Assisted living is any housing or residence intended for individuals who need help with regular daily activities due to disability or age-related conditions. These people may not be able to live independently because of their unique circumstances, or they may simply decide that they prefer to have additional support and feel safer in assisted living. Assisted living can be referred to as a facility, a community, or a residence, but the purpose is the same. These communities have staff and resources available to support residents in their daily living needs. Common services provided include assistance with bathing, meals, dressing, housekeeping, transportation, medication scheduling and administration, socializing, and activities. They also provide 24-hour community supervision. Assisted living communities have recently become one of the most sought after long-term care options for seniors, in part because the services provided are attractive to those who need help but still want to keep a certain level of independence.

 

Senior Care Options

Most people have heard of assisted living, nursing homes, and independent living. But it’s typically not until the personal need to explore those options arises that most people begin to fully understand the differences. The main difference between assisted living and nursing homes is in the care that is provided. Nursing homes will be best suited for those with medical conditions that require round-the-clock skilled nursing care. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an independent living community generally will not provide 24-hour staff or support and is intended for individuals who can live independently but want to have a sense of community. By assessing all senior care options, you will be better equipped to begin searching for the best community for your unique situation.

 

Who Lives in Assisted Living?

Knowing when it’s time to move into an assisted living community will depend on the individual’s needs. Over a third of seniors in an assisted living community need help with three or more daily living activities. Activities in that category include any form of self-care needed on a daily basis, and they are used to gauge someone’s functional ability and care needs. From a demographic perspective, the average age of residents is 87, and 74% are female. The most common health conditions that initiate a need for assisted living are high blood pressure and Alzheimer’s disease. Seniors in an assisted living community have an average stay of 36 months, many of those moving on to nursing homes as their needs progress.

 

Different Types of Assisted Living

Assisted living facilities can be categorized according to the level of care that they provide. Based on state requirements for assisted living, there are two levels of care any given facility can fall under in Arkansas. Level one provides assistance with activities of daily living, offering residents reminders and general assistance with certain daily activities, but allowing full independence in others. Level two facilities provide nursing care. The facility must employ or contract with at least one RN and employ or contract with LPNs to provide nursing or direct care services to residents. 

 

Services Offered in Assisted Living

While the different assisted living care levels correspond to degree of care offered, policies and procedures of specific assisted living communities will determine the services provided to each individual based on their assisted living resident agreement. Common services provided in assisted living communities include help with:

  • Bathing

  • Meals

  • Dressing

  • Housekeeping

  • Transportation

  • 24-hour community supervision

  • Educational, health, and recreational activities

  • Medication assistance

  • Scheduled opportunities for socialization

Rights of Residents

Within an assisted living resident agreement, there will be procedures outlined for complaints, concerns, and grievances. This ensures that residents and their families have a means of being heard and even for making an appeal through the appropriate channel. Residents and their families should also be aware of the right to report elder neglect to outside authorities, such as the local elder abuse hotline. Outlined resident’s rights should include:

  • Treating residents with dignity and respect

  • Retaining control of personal possessions and finances

  • Right to privacy

  • Freedom to communicate

  • Freedom from neglect or abuse

  • Right to medical or health related information on services rendered

 

Assisted Living Costs

Prices for assisted living facilities will vary based on several factors, including location, level of services provided, occupancy, size, and type of residence. Oftentimes, there will be a base rate of service and added fees for additional services. Senior assisted living costs can be charged on a month-to-month basis, but oftentimes, a long-term arrangement can be made as well. The national average for assisted living costs for a one-bedroom unit is $3,628 per month. Keep in mind, some states will be higher and some lower. For example, a one-bedroom unit at our Peachtree Village of Fort Smith, Arkansas is around $2,700 per month.

 

Choosing the Right Assisted Living Community

Once you’ve established that assisted living is the right senior care option for you or your loved one, you’ll want to determine how to evaluate individual assisted living facilities. You can do this by educating yourself on the basics of assisted living and understanding what to look for in a community. Once you’ve established a basic overview of assisted living, you can begin doing a simple Google search for terms such as, “best assisted living facilities near me” or the like. Take note of online reputation and reviews, then fully dive into websites and social media accounts. Look to see if the community you are researching seems open and transparent on their website and on social media. An open and transparent company will be more than willing to show who they are and answer all your questions. Pictures, floor plans, sample menus, and prices should be readily available. If you need help searching online, get the help of a family member, church member, case worker, or social worker.

 

Once you’ve narrowed down a list of assisted living communities you are interested in, start scheduling appointments to visit each one, and bring a list of questions to ask. The kinds of questions you may want to ask are: What does a typical day look like for a resident? What services are included in the base rate? What isn’t included? How do we determine what services will be needed? Is the community licensed?  While on a facility tour, you’ll want to get a feel for the people and community and whether or not it will be the right fit. Each community has its own personality, so find one that you feel comfortable in. Just like any other major life decision, the move to an assisted living home should be a thoughtful and careful one. By becoming empowered with information, you can rest assured that you are picking the right new home for you or your loved one.

 

References:

Anderson, J. (2016, July 7). Who Really Lives at Assisted Living? Retrieved from www.assistedliving.com

 

 

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