What is Assisted Living?
The number of adults aged 65 and older in the U.S. is unprecedented and it’s expected to continue growing in the future. One way that this growing population is changing the face of the country is through the demand for assisted living services. Baby Boomers are becoming senior citizens, and seniors are living longer, too.
As they reach their golden years, not all seniors will be able to live out their lives safely in their own homes. At the same time, many won’t require the in-depth care provided at a nursing home. Assisted living fills the gap in care by providing the degree of help the individual needs.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Assisted Living?
Assisted living includes housing, personal care services, and medical care. Facilities that provide this type of care are often designed to look “homey”, without the feel of an institutional setting like many nursing homes. The facilities might include individual rooms, apartments, or common quarters shared by residents.
Some, but not all, assisted living facilities are appropriate for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia. Those with settings that facilitate familiarity make it easier for these seniors to maneuver. Feeling at home is important for any elderly person and it helps improve their quality of life.
The level of assistance varies from person to person. For those people with conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia, the level of assistance needed increases as their condition progresses. Each resident benefits from an individualized care plan that is right for their current needs. The best assisted living facility offers services for seniors at every level and can cater to those with special needs. A good assisted living facility fits the care to the resident instead of placing them into a specific category that doesn’t address their specific needs.
- 24-hour care by trained, experienced caregivers
- Assistance with bathing, dressing, and personal hygiene
- Home-cooked, nutritious meals
- Accommodation for special diets
- Daily activities and exercise
- Travel arrangements
- Housekeeping and laundry services
- 24-hour care and supervision
- Safety monitoring
- Medication management
- Night-time care
- Continence management
- Support and recovery after hospitalization and rehab
- Assistance coordinating with physicians
Seniors with serious physical conditions or disabilities often require a greater level of care. Those with vision or balance problems or a loss of mobility might require help with everything they do. Their individual needs depend on the degree of their limitations.
People with Alzheimer’s and dementia progress through various stages of the disease. During the early stages, their symptoms might be barely noticeable, if at all. Many people in the early stages of dementia plan their own care ahead of time. They make decisions that are right for their care and which will also make things easier for their loved ones.
As dementia advances, the person will gradually require help with everything including bathing, getting dressed, and eating. Some dementia patients become withdrawn, while others become more aggressive and act out. They might become care-resistant and combatant. It’s important for them to have experienced caregivers available 24/7 to keep them healthy and safe.
Depending on the dementia patient's needs, they might require minimal, moderate, or advanced care. Throughout these stages, memory care can help slow the progress of memory loss and maximize their quality of life.
Preparing Your Loved One for Assisted Living
When a person makes their own decision about their living situation, it’s easier for everyone. Too often, adult children end up making the decision against their parent’s wishes. A power of attorney is a legal document that some people create which allows someone to make decisions for them if they become unable to make them on their own. If your loved one names you as their power of attorney, it doesn’t mean you have the legal right to decide everything for them unless they are declared mentally incompetent. You should contact an attorney to learn about the laws in your state and whether you must apply for guardianship.
It isn’t unusual for people to feel guilty about moving their loved ones out of their homes. It’s important to realize that this is often the best choice for your loved one’s situation. Being a caregiver isn’t easy; or even possible for some families. Few people have the financial resources or the ability to take time away from their other responsibilities to provide full-time care to a loved one.
Casual caregivers also lack the special training needed to provide the same services as a professional. Having an entire staff like those in a dedicated assisted living facility ensures elderly residents have the level of personal and medical care they need round the clock.
The best approach is to talk with your loved one about moving to an assisted living facility. Consider working with them to create a list of pros and cons. Once they think about the advantages of making the move, they may be open to the idea. Especially if they realize how much easier it will make things on their loved ones.
Some of the advantages of assisted living include:
Maintaining an Independent Life
Unlike a nursing home, assisted living is more like a home environment. The needed medical care is within easy reach but not inside their actual living space. The resident receives the care they need, along with a living arrangement that is flexible enough to meet their needs as they change. They still have the opportunities to engage in activities they enjoy, socialize with others their own age, and come and go as they please as long as they are physically and safely able.
No Need to Maintain a Home
Most seniors like the idea of staying in their own home. It represents independence and freedom. There are also many memories that they associate with their family homes. But all houses require maintenance, cleaning, repairing, and some ongoing financial investment. Is that something your loved one is capable of?
Talk with your loved one about the responsibilities of keeping their home. Explain that they can take many of their memories and keepsakes with them wherever they go. The best assisted living facility encourages interactions with family members. Moving to a new location doesn’t mean losing the belongings or the people that are most important to them.
