Every senior citizen and their family get to that point when they have to consider looking for assisted living care. However, finding a suitable place for a loved one that can offer an environment that feels like its home away from home can get quite stressful. The reason for moving to senior living is often prompted when a loved one has a severe medical condition, when they develop a need for round-the-clock care, when an elderly person desires a lifestyle change, or when they can no longer live independently as they did before.
The different situations that create the need for assisted living determine the type of facility that would best serve a particular elderly adult’s needs. It is essential to learn more about the options available in assisted living to make sure that your loved one settles for a fulfilling, healthy, and happy environment.
Before moving to assisted living, many families start out with at-home care where they hire a caregiver to cater to a loved one's medical and social needs. While caregivers cannot provide all the care available at assisted living homes, this is often the first option for families that do not want their loved one to have to stay away from home during their golden years. This type of care can end up getting quite expensive, but some families do not mind the costs as long as they have their loved one nearby. When at-home care is not possible or simply no longer feasible for your loved one’s situation, assisted living comes into play.
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The process of finding assisted living near you should start with in-depth research to figure out what kinds of communities are available in your area. It is also essential to pay a visit to as many of these assisted living residences as possible before settling for one. Generally, the types of assisted living that can be available to families include:
Assisted Living For Older Adults
Assisted Living facilities offer much of what the independent living communities provide including housing, social interaction, and private duty care. The main difference is that these facilities focus on providing their residents with assistance in performing everyday activities such as administering medicine, physical assistance including dressing, bathing and transportation and meal management.
Most of these facilities are also equipped to care for residents with memory disorders such as Alzheimer's, adults with physical disabilities, incontinence and other challenges. You may also be able to find memory care facilities near you that are dedicated solely to providing memory care.
Nursing Homes For The Elderly
Nursing homes combine several of the amenities typically offered by assisted living facilities alongside round-the-clock professional medical care. They also accommodate most patients that require long-term care regardless of their medical condition and whether they are elderly or not. Given the level of care they provide, they best suit seniors who are suffering from severe medical conditions that cannot be cared for in a typical assisted living environment.
However, not all nursing homes accept residents with dementia, but there are some that specialize in caring for Alzheimer's patients. Residents in nursing care facilities do not get the same level of independence they would from independent and assisted living communities.
Continuous Care/ Hybrid Communities
Some senior living facilities offer combinations of all of the services available in other stand-alone facilities. Most of these hybrid communities provide medical care on an outpatient basis, the choice of independent or assisted living, and full-time nursing services.
Such continuous care facilities best suit aging seniors who require ongoing care with adjustments to suit their changing needs. These facilities are also generally the most expensive, by far, and not all families will be able to afford them.
Hospice care caters to patients who are in the final stages of their lives. It can be provided in both assisted living facilities, as well as nursing homes, but not all facilities provide it. The facilities strive to offer comfort and care to their residents who are going through an emotionally challenging, final period of their life. Hospice care can also be provided at dedicated institutions.
Specialized Assisted Living
Aside from nursing homes that primarily focus on providing professional healthcare, other assisted living facilities might offer specialized senior care services. Some of these communities include:
- For the Mentally Disabled
Most assisted living providers do not cater to individuals with mental health challenges. However, some have started accommodating seniors with mental disorders. Some of the strides taken to cater to this group's needs include offering group therapy sessions, providing memory care to dementia and Alzheimer's patients, monitoring medication intake, access to 24-hour medical care, and recruiting professional staff who can assess and monitor residents with mental disabilities.
Mental health care senior facilities vary regarding the services and level of care they offer. Some also only accommodate elderly adults with specific psychiatric disorders that they can address.
- For couples
Making the life-changing move to a senior living community is often a challenging process, but it can be significantly less stressful when moving in with a loved one. Couples can find residence at independent and senior assisted living communities too. Most of the facilities that accommodate couples provide housing in apartments or even suites located within retirement communities.
When a couple has one member that needs specialized care while the other is still very much independent, they can both find residence at an assisted living facility. It helps to have a loved one close by to help with a significant portion of daily living while the facility can handle the rest.
- Pet-Friendly assisted living
Some assisted retirement communities are pet-friendly, accommodating residents and their furry little friends. Others might not allow the keeping of pets within the facility but have pet visitations or bring pets in on specific days as part of pet therapy. Policies vary from one senior living institution to the next, and one facility might only accommodate cats or smaller pets. Most facilities also have a limit to the number of pets per resident.
