05 March 2013

7 Things You Might Not Know About Assisted Living Facilities

You may not yet be familiar with what assisted living is, or how it differs from other forms of senior communities. Read on to learn.

Assisted living communities are the result of senior care designers and professionals seeking to liven up the institutional feeling common to traditional nursing homes. Their brainchild, the "assisted living community" was born about 30 years ago.

The Assisted Living Federation of America defines assisted living as a long-term care option that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed. Assisted living is designed for individuals who require assistance with everyday activities such as meals, medication management or assistance, bathing, dressing and transportation. Some residents may have memory disorders including Alzheimer's, or they may need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Residents are assessed upon move in, or any time there is a change in condition. The assessment is used to develop an Individualized Service Plan.

Here are some facts about the assisted living experience that may be new to you:

1. Each community provides varying levels of care - because there is no nationwide definition of assisted living (though it is regulated in all 50 states), senior living communities that call themselves assisted living can offer different levels of caregiving. One factor that affects the level of care given to residents is facility licensing; a higher degree of licensing indicates the ability to provide more care. Find out about specific facilities and their accommodations here.

2. Each community has its own distinct personality - just as no two people are alike, the same can be said of assisted living facilities. There are large complexes in the suburbs, high-rise apartment buildings in the city, and even small cottages surrounded by nature. Browse the array of senior living designs on display in the ALFA 2012 Senior Living by Design Awards. Most assisted living is licensed to provide care for at least 20 people, though many communities are larger in scale with closer to 100 residents.

3. Pets are seen as therapeutic, not bothersome - though specific policies on pets differs from community to community, almost all assisted living facilities recognize the benefits of your loved one having a furry friend to love and look after. Do your research: are there weight/size requirements; is there a pet deposit; are there breed restrictions; what types of animals are unwelcome? And if your loved one happens be allergic to certain animals, be sure to inform the potential assisted living facility.

4. Assisted living costs are high, but there are ways to reduce overall costs - according to a 2012 senior care survey, the national average rate for a one-bedroom apartment is about $3,300/month. This is not cheap, but 41 states do offer home and community-based waivers that allow low-income residents to live in assisted living communities. Also, seniors can purchase long-term care insurance to help plan for financing their long-term care needs. (Read about the pros and cons of long term care insurance.) Veterans and their spouses may be eligible for VA benefits that can offset the cost of senior care. Seniors with low income and few assets might need to use Medicaid to pay for care - more information can be obtained at www.eldercare.gov.

5. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities do not offer the same care - when deciding what type of care is best for your loved one, trust the guidance and knowledge of a medical professional. Here are some basic guidelines to help inform your decision:
  • Assisted living residents are mainly independent but need help with daily living personal care tasks like bathing or dressing. Nursing home residents require 24-hour assistance with all aspects of daily living.
  • Nursing homes generally offer single or semi-private rooms, while assisted living communities generally offer studios or one-bedroom apartments.
  • Assisted living residents are mobile. Nursing home residents are bed-ridden.
  • Nursing home residents require skilled nursing attention on a daily basis, while assisted living residents do not require ongoing medical attention.

 6. There are diverse options now available - a growing number of assisted living communities are specially designed to meet cultural, religious, dietary, and language needs of its residents. Because America is a land of diversity, we can expect to see an ever-increasing demand for niche senior living communities. Read about the benefits of these specialized facilities.

7. Assisted living facilities offer Alzheimer's and dementia care - many assisted living communities offer dedicated memory care programs for residents that are designed to decrease symptoms like wandering and agitation, and generally improve quality of life. Seniors with early stage Alzheimer's or dementia should be able to live amongst the general population of the facility; however, when the condition becomes advanced residents are transferred to what is commonly known as a "memory care area". Memory care is a secured area that is designed to protect residents, where the staff are specially trained to care for those with dementia and Alzheimer's. General information about memory care can be found here.


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  2. What an awesome article. I have been looking for information on assisted living facilities in Ohio for a while now. I have been "iffy" about actually sending my grandmother to one. However, you make them sound so great. Thanks so much for this fun information.

  3. Great post and very helpful information. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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  4. Really its a great post. Assisted Living is one the good option to live like your home, where you can get all the facilities like personal care, nursing and many more. Thanks for sharing this information.

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  5. Thank you for sharing. I found this post to be very informative and helpful. After reading it I able to choose an Alzheimers Assisted Living in Boston MA for my grandfather who suffers from the disease.

