What is Assisted living?

What is Assisted living?

Also referred to as congregate care, residential care or personal care, assisted living is the fastest growing type of senior residence. Created for disabled persons who need help in daily life, but do not need around the clock care, assisted living offers more independence and privacy than more expensive nursing homes and allows residents to come and go at their own discretion.

Assisted living does not refer to monetary assistance. Support is offered on the physical level and residents rent their accommodations, much like the general public. Assisted living facilities can vary on the level of assistance provided, yet all offer domestic services such as housekeeping and meals, assistance with daily living activities and health monitoring, which are included in the rent. Most residents choose assisted living because they have lost some mental or physical capabilities and prefer this lifestyle alternative to traditional nursing homes.

There are many different styles of assisted living facilities that can be rented. Rent depends upon the level of assistance provided and the size of the living accommodation, but will generally be one-half to one-third less expensive than traditional nursing home facilities. Residents may choose from private one-bedroom apartments with kitchenettes or shared rooms without kitchens, and everything in between. They may be furnished or unfurnished, and are typically smaller than apartments and rooms that are rented to the general public. Many times they are equipped with safety devices, such as a hospital bed or handrails.

Assisted living does not offer medical care or the amount of attention that one would receive at a nursing home, but it does provide assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and health monitoring. ADLs can include dressing, bathing, walking, eating and other daily activities, such as getting out of bed or moving from a chair to the bathroom. Health monitoring services can include keeping track of the resident's medications, making sure they eat properly, checking on them throughout the night, monitoring their physical conditions, tracking medical appointments and providing transportation to doctor visits. While ADLs and health monitoring are assisted, they are not at the resident's disposal. Assisted living facilities create strict schedules for the resident to follow, based on their needs.

Assisted living facilities also offer a host of other attractive offerings: daily meals, housekeeping, social activities and exercise programs. When interviewing an assisted living facility, it is important to find out their individual offerings. Depending upon the facility, two or three meals are served daily, relieving the resident from buying food, cooking and cleaning. The meals are included in rent, served community style and offer the resident an opportunity to socialize. Housekeeping can include a host of domestic services, from cleaning to laundry. Many facilities also schedule weekly social activities to stimulate the residents and keep them healthy and active physically, mentally and socially. These activities vary greatly depending upon the facility, but can include exercise classes, social gatherings and guest lecturers. Before choosing a facility, ask to see their activities schedule.

Assisted living can be an enjoyable alternative to nursing facilities. When shopping for an assisted living accommodation it is important to consider your needs and their specific offerings. Ask about ADLs, meals, social activities, health monitoring and make sure you are being offered everything needed for a fair price. Before signing an agreement it is advisable to meet with your lawyer to go over the details.

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