Pets play a vital role for seniors who have already been keeping them or encounter them in these communities. They offer some much-needed companionship, help seniors stay active by taking them out for walks, and they are also known to keep depression at bay.
- Luxurious Assisted Living
Most seniors look for assisted living communities that can cater to their daily needs and offer the peaceful environment they need to live their golden years. For some, that is not enough, and they want a facility that addresses their desires and indulgences. An upscale, luxurious assisted living facility goes beyond just meeting a senior’s basic needs, and provide excess comfort and personal enjoyment.
The communities function much like assisted living resorts, only that their residents are golden-agers. While most retirement communities offer entertainment, classes, and community-based activities, the luxurious senior facility goes the extra mile to meet their residents' personal indulgences. For instance, some might host fashion shows and lectures by renowned professors. They also have frequent outings, though mainly if they are located in urban settings.
Some of the other luxurious perks offered by these assisted living facilities include concierge services, gourmet dining, personal fitness trainers, spacious apartments, and cutting-edge therapy including Snoezelen and music therapy.
- All-inclusive Assisted Living
Some assisted living facilities say that they are all-inclusive and you might wonder what this means. In general, their definitions vary, but they should provide the following amenities, programs, and services for their residents to qualify as all-inclusive:
- Residential Communities - The facility should provide housing and grounds for residents, and the all-inclusive options should go a step further and offer furnished options. The residences should also be well-cared for and managed by qualified staff. It is also essential that residents have access to regular housekeeping, laundry as well as facility maintenance services.
- Activities - Seniors need to stay active in their golden years and have ways that keep them stimulated. All-inclusive assisted living communities should offer on-site fun activities, regular off-site trips, family and community events, frequent physical exercise activities, and learning-based activities.
- Personal Care - The primary care provided by assisted living facilities involves helping residents with their daily activities. An all-inclusive facility should have a team of well-trained staff, 24-hour supervision, and they should assist residents with tasks such as bathing, grooming, dressing, mobility, and medicine intake.
- Medical Services - When residents enter retirement facilities, they are often at different stages of medical needs. Assisted living communities should provide medical care to match their residents' needs. These services should include access to personal emergency response systems, ongoing medical plans as assessed and prepared by a medical practitioner, an in-house pharmacy, and a medication management system.
- A La Carte Assisted living
Some assisted retirement communities offer a sort of a la carte menu, allowing residents to customize their assisted living stay. A La Carte assisted living enables elderly adults to choose the services they feel they can best benefit from, and handle others themselves. Often, independent living residents stand to benefit most from the a la carte services because they often need minimal assistance. Usually, family members or caregivers step in to fill the gaps in care, which make A La Carte assisted living cost-effective overall.
However, some families might benefit more from the all-inclusive assisted option, mainly if they have a loved-one who needs more care than they can extend.
- Faith-Based, Religious and Culturally Diverse Options
Some assisted living communities also cater specifically to residents from a select cultural backgrounds or with a specific religious belief. However, more are providing a culturally and religion inclusive environment where all elderly adults are welcome. That means that they try their best to structure their services to meet their residents' varying cultural and spiritual needs.
For instance, some facilities offer kosher cuisines for their Jewish residents and also provide transportation to religious institutions. Some assisted living communities also specifically cater to the LGBT, and a few niche golf-oriented facilities are also available.
What Type of Assisted Living Does Your Loved One Need?
It does seem quite complicated understanding the ins and out of assisted living, more so because on top of these different types of institutions existing, there are hosts of them in existence. More than often, the decision to have an elderly family member move into a retirement home is driven by their changing health needs. It helps to start by figuring out your loved one's needs, and you can get an assessment from a physician to figure out the level of care they require.
It also helps to visit a couple of different types of assisted living communities when still deciding what is the absolute best for your loved one. The best times to visit is when they have a community or family event or even just on a random day to observe how the staff interact with the residents. It never hurts to also find out about personal experiences from other families who have loved ones residing in these communities.
The whole process should involve the elder family member who will spend their golden years in the facilities. Their preferences and choices also matter when it comes to choosing a local assisted living community. For instance, some might want to maintain as much of their independence as possible, and there are those who specifically want activity-based facilities. Financing the cost of assisted living always comes into play, and families should prepare for the $4,000+ average assisted living monthly cost before they start looking for a facility. It does help to start the search as soon as possible to give yourself enough time to find the best assisted living facility near you for your loved one.
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