What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a long-term care solution for your elderly parent or loved one who needs help and is no longer safe or healthy living independently. An assisted living community provides around-the-clock care by trained care staff in a home-like environment. The care managers will assist your parent or loved one with the activities of daily living (referred to often as ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, toileting, personal hygiene, transferring, eating, and medication management. Most assisted living communities employ an on-staff nurse to oversee medical care plans and assist with changes in care as their needs increase. Assisted living communities are not clinical like a hospital, but rather comfortable and welcoming homes. They are built on a social model to engage residents and encourage making new friends. Residents eat their meals together in a shared dining room, enjoy communal areas, socialize during daily activities, and live in private apartments.
What Services are Provided in an Assisted Living Community?
Meals in an assisted living community are social events that residents look forward to throughout the day. Food can be a source of comfort, bringing residents together to socialize and celebrate special occasions or holidays. Most assisted living communities serve three meals per day in a communal dining room. Snacks and beverages are available to encourage proper hydration and to make sure residents are getting their daily caloric intake. At Aegis Living, we take great pride in the meals that we serve our residents and their guests. Our chefs source the freshest products and seasonal ingredients to create a rotating menu that is not only delicious but packed with nutrition. The dining experience is where neighbors become friends, and good stories are shared around the table.
Housekeeping & Laundry
The goal of an assisted living community is to help residents with personal activities and chores that may be overwhelming to them. Housekeeping and laundry are taken care of by the staff to alleviate this burden for a resident. Personal laundry service means that residents will always have clean clothes and linens. And housekeeping will keep their homes clean and well-kept.
Social & Recreational Activities
Assisted living communities are based on a social model with daily, rotating activities to keep residents active and engaged. These activities vary depending on the community and the location, but common activities include local excursions, exercise classes, trivia games, live music, cooking demonstrations, and other forms of arts and entertainment. Aegis Living has a robust activity program, called Life Enrichment, with education programs that include TED Talks, travelogues, brainteasers, music therapy, art, and wellness classes that focus on mental wellbeing as well as functional strength and balance to help reduce falls. Our Life Enrichment program is designed to encourage residents to make new friends and interact socially with their peers.
Assisted living communities provide care for their residents with personalized care plans and staffed with a 24-hour available nurse and around-the-clock care staff to administer and track medication, monitor changes in their health condition, and assist with daily needs. The care managers are specially trained staff, not typically RNs. Many assisted living communities bring in specialists, such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, or geriatric psychiatrists, on a regular schedule to treat residents within the privacy of their apartments. And like Aegis Living, many assisted living communities partner with an on-site physician, so residents do not need to leave their community for a doctor’s appointment.
The care staff in assisted living communities are compassionate individuals who enjoy working with and caring for the elderly. They assist with ADLs as needed, such as dressing, toileting, personal hygiene, and eating. They are available around-the-clock to assist your parent or loved one and to keep them safe. At Aegis Living, every employee understands that they are working in the home of our residents and are respectful of that. They are professional yet close to our residents—more like caring for a family member. They know that a resident’s physical health is just as important as their mental health, engagement, and joy.
24/7 Emergency Care
One of the many reasons that families seek an assisted living community for their loved one is that in the event of an emergency, such as a fall or sudden illness, they are not alone. Around-the-clock professionals are available to get a resident immediate help or medical attention if needed. Care managers are continually watching for changes in health and can quickly alert the nurse and family if any changes need to be addressed. An assisted living community will keep a close eye on the overall wellbeing of their residents, monitoring their nutrition, activity level, cognitive changes, strength, stamina, and behaviors. If their physical or mental health changes, the community can get them immediate assistance and care.
What are the Benefits of Assisted Living?
Many families find great peace of mind after moving their parent or loved one to an assisted living community. They may not have realized how much energy was spent worrying about their parent living alone. Assisted living communities are not only designed to be comfortable for the residents but also secure. Grab bars in the shower, railings to help support unsteady residents, wider hallways to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, panic call buttons, ramps, automatic opening doors, elevators, and visitor kiosks would not be feasible to install in a private home, but these features can assist with a loved one’s mobility, help to prevent falls, and ensure they are safe.
Most assisted living communities offer transportation such as a van, bus, or town car. Transportation can become an issue for many seniors who can no longer drive and hate to inconvenience others for a ride. Not being able to get to the grocery store, doctor’s appointment, or pharmacy can be detrimental to their health and wellbeing. Residents at Aegis Living can simply schedule transportation with the front desk to get them where they need to go safely.
If your parent or loved one lives alone, this independence comes with a degree of loneliness and isolation. The emotional benefits of socializing are critical for the wellbeing of seniors. In an assisted living community, ample communal areas encourage residents and neighbors to sit, talk, and interact with each other. Throughout the day, there are activities planned, including excursions, classes, cultural events, brain games, exercise, volunteer opportunities, and much more. These activities are great ways to meet their peers, engage with the staff, and feel part of the community.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to care at an assisted living community. At Aegis Living, the care and attention that we devote to our residents are as unique as they are. From engaging activities to customized assistance and personalized care plans, assisted living communities offer one-of-a-kind care based on the unique needs, interests, comforts, and preferences of each individual. This type of personalized care takes dedication to deliver precisely what they need, when they need it, and correctly evaluating when needs change. It also means providing residents with familiar comforts to make them feel part of the community and well cared for. Aegis Living doesn’t offer a cookie-cutter approach to care but provides personalized care by accurately assessing both the physical and emotional needs of the residents and providing care that meets those needs.
