The Right Place (What is assisted living?)

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What in the world is it?

Assisted Living provides a non institutional, choice driven residential setting in which senior residents are supported by services; such as nutritious meals, healthy snacks, laundry, housekeeping, medication assistance & 24/7 watchful oversight by trained personal care professionals. A good Assisted Living home is also is an excellent outlet for a variety of activities & socialization that engage the mind, body and spirit. According the AARP, Assisted Living homes are best suited for seniors that do not require skilled nursing services on an ongoing basis.

How Do I Find The Best Option?

Look around. Do your homework & determine the community characteristics that would be most beneficial for your unique situation. Is a smaller more intimate setting or a larger community more appropriate? Ask yourself; what are the issues at hand– mobility, cognition, social, spiritual or special heath issues involved? Do you want to be close to a hospital, doctor, shopping, church or other services?

Some communities include special programs & services to support residents with impaired cognitive ability such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. If a facility does not offer these programs, will your loved one be able to age in place?

Once you have determined your needs & desires, compile a list of communities to visit. Ask your physician, professional contacts, pastor or peers to make a referral & then visit several communities on site. Drop in unexpectedly & make careful observations. How does the community assess & meet their resident’s needs? Are there programs that allow for aging in place as one’s health & functioning become compromised? Are there options for length of stay; short term, day care or respite? Is the staff attentive & polite? What do the residents say about their care? Are they engaged, happy & satisfied? Do they have spiritual & devotional programs on site?

Ideally families should take steps to understand their options and make proactive choices so that the best possible care & decision can be made well in advance of having to react in a crisis situation.

Consider the cost

Costs vary with communities based on length of stay, services offered, location, etc. Most communities will require a non refundable deposit & some have administrative or other up front fees. Expect to find both month-to-month options as well as longer term contractual obligations.

Watch out for “levels of care”. A community may offer a base rate for occupancy & then proceed to charge extra based on personal care requirements aka “levels of care”. Request AND KNOW all charges up front. Many times an assessment must be conducted in order to determine “levels of care”. Make sure you know these charges BEFORE you move in.

Veteran’s may take advantage of the ‘Aid and Benefits Program’” which is solely designed for Personal Care and Assisted Living homes. Through this program, Veterans and surviving spouses of Veterans are able to receive financial assistance to help pay for Assisted Living. Ask your chosen AL community to assist you with information on applying & obtaining this benefit.

Additional resources to cover costs include long-term care insurance and Life insurance conversions along with Social Security, pension and retirement funds. Medical Insurance, Medicare and Medicaid are for skilled nursing facilities and do not apply to a residential Assisted Living community.

Ease the Transition

As a concerned adult child, you may recognize the time has come when your loved one would benefit from 24 hour personal care, consistent social interaction, cognitive programs and 24 hour watchful oversight. Here comes the hard part. If you have identified a community you know would benefit & enhance their quality of life it may be time to take the role of primary decision maker on behalf of your loved one. Again this step can be the most difficult to take. However when you think about your loved ones current situation are they really experiencing a good quality of life? Do you fear they may lonely or isolated? What if they fall? Are they safe? What about medications, are they being taken properly? Are they connected with peers & the community? Do they receive excellent access to spiritual, physical & emotional activities?

If you know your loved one is not experiencing life to the fullest, what are you going to do about that? Recognize that they need YOU to take the lead in determining the best life choice & work with the community to help prepare your loved one for the transition. Many times they have resources to aid in estate planning & moving and other complimentary services.

After the Move

When your loved one transitions to Assisted Living, make sure to visit often, attend physician visits & other appoints together. Get to know the staff that provide daily hands on care & report any concerns or kudos to leadership as soon as they occur. It may take a while to settle in & become comfortable with daily activities but in a great setting, you will see your loved one bloom & thrive!

Contact Rock Creek Manor for more information