What is Assisted Living?
As your loved one ages, you may be considering the options for his for hers senior care. Perhaps they are still in relatively good health and enjoy independence, but are beginning to struggle with certain activities of daily living (ADLs). For example, you may notice their pantry or refrigerator is more often bare than not, or stacks of bills are piling up. Perhaps you are worried about them taking their medication correctly or getting in and out of bed. ADLs can be as simple as needing help getting dressed, to more serious, like needing help feeding oneself.
For more than 735,000 people in the United States, an assisted living facility is the solution. Assisted living can be a great choice for seniors who cannot (or even prefer not to) move in full-time with loved ones, but do need some regular assistance with ADLs. Or perhaps they are already living with family, but their needs are beginning to change and require more assistance than a family or friend can provide as caregiver.
Assisted living facilities offer independence along with available assistance (some 24 hours a day) and are geared toward active, mostly healthy seniors. These facilities offer private or semi-private, apartment-like settings and even allow for seniors to bring their own personal items and furniture to customize their apartment.
Services at an assisted living facility typically include:
- Medication management
- Two or three meals served in a central dining room
- Regular wellness activities
- Religious services
- Social activities and excursions
- Coordination with the senior’s physician
- Utilities (excluding telephone and cable TV)
- Assistance with activities of daily living
On the spectrum of senior living, assisted living offers more hands-on senior care than independent living communities, but less than a medically staffed nursing home. Some senior living facilities do offer a range of housing options, ranging from independent apartments to rehab units to full skilled nursing, allowing residents to move back and forth as needed within the same facility as their needs change. These continuing-care retirement communities (CCRCs) can be especially helpful for married couples, if one individual needs more care than the other at any given time.
There are no national regulations on assisted living facilities; rather, they are governed at the state level so it’s important to investigate licensing in your state, and in potential assisted living facilities. And while regular health insurance and Medicaid do not pay for assisted living, a senior may be eligible for financial assistance through the state Medicaid Waiver Program if he or she is over 65, blind or disabled, and meets the state program guidelines (including the person being below a certain median income level). The Veterans Aid and Attendance benefit can also help veterans and surviving spouses pay for assisted living senior care.
Researching, visiting, and moving to the right assisted living facility can be a weight lifted off everyone’s shoulders. Seniors no longer have to worry about the chores and health hazards they most likely worried about while living alone, and their children and friends can rest a bit easier knowing that help will always be readily available of the senior needs it. Assisted living can, when done properly, help a senior enjoy his or her golden years more thoroughly, introducing them to a new set of like-minded peers, and ensuring that a helping hand is always there when a need arises.