisted living data and other information, some general titles of staff that you might find at larger assisted living facilities include:
- Medical Director
- Director of Nursing
- Admissions Coordinator
- Housekeeping Coordinator
- Dining Coordinator
- Nursing Staff–which may include registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, clinical nursing assistants and personal care technicians
- Housekeeping Staff
- Custodial Staff
- Dining Staff
- Administrative Staff
You should be aware that the level of expertise for assisted living employees, and the total number of caregivers, vary considerably from one facility to another. Be sure to ask questions before committing to a contract.
Note that having a registered nurse–a highly trained medical professional– on staff is very desirable. However many facilities do not have one on staff.
Click here to find out more about what makes assisted living communities differ from one another in terms of staffing and services.
3. You Can Expect to Have a Fairly Pleasant Social Life
“Assisted living helps older adults be active and more social. Studies show that adults who are immobile; unable to drive or have trouble walking, become depressed due to isolation.”
In assisted living, you will live among people with concerns similar to yours, which is good of course. However, residents’ quality of life benefits from more planned and facilitated interactions than there are in many facilities.
In other words, there is more that can be done.
Judith M. Mitchel and Bryan J. Kemp, authors of a 2000 journal article on the quality of life in assisted living, say that assisted living managers should take steps to develop an inviting environment by hiring direct service staff with good interpersonal skills.
They also feel this sort of hiring practice would need to be mandated by policy to address such issues as employee training and the ratio of staff to resident beds.
The Mitchell and Kemp article was published 19 years ago, so it doesn’t reflect the most current status of the industry. However, more recent information, though not directly related to an academic study, does seem to agree with their findings.
4. You Can Get Some Kind of Medical Attention When Needed
Staffing numbers and qualifications are even more varied in this life-determining component of senior care than it is among the social and recreational staff.
In spite of this. assisted living is “not a medical model of senior living care,” even though services that are customized to residents’ specific needs are provided. These include emergency first aid, medication management, and pharmacy services.
According to AARP, “Nearly half of aging Americans in assisted living facilities have medical needs that exceed the kind of care these residences provide, and yet family and the residents themselves are not adequately warned of those limitations.”
This rather alarming information is exacerbated by the fact that how assisted living communities are regulated varies from state to state, even though they are regulated in all 50 states.
5. Assisted Living is Relatively Affordable
Compared to other senior living options, such as Continuous Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) assisted living communities are relatively affordable, though hardly cheap, at an average annual cost of $25,000-50,000.
Social security covers only a small portion of these costs; most comes out of the resident’s (or their family’s pockets.
It is not surprising that is more expensive in large cities, paralleling those where overall housing costs and cost of living are higher.
A web article titled “Can I Afford Senior Housing” makes the case that for many, once current and future homeowner expenses are accounted for, assisted living turns out to be more affordable then they might have thought.
This consideration is certainly not inconsequential. especially when weighed against the prospect of a senior with limited physical and possibly mental capacities having to “go it alone”–when such a thing is possible at all.
How Will You Check out the Options?
Are you still asking yourself the question, “Do I need an assisted living community?” If so, look into this topic in depth.
It is difficult if not impossible to go back on a decision to go to (or send a loved one to) an assisted living community. Make sure your choice is a sound one, that you have chosen a community that will meet your needs for the duration of the stay.
“The key message is to do your research when you are looking at assisted living options. Don’t just take the most attractive home,” says Matthew K. McNabney, M.D., a geriatrician at Johns Hopkins, in an article for the AARP (linked above).
He says further, to ask about the staffing and employee credentials. “Ask how the facility manages complex medical needs and how will they handle these needs as the resident grows frailer and sicker.”
Don’t hesitate to consult with professionals in the medical, legal, and financial communities, either. The money you pay for these services will be worth it.
In addition to the sources incorporated above, here is an assisted living community guide that allows searching by U.S. ZIP code.
Go visit the communities you find or, if you can’t, send someone you trust to visit and scrutinize them for you.