You’ve probably heard the term assisted living. But what, exactly, is assisted living? The short answer is that assisted living gives seniors who want assistance a place to thrive and grow while receiving individualized care services.
Although people sometimes confuse assisted living with nursing homes because they’re both residential options for older adults who need support, they are distinctly different. Designed with long-term care in mind, assisted living communities are residential, often apartment-style homes complete with kitchens or kitchenettes, laundry facilities, activities, dining programs and much more. For many seniors, assisted living is the best of both worlds, providing them with a home-like experience that leaves them free of a private home’s upkeep, yet independent and still part of a community.
Studies have concluded that assisted living communities can be crucial in improving the quality of life (QOL) for seniors. One study measured QOL using incidents of depression, life satisfaction and facility satisfaction. Findings suggest that assisted living communities can improve resident QOL by creating a cohesive social environment and encouraging social participation and family involvement.
Another term you may hear is continuum of care. In broad strokes, the continuum ranges from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing care.
- Independent living is for older adults who need little to no support in their daily lives. They enjoy services and amenities that free them from the maintenance required in a private home, make life more convenient and enriching, but don’t require assistive services.
- Assisted living provides help with cooking, cleaning the house and other daily chores or a reminder to take their medication in a community setting. It doesn’t offer full-time medical care.
- Skilled nursing, or what may be referred to as a nursing home, is a more advanced level of care for people who need full-time healthcare or therapy services and support for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).
Who should consider assisted living?
One of the determining factors for whether assisted living is needed is considering a person’s ability to complete ADLs. The main ADLs include:
- Personal hygiene and grooming.
- Dressing and undressing.
- Movement and mobility.
- Toileting: continence-related tasks, including control and hygiene.
- Eating: preparing food and feeding
If you or your loved one struggles with one or more ADLs, it may be a signal to begin the process of reviewing options for assisted living.
What does assisted living include?
The services and amenities vary by community, but generally include:
- Assistance with activities of daily living
- Dining programs
- Social activities and events
When is it time to consider assisted living?
For seniors and their families, the thought of moving from their beloved home is agonizing, while others look forward to a life with fewer maintenance responsibilities. For many adult children, the decision to move their parents is based on realizing that they may need a little extra help and would benefit from a wide array of individualized services and new social outlets to combat the isolation they experience living at home alone.
Moving to an assisted living community does not mean a loss of independence. Quite the contrary, it’s a place that can maximize a senior’s freedom within a community. If you answer yes to three or more questions on the checklist below, it may be time to consider assisted living:
- Is completing housework, yard work and home repairs a struggle?
- Is showering, bathing and dressing regularly without help a concern?
- Is mobility or balance a problem? Have there been increased incidents of falling?
- Are bills not being paid?
- Is scheduling and getting to regular medical appointments on time a problem?
- Are medications not being taken when they should be?
- Is preparing proper nutritious meals a problem?
- Is it challenging to maintain a healthy weight and get some form of regular exercise?
- Do you worry about your loved one’s safety when they are alone? Do you worry if you can’t reach them by phone?
- Is it difficult to maintain a social life?
- Is isolation a concern?
- Are there vision issues or physical limitations?
What’s life like in an assisted living community?
Again, the answer will depend on the specific community. Like the neighborhood you or your loved one lives in now, each of the six assisted living communities at Providence Life Services has a unique feel because, like any community, it’s about the people.
At a Providence Life assisted community, residents are free to set their schedules in the privacy of their apartment or townhome. They can spend the day however they like from taking a stroll in the community, feasting on restaurant-style meals or preparing food in their kitchen, visiting with friends or enjoying one of the many events offered.
If you’re interested in scheduling a tour or learning more, let us know.