We all want to ensure that the older adults in our family stay safe, healthy and happy. As a senior begins to require more assistance with their personal care or home maintenance, however, that becomes more challenging. Oftentimes the best solution is to help a loved one transition to an assisted living community. They’ll reap many benefits from making a move, such as improved nutrition, onsite caregivers, a safer environment and more opportunities to socialize.
But figuring out how and where to begin the search for a community can be confusing. As can comparing communities and making an informed decision. Families sometimes delay getting started because they feel so overwhelmed.
ASC created this Assisted Living Decision Toolkit to guide your family through the process. In this kit you will find information on financing assisted living, a checklist of questions to ask, a chart to help compare communities, a list of resources and an FAQ page.
Let’s begin by learning more about assisted living, including what it is and how it can improve a senior’s quality of life.
An assisted living community combines the best of two worlds. It is a housing option that empowers seniors to maintain their independence and privacy, while also offering round-the-clock assistance with care and everyday tasks.
These communities are designed for adults who require support with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, grooming or managing their medication schedule. Although staff are on-site 24 hours a day, the goal of an assisted living community is to keep residents as independent as possible.
Every assisted living community has a unique personality and offers different types of care, services and amenities. Some are more upscale and formal, while others have a casual, relaxed environment. Finding one that matches a loved one’s interests and comfort level will be important.
There is plenty of research to show that where you live during retirement has a significant impact on your health and quality of life. Here are some of the benefits that residents of assisted living communities enjoy, from nutrition and wellness activities to a supportive environment:
When grocery shopping and meal preparation start to feel like too much of a nuisance, a senior might skip meals or rely on convenience foods. It’s easy to understand their point of view. Preparing healthy meals for one or two people can be time-consuming and expensive. For seniors who have given up driving, making frequent trips to the grocery store for fresh fruits and vegetables often means asking a loved one for transportation. Assisted living communities have dining services that offer well-balanced meals and snacks. They can also accommodate most special diets, such as those for diabetics. As an added benefit, residents can enjoy companionship and socializing in the community dining room during mealtimes. No more eating at home alone unless a resident chooses to.
Isolation is a known health risk for seniors. It contributes to health conditions ranging from obesity and depression to high blood pressure and falls. Unfortunately, older adults are more likely than younger people to experience loneliness and isolation. Mobility challenges, vision loss and a lack of transportation can all contribute. When an older adult moves to an assisted living community, however, they have opportunities to join fellow residents in planned life enrichment activities, as well as informal gatherings. Both allow seniors to stay active and engaged with life. You’ll find everything from community gardening to woodworking groups to watercolor workshops, religious studies and book clubs.
Assisted living communities offer residents a wide range of wellness programs every day. You’ll find classes and programs designed to nurture the body, mind and spirit, from Pilates and chair yoga to walking groups and meditation. Professional caregivers also keep a watchful eye on blood pressure, temperature, weight and other vital health information. Because they get to know residents well, team members are often able to spot small problems and intervene before they become big ones.
While adult children frequently cite a parent’s physical safety and health as their top priorities, seniors themselves often worry more about losing their independence. But aging usually brings physical changes that can make living alone risky. Unlike older houses that may have many stairs to climb, poor lighting, outdated bathrooms and laundry rooms located in the basement, assisted living communities are designed with safety in mind. Safety benefits include grab bars in bathrooms and near the bed, handrails in hallways, emergency call systems, and step-free showers. Caregivers are available on-site around the clock in case the senior needs help to and from the bathroom or experiences a medical emergency.
Another benefit assisted living communities offer is transportation. Most communities provide or coordinate services to get residents to and from medical and other appointments. That means families don’t have to take time off work to transport their senior loved ones. Scheduled outings to area attractions, shopping centers, events and restaurants are also offered at most communities. For example, residents can sign up for a trip to a local museum or an afternoon matinee at a movie theatre. These outings help residents continue to feel connected with the world around them.
We hope this overview provides you with a better understanding of assisted living communities, and why they help offer older adults a better quality of life.
The items listed below are designed to support your family in this search and help ensure you make a confident decision. We invite you to download and share them with everyone involved in this process.