What You Need to Know About… Assisted Living
You recently took an assessment to determine the level of care you or a loved one may need from a senior living community. Your test results show that you or your loved one qualify for assisted living care. This report will go into some detail as to just what that phrase assisted living means, what it means for you, and what you should be looking for in any senior living community in your immediate future.
What Does the Label Assisted Living Mean?
Assisted living, at first, may seem self-explanatory, but each individual brings their own definition to it. On the face of it, it means you or your loved one need some assistance with daily activities and personal care. More complexly, it can mean simple tasks like bathing, dressing, or cooking are currently beyond physical capabilities AND it can also mean that you have a bit of trouble getting up and down, in and out of a chair, or in and out of bed, but otherwise, you’re still fairly physically capable of most activities of daily life.
Communities that cater to folks in need of assisted living work with them to provide them as much independence as they can, while still providing for the welfare and safety of all. Your personal living quarters will consist of a room or suite, either private or shared with a roommate or spouse. Your community will have gathering spaces and public places where you can meet with family and friends, take your meals, and participate in community activities.
All the while, the things you CAN’T do will be attended to by the staff of the community. From preparing and serving meals to cleaning your room and doing your laundry, to helping you with the tasks you can no longer perform for yourself, the staff will be there to assist you in every and any way you may need. In some instances, you may only need assistance for a short while, as you recover from a stroke, for example, or a fall. Short term assisted living communities exist for residents just like yourself.
What Does Assisted Living Mean for YOU?
The biggest change for most assisted living residents is going from a much larger personal space to a much smaller one. Many assisted living communities consist of single and double rooms, with one or two individuals in each. Some allow you to bring your own furnishings and decorations, as much as practically appropriate, to make the space more yours. Many residents also claim that they enjoy being social again, having given up many social activities due to their physical limitations.
All that means that what you give up in space, you gain in peer interaction. What you lose in privacy you get back in having a healthier, more active lifestyle. And because some tasks like meal preparation and housekeeping are done for you, you may find that your nutrition and overall health improve because of it.
Many are concerned that assisted living equates a nursing home, and in some communities, that may be the case, with many residents in need of great amounts of care. Some communities, however, provide that needed daily assistance but prefer residents to be somewhat able and mobile. Short term rehab or recovery communities almost always have physical requirements that must be met for both taking up residency there, and for leaving it behind. How closely each community resembles the nursing homes of your memory depends on the level of care needed by its residents, and the requirements it has placed on who it will, and will not, accept.
What Does Assisted Living Mean for Your Ideal Senior Living Community
Your first and foremost concern are those requirements, and the level and kinds of care offered by each community. There’s no good to come from falling in love with a place only to find out you’re too capable still to qualify for acceptance. And the opposite is just as heartbreaking – to discover that you aren’t capable enough can be disheartening and discouraging to your search.
Also, consider the quality of the facility and staff. Is the staff fully trained to give you the kind of care and assistance you need? Are the programs appropriate and interesting to you? Is the building itself a safe and comfortable place to live in? What about its surroundings? This will be your home, and your “people” for the foreseeable future.
What about security and safety? Most assisted living communities consider the safety and security of their residents as one of their highest concerns. The nature of most assisted living communities means locked or alarmed doors to the outside world, measures in place to prevent falls, and systems to ensure the safety and security of both staff and residents. Ask about things like falls, security measures, privacy measures (do bathroom doors lock? Locked wardrobes or drawers for valuables? Etc.) to make sure the community meets YOUR standards for safety and security.
Next, examine the living arrangements possible. Do you have to have a roommate? Do you want one? How about dining and meal arrangements? Is there a place to gather with family and friends, and adequate time allowed for doing so? How much privacy and private time is available? How important is that to you?
Your ideal assisted living community will meet all these needs and answer all these questions, and maybe even more.
What Assisted Living Means When Choosing the Right Senior Living Community for You
The biggest adjustment most seniors make when entering an assisted living facility is the lack of privacy, personal space, and personal freedom. Choosing a community that meets those three needs after meeting your physical needs for assistance is of utmost importance. Consider the things we mentioned in the previous section. Ask the right questions. You can NEVER ask too many questions when interviewing a community. And that’s exactly what you need to do – interview THEM. They are going to ask you a lot of questions. Fire your own set right back at them. Tours and meals and presentations meant to impress you don’t always get at the heart of what really matters. Don’t be afraid or too hurried to take the time to ask as many questions as you can, as you need, before making your decision. They see you as a future resident. You see them as a future HOME. You need your home to meet ALL your needs. Choose the community that comes the closest to, or even exceeds, your expectations and qualifications.