Better Nutrition for Better All-Around Well-Being
Seniors have special needs when it comes to nutrition, including those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. They often require fewer calories due to a slower metabolism while needing more of some important nutrients. That means eating more nutritional foods at every meal.
Seniors often limit their meals to easy-to-fix foods like cereal, oatmeal, or yogurt. While some of these foods are a healthy part of a well-balanced meal, they aren’t enough on their own. In an assisted living facility, residents have access to three healthy meals each day. The variety of home-cooked meals offered gives them more variety so they'll want to eat more of the healthy foods they need. They never have to worry about not feeling well enough to cook.
Prevents Social Isolation
Seniors who live alone are at a greater risk of becoming socially isolated. Being alone can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression. In assisted living, there is a community environment with things for residents to do according to their capabilities. There are both familiar and new activities to engage in, so they feel like a part of the community and they never have to be alone.
Available Medical Care When You Need It
Every senior who moves into assisted living doesn’t require a great deal of assistance – at first. Initially, medication reminders or checking vitals might be enough. Seniors are prone to many medical conditions that might occur at any time. When their medical needs become more advanced, the level of medical care they need is already available. Medical care is close by whether it’s needed 1 hour a week or 24/7.
More Opportunities to Focus on Fun
Sometimes supervision is the most important factor to facilitate freedom for any senior. It isn’t just the daily activities they need help with. Sometimes a helping hand makes the difference in being able to enjoy new activities, go to new places, or just take an evening stroll with a friend. With fewer responsibilities, they have more free time to do the things they always thought about doing after retirement. It’s time to focus on the things that give them pleasure without the worries of everyday responsibilities.
Safe, Available Transportation
When to stop driving is another of those milestones that seniors eventually reach. Driving is another form of freedom that they don’t always give up willingly. Whether car ownership is no longer financially feasible or it’s just too much of a hassle, seniors might end up relying on a loved one, friend, or neighbor when they require transportation.
In assisted living, safe, reliable transportation is always available. If they need to run errands or go to doctors’ appointments, they don’t have to worry about fueling up the car. There’s no maintenance or worries about keeping up with their ever-increasing insurance.
An Investment in Their Future
Aging is an ongoing process for all of us. Although people age at different rates, we all slow down and lose flexibility and mobility. Seniors with chronic health conditions experience an even greater decline. In any case, most of these changes occur over time. That means an increase in personal and medical care as time passes, too. Assisted living promotes a healthy lifestyle for seniors, providing more options for the future should their need for a higher level of care change.
Another advantage is that caregivers who are familiar with the resident can recognize changes as they occur. Diagnosing conditions or noticing health changes allows for early interventions and the potential for better care.Better Peace of Mind for You
Assisted living goes a long way toward creating a better quality of life for your loved one. That’s your primary reason for considering moving your loved one into a facility. But it’s also to give you peace of mind that your loved one is getting the care they need. They’re in a home-like environment where their needs are met. For most seniors who move into assisted living, it’s an improvement in every area of their lifestyle.
Questions to Ask an Assisted Living Facility
Assisted living facilities vary in the levels of care they provide and the types of services and amenities they offer. Choosing the right one for your loved one is important for both their current care needs and those of their future. The following questions will help you learn more about any facility you talk to.
What is your full scope of services?
Ask about specific services like bathing and getting dressed, hygiene and grooming, eating, helping with laundry, and housekeeping. Make a list of needs before you start calling. Think about the specific needs you or your loved one has in every area. Consider things like having their prescriptions delivered and personal errands like going to their hairdresser.
Does your staff have the experience to provide Alzheimer’s or dementia care?
All assisted living facilities don’t offer special care for these patients. Even if your loved one is in the early stages of dementia now, they will progress to later stages, which require in-depth care. Make sure they will get the full extent of care in one setting where they are already comfortable.
Do your residents have privacy?
Ask if they have units for individuals, shared facilities, or both. Do the doors lock? Do they have private or shared bathrooms? What amenities are available?
What can they bring with them?
Can they bring their own furnishings? How many of their personal belongings can they bring with them? Having their personal possessions is very important to some seniors who want to feel at home.
What kinds of activities do you offer?
Ask about the different activities they lead on-site and those held around the neighborhood. Do they encourage outdoor activities like gardening or take field trips to local attractions? What role does the staff play in leading or introducing new activities?
Schedule a Tour at Bethany Homes
There’s no better way to learn about an assisted facility than by seeing it firsthand. Bethany Homes has more than 20 years of experience providing senior care that is secure and loving. Contact us to schedule a tour today and see how we make every effort to make your loved one feel at home.