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Understanding the Concept of Assisted Living

When it comes to retirement or senior housing options, there are several types to consider. Assisted living is a common choice for seniors who may need long-term, personalized care for daily tasks and activities. 

If you or your loved ones are contemplating on whether assisted living is the way to go for senior homes, you can also have peace of mind knowing that staff is available 24/7, in case of an emergency. Assisted living is a great balance between living independently while also having a sense of security and support as you go about your daily schedule.

What Does Assisted Living Mean? 

In the U.S., assisted living has no single definition as it often varies from state to state and even country to country, as services offered can also differ. Generally, however, it is a type of housing option for seniors or older individuals who may need extra assistance with day-to-day tasks. These tasks can encompass housekeeping, using the bathroom, making meals, going to appointments, and the like. 

In an assisted living facility (ALF), they typically offer the assurance of 24-hour security and care. These facilities can accommodate different levels of care but still give residents some independence. In most facilities, meals may be served in a common area. Staff can assist with dispensing medication, bathing, dressing, laundry, cleaning, emergency care, and recreation. 

Why Is There No Set Definition on Assisted Living? 

Definitions of assisted living may differ because plans can be personalized to fit a resident’s needs. Depending on the facility, you may live in a solo room, shared room, or even a full apartment. Since assisted living regulations may differ per state, definitions of this may also vary.

How Do State Regulations Differ? 

Each state has its own certification or licensing requirements for ALFs and their executive directors. These regulations differ because they consider the existing services and housing programs for seniors in the area. Also, state regulations exist to adapt to the demands and needs of locals in the area as well.

How Much Do Assisted Living Facilities Cost? 

Costs for assisted living facilities will differ per state, services rendered, and size of the residence. On average, however, assisted living may cost roughly $135 per day or $4,000 a month. While somewhat pricey, this is still a cheaper retirement option compared to staying in a nursing home. 

How Does Assisted Living Differ From Personal Care?       

While often conflated with one another, there are a few key differences between assisted living and personal care. ALFs need to meet requirements with regard to their accommodations. The units and common areas have to be a particular size. 

In addition to this, there should be some kitchen equipment, bathrooms, and doors that lock in an assisted living unit. A maximum of two residents can share a unit in an assisted living community. In personal care facilities, common areas can be smaller than those in ALFs. There should also be an emergency notification system in place in an ALF. 

A licensed nurse should be on-call at all times, and registered dieticians should also be employed. The staff of ALFs has to undergo intensive training periods compared to personal care facilities. This is to ensure that residents get proper care should their needs end up beyond the standard level of care provided in assisted living facilities. 

Residents are considered responsible for furnishing their units with kitchen equipment. Doors do not necessarily have to lock in personal care facilities. Four residents can share a unit, and bathrooms can also be shared by more individuals. Personal care facilities do not need emergency notification systems. 

What Are Some Features of Assisted Living?  

There are some special features in assisted living facilities that distinguish them from other retirement housing options. Here are some indicators that your chosen community is an assisted living facility.  

Housing Types

Assisted living facilities may be in high-rise buildings or more expansive properties. The most common housing types within these structures include private rooms, shared rooms, condos, memory care rooms, and high-tech or smart rooms.

Resident Profile

Residents in ALFs are typically those who need assistance with their daily care. They are more independent compared to those who live in nursing homes, and can choose the levels of care that they may require. Not all residents of assisted living facilities may be seniors — those who have experienced mental decline or have disabilities may also live here.

Special Considerations

As mentioned above, there are special considerations in ALFs that distinguish these from other housing types. Assisted living facilities can also house individuals who are recovering from surgery, or who may be ill or injured for a certain period of time and need additional support. 

Locked Units 

Assisted living facilities are also ideal for those with mental disabilities or dementia, therefore units are locked or secured to prevent residents from leaving or harming themselves. These rooms may have higher levels of security in terms of their staff as well. Locked units also help these residents through activities that help with their mental or cognitive abilities. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to live in an assisted living facility? 

A survey by Genworth Financial projected the average cost of assisted living in 2020 to be $4,300 per month. Similarly, a report by the National Center for Assisted Living estimated the median cost of assisted living to be $51,600 annually, which also amounts to $4,300 per month. 

Is senior living the same as assisted living? 

Assisted living is a type of senior living option that focuses on everything from senior health care to personal care. This level of care makes it different from independent living facilities. 

What is the difference between supportive living and assisted living? 

Supportive living communities give the same level of care and medical access as assisted living facilities do. The difference is that supportive living communities, as the name suggests, offer financial assistance through Medicaid, veteran’s benefits, or other programs. 

What is an assisted living assessment? 

An assisted living assessment examines and ranks a resident’s behaviors, chronic illnesses, communication skills, dietary needs, ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs), and the like. 

When should you move to assisted living? 

If your elderly loved one recently experienced a fall or medical emergency, or if their chronic health condition is deteriorating, it might be time to look into assisted living. 

Now that you have a better understanding of what assisted living facilities are, you may make a more informed decision about whether this is the right fit for you or your loved ones. 

Take a look at our list of the best assisted living facilities in the US for more information or check out the rest of Senior Strong today for additional assistance!

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