Assisted living residences are housing facilities for disabled people or adults who either cannot or choose against living independently. According to the U.S. government, in 2012 there were an estimated 22,200 assisted living residences in the U.S.,
roughly 7,000 more than nursing homes. About 713,300 people lived in these facilities in that year. The number has increased dramatically since the year 2000 and is expected to continue to increase. Assisted living provides various levels of personal and medical care for its residents. The living spaces vary from individual rooms to apartments; some have shared quarters. These facilities have the intent of providing a setting that is home-like. They are designed physically to promote the independence of their residents. Provided services assist residents with tasks of daily living. Assisted living facilities offer care to adults aged 18 years or older, with eligibility based on individual levels of care requirements.
Types of Assisted Living
Four main types of assisted living facilities are available to those adults seeking various levels of independence and care. They are:
- Independent Living, or IL: a senior living option designed to provide independent seniors with an active lifestyle in communities of their peers. Generally consisting of apartment type housing, IL facilities generally are age-restricted.
- Assisted Living, or AL: a living option combining apartment type housing, private duty services for support as necessary, and organized social interaction. Assisted living is best for individuals needing help with such everyday activities as medication management, meals, dressing, bathing, and transportation.
- Skilled Nursing Facility, or SNF: an institution, or part of one, meeting criteria for accreditation according to the parts of the SSA, or Social Security Act, determining the basis for reimbursement by Medicare or Medicaid. Skilled nursing care is provided, including rehabilitation and an assortment of nursing and medical procedures.
- Continuous Care Retirement, or CCRC: these retirement communities are campuses that gather all of the gradations of care into one property.
Benefits of Assisted Living
Moving into assisted living can be a difficult decision to make. Seniors and disabled individuals are faced with a slew of decisions in terms of living options. Those who can benefit when provided the option of assistance around the clock without being fully reliant upon assistance are generally a good fit for assisted living. There, they will face many benefits. These include:
- A lower cost when compared to the expense of nursing homes.
- A certain degree of independence without the requirement of maintaining a home themselves.
- Circumstances in housing that adapt to the changing needs of residents.
- Assistance with certain daily living tasks such as eating, bathing, and dressing.
- The continuation of a home-like setting with a great deal of personal privacy.
- An opportunity to socialize with peers of similar ages and circumstances with scheduled activities.
Even seniors with physical challenges or early dementia can adapt to a life that is fairly independent at an assisted living facility.
Finding an Assisted Living Home
When people begin a search for assisted living facilities for their loved ones, they are looking for circumstances that will allow those individuals to be safe, well cared for, and happy for as long as they stay there. A fair amount of research goes into finding the ideal residence. Location is one important aspect when weighing priorities for assisted living facilities. People may choose residences that are close to themselves or to other relatives and friends. They may also choose to keep their loved ones in locations close to their current homes. Once the location has been decided upon, people should look for facilities in the area, and then arrange for tours. They should ask for brochures or website information. Talking to residents and staff is also vital. Seekers should keep notes of each location visited to ensure that the pros and cons of each can later be reviewed in making the ultimate decision.
Assisted living facilities can be an immense benefit to those who need a little help in the day to day tasks of living but do not yet require complete dependent care. Weighing the benefits of each type of facility and each facility in the desired location will help to make a final decision in which residence to choose. These guidelines should help anyone with this choice.