Assisted Living: Understanding a Difficult Decision

Assisted Living facilities are meant for senior citizens and the disabled who require housing, and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, and assistance with taking medicine. These facilities enable people to follow an independent lifestyle and at the same time provide the right type of assistance needed in day-to-day activities. Occupants of Assisted Living Facilities are generally unable to live independently but are also not in need of full-time care. Thus, an Assisted Living Facility offers an alternative to nursing homes that are more suitable for senior citizens with a greater need for care.

Assisted living facilities are sometimes referred to as residential care, personal care, adult congregate living care, domiciliary care, retirement residences, adult homes, etc. Assisted living facilities often operate in conjunction with nursing homes and independent living residences. Together, the three constitute Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Thus, an individual can start by shifting into an independent living residence and move on to assisted living facilities or a nursing home depending upon his requirements as he ages.

Housing facilities can be private single rooms or private suites. Assisted Living Residences often have ensuite bathrooms and common dining facilities. The occupant and housing facility are expected to enter into a written occupancy agreement. Assisted living facilities can provide housekeeping, meal services, laundry, and round-the-clock emergency services.

The personal assistance provided at assisted living facilities ensure that the dignity and self-respect of the occupants are upheld and that they get ample opportunities to socialize, make friends, and also keep in touch with their family. The assistance can be either routine or intensive. The personal assistants are trained to be mindful of the requirements and values of senior citizen. They usually hold a college home support/resident care aide certificate or have the required balance of experience and learning. Personal assistants may operate under the supervision of professionals such as registered nurses.

The key points to be borne in mind while selecting an assisted living facility should include :

-    Atmosphere – This would include the size of the facility, visiting hours, opportunities for socialization, and meal-related information.

-    Activities – Factors such as flexibility of schedule, presence of lounge areas, and chance of interacting with neighboring communities should be considered.

-    Amenities – Presence of exercise facilities, availability of equipment for supporting patients with special needs, religious facilities, and storage space are the amenities that should be present.

-    Costs – Costs of staying at the facility, rate at which expenses fluctuate, as well as services and utilities included in the costs are some of the features that should be considered while checking out the costs.

A facility should be visited and the opinions of staff and residents should be taken into consideration. In order to get a complete picture, the facility should be visited on multiple occasions at different times of the day over a period of time.