The Difference Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Facilities
Often, assisted living communities are confused with skilled nursing facilities (also known as a SNF). The main difference is the level of care. If your parent has a chronic medical condition, a skilled nursing facility can provide around-the-clock nursing care to medically aid patients with acute needs. A SNF is similar to a hospital. Whereas an assisted living community can provide care and personal assistance, but the environment is described as more home-like. An assisted living community is often a long-term solution to provide oversight, care, and safety for your parent or loved one. A SNF is typically a short-term solution for patients who may be recuperating from surgery, need daily therapy, or supervised nursing care with the goal of either moving them back home or to an assisted living community.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?
As with the purchase of a home or apartment rental, prices vary depending on the location, size, and amenities. In addition, an assisted living community will provide personalized care and those costs can vary depending on each resident’s unique needs. The assisted living community will complete an assessment of your parent or loved one before moving in to determine their care needs and the cost of that care. The cost of care is separate from the monthly rent. In general, assisted living communities’ starting average is around $4000-$4500 per month on the west coast. A skilled nursing facility averages over $7000 per month because of the higher level of professional nursing and doctor oversight. Most assisted living communities are private pay only, while skilled nursing homes may take Medicare if they are Medicare certified, and possibly Medicaid if your loved one has income and assets below specific guidelines. In determining and monitoring staffing levels, Aegis Living considers resident assessments and other factors.
Is an Assisted Living Community Right for Your Loved One?
Most often, when families are discussing long-term care for their parent or loved one, they have seen signs that make them concerned about their health and safety. These red flags should not be ignored and may be detrimental to your loved one's health and wellbeing. A long-term solution like an assisted living community can benefit your loved one in many ways—socially, physically, and emotionally—and bring your family peace of mind. It is worth having a conversation with your family and loved one to see how receptive they are to move. You might be surprised by their answer!
Here are a few signs that your loved one may benefit from living in an assisted living community:
1. Your loved one has expressed feelings of loneliness or isolation.
A parent or loved one living on their own may feel isolated and lonely, especially if they have lost a spouse or close friends. Many seniors don’t want to burden their adult children, so they may not share how they feel alone. An assisted living community is built on a social model that encourages daily interactions with staff, neighbors, and new friends. Although the residents live in a private apartment, they are encouraged to take part in daily activities, dine on three meals in the dining room, and share common space and amenities. Socialization has proven to be critical to seniors' health, happiness, and overall sense of wellbeing.
2. Your loved one’s physical appearance has declined.
Your loved one’s physical appearance is not a matter of fashion, but an issue of their health. If they are looking disheveled and in the same outfit, this could be a sign of depression, or they could be overwhelmed with caring for their home, including doing the laundry. If their personal hygiene, grooming, and appearance are not being properly maintained, this may be a sign that they could benefit from moving to an assisted living community. Of course, retired people don’t need to wear a tie or get dressed for work every day, so their attire may relax. This situation is different. If you notice that they are in the same outfit every time you visit, their hair is not washed, and their clothes are not laundered, it may be time to research how your parent or loved one may benefit from an assisted living community.
3. You are concerned about your loved one’s health and safety.
There are several reasons that you may worry about your parent or loved one living alone. These reasons are personal and specific to your situation. You are worried they will fall, forget to turn off the stove, aren’t eating enough, or aren’t eating healthy. Your concerns may be different for a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. Whatever the reason or situation, your loved one living on their own may no longer be feasible or sustainable for their health, safety, or happiness. An assisted living community is designed for the comfort of the residents but also includes safeguards to help protect them.
4. Your loved one may need more support than you can provide.
At some point, you may no longer be able to care for the physical demands or medical needs of an aging parent or loved one on your own. Their needs may change and can extend beyond what you have the capacity or ability to provide. You may be working full time and raising a family of your own, leaving you little time to care for a loved one who needs help throughout the day. If your parent needs help with ADLs, such as dressing, grooming, toileting, eating, and transferring, then it is time to research assisted living options that may benefit them.
If you or your family are wondering if your loved one is safe living on their own, whether they are steady on their feet, able to grocery shop and cook healthy meals, capable of getting to a doctor’s appointment, or are socially isolated, then an assisted living community may be a good fit for them. They will receive intimate care from around-the-clock, specially trained care staff who know how to serve this aging generation safely and with dignity.
To learn more about our assisted living care options and how your loved one can benefit, contact your local Aegis Living community. Our staff is happy to give you a tour, answer your questions, and help you find the right fit for your family.
Additional Resources: Greenwood (Seattle)
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