Like many issues related to aging, assisted living is a topic most people don’t pay much attention to until they need it. Then finding the answers to all of the questions that typically come up may feel overwhelming. As we head in to the time of year when families are more likely to be visiting older loved ones, we thought we would share a few pointers on what assisted living is and also what it is not.
1. Not all assisted living communities are created equal. Don’t assume if you’ve visited one community that you know assisted living. Each community is different. They all have their own philosophy of care and standards. That is why we always recommend families visit at least two or three assisted living communities before making any decisions. Quality senior living providers will welcome and encourage family visits.
2. Assisted living enriches life. For older adults, assisted living communities offer great opportunities for life enrichment. Having neighbors of a similar age and with common interests can help a senior who has been lonely at home overcome depression. Strong activities programs, special events and community outings allow older adults to stay active and engaged in life on their own terms.
3. They are an affordable senior living option. Pricing structures vary at every community, but most offer good value for the money, especially when you consider that meals, laundry, housekeeping and wellness programs are included in the basic fee.
4. Fido is usually welcome! Sometimes seniors won’t leave their homes because they think their longtime furry companion won’t be welcome in assisted living. However, if Fido is small and well-behaved and your loved one is able to care for him, he is probably welcome to make the move!
5. Assisted living is different than a nursing home. Put aside all of those old-fashioned fears about nursing homes. An assisted living community is much different. From the resident friendly environment to the active programming, assisted living offers seniors the independence they want with extra help available as needed. Assisted living communities look and feel like a private home, not a medical center.
6. They are licensed and regulated by the state. Assisted living is a regulated industry. Each state determines and enforces its own laws. In most states, the Department of Health has oversight for assisted living.
7. You can bring your own furniture. This can be another sticking point for older adults. They don’t want to move because they don’t want to give up their belongings. It may be an antique dresser that belonged to a loved one or a favorite recliner they like to sit in to watch Jeopardy every night that they want to bring with them. The good news is that most assisted living communities allow seniors to bring some of their furniture from home.