What You Need to Know About Assisted Living
Assisted living is a type of long-term care community where older adults live independently in their own rooms or apartments while receiving assistance in areas they need. Assisted living communities offer different amenities, environments, and extra services, but all provide personal care assistance, health monitoring, and meals. Most include housekeeping, laundry, security, social and recreational activities, transportation, and more.
Assisted living communities provide many benefits for seniors, like 24/7 staff for emergency care services and security, a social community environment, the ability to retain a certain level of independence, and hassle-free living due to a lack of chores and responsibilities.
To qualify for assisted living, seniors must need help with activities of daily living or ADLs (e.g., bathing, dressing, grooming, making meals, etc.), be able to move around on their own, and not require extensive medical care.
Definition of Assisted Living
Assisted living is a type of long-term care option for seniors who can live independently with assistance completing some activities of daily living (ADLs), but who do not need not round-the-clock medical attention.
Residents in an assisted living facility pay monthly fees for a private apartment or room. At the minimum, these residences have 24-hour on-site staff and security, prepare three meals a day, and provide personal care services. Common assisted living services like transportation and housekeeping are often included with the monthly rent, but some tailored care options and amenities may be available for additional charges.
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What Does Assisted Living Provide?
Assisted living allows seniors to live a more carefree lifestyle since they don't have to worry about doing household chores and maintaining their homes and yard. In addition, they also receive personal care assistance, round-the-clock security, and opportunities to participate in various activities and events.
Below are some of the most common assisted living services:
- Assistance with activities of daily living
- Housekeeping and maintenance
- Dining programs (three daily meals)
- Simple health services and medication administration
- Exercise and fitness activities
- Emergency call systems
- Social services and religious activities
- Recreational activities
- Wellness programs
- 27-hour security
- Transportation arrangements
Some assisted living communities have contracts with home health agencies for skilled nursing services and hospice facilities for hospice services.
What Are Activities of Daily Living?
Activities of Daily Living or ADLs are essential and routine self-care activities that often become more challenging with age. They include:
- Feeding: The ability to feed one's self.
- Dressing: The ability to select clothes and put them on.
- Personal hygiene: The ability to bathe and adequately manage one's appearance.
- Toileting: The ability to get to or from the toilet, use it properly, and clean oneself.
- Continence: The ability to control one's bladder and bowel function.
- Ambulating: The ability to move around the house or outside.
When completing ADLs independently becomes difficult, it can lead to health and safety hazards. Staff at assisted living communities are available 24 hours a day to help residents with their ADLs or other emergency care as needed.
Benefits of Assisted Living
If you or a loved one is considering moving to an assisted living community, here are some of the top benefits you can look forward to:
Assisted living facilities promote independence for seniors, as residents have their own living spaces and are able to only utilize personal care services when needed. Residents can choose when to participate in the community’s planned events, which amenities to use, which activities and social groups to join, and generally spend their days as they please, while ALFs help as needed according to their care plan.
Provides Peace of Mind
With safety features like medical alert systems, security cameras, and around-the-clock staff, seniors can rest easy knowing they are safe and will be given help when needed. Friends and family also have peace of mind with the knowledge that their loved ones are safe and well taken care of.
Prevents Social Isolation and Loneliness
Seniors living alone are vulnerable to feeling isolated, lonely, and depressed. In assisted living, seniors can socialize with neighbors and friends in communal areas and participate in social activities like book clubs, movie nights, art classes, game nights, and more. Seniors can make new friends and feel connected to a community of people in the same life stage.
Enables More Free Time
Household chores, yard work, and other household maintenance tasks are burdens to seniors living at home. Assisted living residents don't have to worry about the physically-demanding and time-consuming work associated with home ownership. Instead, they have more freedom to learn a new hobby, become more active, and build and cultivate relationships.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?
According to Genworth's Cost of Care Survey in 2021, the U.S. national average cost of assisted living is $4,500 per month, or $54,000 annually.
Like many expenses, assisted living costs vary based on location. For instance, residents in one of the least expensive states, Mississippi, will pay an average of $3,500 monthly for assisted living. Meanwhile, seniors in California have to pay $5,250 per month for assisted living.
Other factors that influence assisted living costs include the level of care required, the size of the residence, and the type of hospitality services and amenities provided. The overall price will also increase if a resident needs advanced medical care (e.g., memory care).
How Is Assisted Living Different From a Nursing Home?
Nursing homes, also known as skilled nursing facilities, are dedicated facilities where residents receive round-the-clock care from skilled professionals, including medical and non-medical services. Residents in a nursing home typically require more extensive medical attention and frequent specialist care, and they live in single or semi-private rooms.
Meanwhile, assisted living promotes independence with a home-like setting for seniors who need assistance with activities of daily living. Unlike nursing homes, assisted living facilities have private living quarters for residents, ranging from a basic studio or room to a one- or two-bedroom apartment. Additionally, assisted living communities are not considered medical facilities and are thus not covered by Medicare, while Medicare will pay for some nursing home care.
Who Is Eligible for Assisted Living?
In general, assisted living applicants must be able to live independently but require some assistance with basic daily tasks like dressing and bathing. In addition, applicants must have functional mobility (i.e., they can walk or use a wheelchair/scooter without assistance) and cannot require ongoing medical care.
What Is Life Like In An Assisted Living Community?
Living in an assisted living community offers more independence and freedom for seniors than what many may think of when they imagine senior living facilities. Besides meals and other scheduled activities, community members are free to do whatever they please with their time. Therefore, an assisted living facility's day-to-day life isn't strictly organized or controlled. For example, seniors can go to bed anytime, wake up whenever they want, and plan their day based on which events and activities interest them.
Since staff members and security personnel are always present to assist residents, there's always someone you can count on to help when needed. Depending on the resident's care plan, a staff member or care associate may be the first person they'll see in the morning to help with daily basic activities like bathing, eating, dressing, grooming, and ambulating. After that, seniors can decide how to spend their time, and there are no schedules to keep.
Ultimately, assisted living should feel like home, albeit with less responsibility and more help available at all times.
What To Consider When Choosing An Assisted Living Facility
Below are the primary factors to consider when choosing an assisted living facility:
- Location: Many older adults prefer to stay in a facility located in the community where they live so they're closer to family and friends. Sometimes family members want their loved ones to stay in a nearby assisted living community so they can visit easily.
- Size: According to the National Center for Assisted Living, the average size of assisted living communities in the U.S. is 33 licensed beds. These senior communities vary in size, from small facilities with four to ten beds to extra-large ALFs with more than 100 beds. Facility size can affect the care quality, amenities, and services provided.
- Cost: The cost of assisted living and how you intend to pay for it are major factors to consider. Therefore, set a budget since it may dictate the location (some states are less expensive), size, and services you'll receive.
- Services and amenities: Determine the amenities and services you or your loved one needs. Assisted living communities typically provide housekeeping, dining, simple health services, and exercise programs. Some tailored services may be available for added charges.
If you need help finding an assisted living community for yourself or a loved one, SeniorHomes can help. Call 1-800-748-4024 to connect with an advisor who can guide you on your search, free of charge.
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