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for Choosing Assisted Living as an Alternative
the right assisted living facility should be an involved and carefully
thought-out process because the decision is extremely important for
your family’s security and happiness.
Assisted living is the generic term used across the country to describe facilities
for people needing assistance with the activities of daily living but who wish
to live independently for as long as possible.
Assisted living is separate and distinct from nursing homes, which are designed
to care for very frail people who are not able to care for themselves or who
have numerous healthcare requirements. It is also different than independent
living, which is for people who want to and are able to live independently, but
do not want to maintain a home.
Assisted living was created to bridge the gap between independent living and
nursing homes. In many cases, assisted living facilities are connected with independent
living residences and nursing homes. The combination is known as a continuing
care retirement community.
In evaluating assisted living communities, it is critical to match the needs
and desires of the potential resident with the capabilities of the facility to
meet those conditions. It is important that the prospective resident and their
loved ones visit facilities under consideration, taking time to talk to the staff
and residents and read through any brochures and information offered.
Visits should take place at various times of the day and week in order to get
a complete impression of the facility and to evaluate the residents and staff.
It is also important to find out which state and federal regulations apply and
make sure that the facility properly complies with them.
While all facilities are required to meet minimum legal standards regarding staffing,
level of assistance and building codes, not all of them are created equal. Ideally,
the assisted living facility should be home in the mind of the resident.
A careful assessment should be made of the atmosphere and comfort level. Considerations
may range from whether or not pets are allowed the during the facility’s
visiting hours. Other questions include the availability of meals and whether
or not special accommodations can be made to suit individual residents.
One of the major attractions of assisted living is the opportunity it affords
seniors for peer interaction and socialization. Factors to consider are the frequency
and extent of planned activities, the availability of contact with the outside
community and transportation and the amount of independence afforded to residents.
Equipment and amenities should be readily apparent during visits. Exercise facilities
should be available, and the residence should be able to handle any special needs
that its clients may have. The available rooms should fit the client’s
lifestyle. Considerations such as availability of religious facilities or routine
medical care should also be addressed.
Financially, the facility must meet the long-term resources available to the
client. Future events such as anticipated rate increases need to be factored
into the calculation. Whatever the cost, it is important to understand what services
are covered and what services are not.
Most facilities have policies regarding involuntary termination of residence.
These should be discussed, particularly if they involve behavioral or medical
conditions. Payment arrangements and responsibilities should be hammered out
before entering into any agreement.
Finally, the residence should provide a safe and comforting environment. Everything
from staffing practices to safety equipment should be assessed on any residential
exploration. Access to residential medical treatment and outside medical facilities
should be addressed.
Assisted living can be a rewarding experience that allows seniors to remain active,
socially connected, healthy and safe. The key is to knowing what to look for
to ensure a fit with the senior and the assisted living facility.
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