  6. I had no idea there was a difference between the assisted living senior care and other places like retirement homes.

  7. These are great points. My grandparents are reaching the point where they need to more supervised than they are. We are all worried about them. We want them to be safe and comfortable. These are some things that I will probably bring to their attention. We have been looking at assisted living centers in Tacoma, WA but haven't been able to make them seem like the right choice. I don't think they knew that pets can be a good thing there and that the level of care differs so they can still feel like they are home. Thank you!

  8. This is some great information. We are looking into elderly personal care in Lima, NY for my grandparents, but I wanted to do a lot of research on what to look for before we picked a place. Thank you for the information.

  9. Choosing the right Assisted Living Community
    is important.The place should meet the personal needs of seniors, provide them with amenities of their choice and also keep them engaged with social activities.

  10. I've been researching senior living options for my grandma who is still pretty independent, but may begin to need help soon. Unfortunately I don't live close enough to take care of her full time. It looks like there are lots of different options to choose from. Sometimes there is a stigma associated with senior living homes, but it looks like they can truly be a happy place to live.
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  11. Great post...Such type of communities play an important role and offer seniors the chance to build up new friendships, social and cultural activities and it’s good to hear that 94% of assisted living residents are happy with the assisted living facilities.
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  12. We think it's time to put our grandma in an assisted living home. I'm scared she is going to be stubborn about it but I think she would actually really enjoy it. She loves talking to people so I think she'll make a lot of new friends. Who wouldn't want to live in a home, get taken care of, and have activities planned for you all the time.


  13. Thank you for posting this. Now that I've actually had to look into assisted living for my grandparents this was really helpful. To be honest I had no idea that there were varying levels of care when it came to assisted living.

  14. I was so surprised at the diversity of the assisted living facilities when I was looking at them with my grandma. She wanted very specific criteria, but even when narrowed down it seemed like there were dozens available to us. Granted she lives in a larger city area, but it is good to know there is so much specialized care for anyone who needs assisted living.


  15. Knowing that different assisted living places don't have the same care as others. I guess that would make it easier to choose which service you are comfortable with. I know when we took my grandmother in, She was able to move around the facility whenever she wanted. I thought for the most part nursing homes were the same. I guess knowing what the person needs will help you determine where assisted living was better than a nursing home.

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  16. My family recently moved my grandfather who was in poor health to an assisted living facility during this past year. I will be honest I have been very impressed with the quality of care they have given to him, as well as to us as his family. It is always good to know those we care about remain in a position we feel is secure! Thanks for this post! http://comforcare.com/illinois/park-ridge

  17. My parents have been looking into moving into an assisted living facility. They are worried about costs and the area they would live in, but most of all they are afraid they won't be able to keep their lap dog. To help them out, I have been doing some research on the facilities and this one proved helpful when answering their questions. They are happy to hear that they will be able to keep their dog.

  18. I read a lot of interesting articles here. Probably you spend a lot of time writing. Informative post about assisted living. Thanks for sharing with us!!

  19. My husband's grandfather was in an assisted living home after he had a heart attack and fell. It was a rough time for our family and it was really scary. I just remember before he passed away how happy he was that he had made so many new friends and had such a great last year of life. http://www.diamondwillowassistedliving.com/overview/

  20. As we're preparing to put my dad into an assisted living facility, I'm relieved to hear that pets are typically welcome. Since my work schedule will make daily visits unfeasible, he sure is going to need the consistency of his dog. I also like what you said about each community having it's own dynamics! We will be keeping that in the forefront of our minds as we continue to research locations.

  21. We've been struggling trying to get my grandparents to move to a assisted living community. They're both very old, and they're to the point where they need to be a community that is more tailored to their needs. I'll have to keep in mind that there are differences between all the communities when looking at place.

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  22. I thought assisted living places were very black and white. Like they are all the same. But when I was looking into assisted living for my mom, turns out they are all really different, each with their pros and cons.


  23. I really like how assisted living communities are so much more fun and lively than retirement homes. It helps everyone in them feel like they are still functional. My mother might need one of these soon.


  24. I had no idea that each community could be so different. This is really good because it means that those who are dependent can have a lot of choices when it comes to their living style. I should show this to my grandmother since she is planning to move to an assisted living facility soon. http://www.rivervalleyslf.com