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What is Assisted Living and What Do I Need To Know?

Transitioning yourself or a loved one to assisted living can feel like a very big step. However, contrary to what may appear on the surface, residents can maintain a relatively independent life while having a safety net available to support them if need be. Nevertheless, it’s important to select a facility that fits your needs and preferences. Here’s what you need to know about assisted living and what to look for as you begin your search. 

The Definition of Assisted Living

Assisted living is a form of housing designed to support people with various levels of needs and medical care. These can consist of apartments, individual rooms, or shared quarters. Assisted living aims to provide a home-like environment that encourages an individual’s independence. Even so, specific services are provided if necessary for particular residents. 

In other words, assisted living is the middle ground between independent residency and nursing home care. There are just enough services that residents can feel comfortable and supported without losing a sense of independence. Assisted living facilities also provide healthy social opportunities for residents using clubs, activities, and wellness programs. 

Assisted Living Services

Think of assisted living services as hotel room-level support with a slight emphasis on medical needs. While the range of services offered by specific facilities can vary, most residents are capable of having their own space while having access to 24/7 care. Some commonly shared facility services include:

• 1-3 meals a day
• Housekeeping and laundry
• Medication monitoring
• Personal care like dressing and bathing
• Specific medical services
• Social and recreational activities
• What it Doesn’t Provide

While assisted living facilities do offer some specific medical services, it should be emphasized that it’s not the same as nursing home care. In a skilled nursing facility, residents receive full-time care from an experienced team of medical professionals. These facilities are typically licensed by Medicare and/or Medicaid with an emphasis on short-term rehabilitation or long-term medical care. 

Nursing homes may also offer specialized care devoted to certain patients or health needs. Some examples include memory care units or specifically designed facilities for those living with developmental disabilities. In other words, if you or a loved one needs more specialized care, assisted living may not provide all the services you need. 

How to Search for Facilities in Your Community

If you’re searching for an assisted living facility for you or your loved one, it’s important to narrow down what services you need first. For example, will you need assistance with everyday tasks like dressing, bathing, or taking medication? What are your reasons for wanting to change your living arrangements in the first place? This will help you understand what to look for in a facility and what kind of care you need. 

From there, create a list of assisted living facilities to visit. This can be done in a variety of ways. A quick Google search along with looking at reviews can be a great place to start. You can also look up your local Area Agency on Aging to see if your state has a database of assisted living facilities. Feel free to look into recommendations from other friends, family, or medical professionals. 

What to Look For in an Assisted Living Facility

Once you begin to tour assisted living facilities, it’s good to have your eye out for specific services or qualities. This should take details like price points and specific services into account. Make sure your tours include discussions with administrators, staff, and other residents. If you’re helping a loved one choose an assisted living facility, make sure they always come with you and initiate most of the discussions. 

Here are some characteristics to consider when deciding on an assisted living facility:

• Emergency generators or alternative power sources for potential power outages
• A variety of comfortable communal spaces
• An easy facility design and layout
• Overall cleanliness
• Large, cozy rooms with supportive technology like call buttons and handrails in the bathroom
• Safety locks on doors and windows
• Well-marked exits along with strongly lit stairwells and hallways
• Fire safety and security systems
• Miscellaneous services like banking, cafes, or beauty salons
• Paying for Assisted Living,

Unfortunately, assisted living can be expensive. If financial security is a concern for you or your loved one, there are some options you can consider. Since the average assisted living care includes a monthly fee of $4,300, you can try to develop a budget from there. You should also look into your insurance and see if they cover long-term care.

Another option includes Medicaid, the federal/state healthcare program for people with low income and limited assets. States may also offer general financial aid for qualified individuals. Veterans or loved ones of former military service people should consider coverage from the VA. They offer a variety of financial services that could significantly cover costs related to assisted living. 

Making the transition from complete independence to assisted living can be a big step for anyone. Thankfully, our compassionate and experienced professionals at Arbors of Ohio are happy to answer any questions you may have about assisted living services. Contact us to learn more about our own assisted living facilities and how we can help!

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