10 Things to Know About Assisted Living
You may know that assisted living helps millions of people live as independently as possible, but there is a lot you may not know about assisted living. Assisted living communities are apartment-styled homes that offer a great deal of freedom to older adults, for example, or be unaware that assisted living communities offer fitness programs, access to art, continuing education, music and more.
Here are the top ten things you may not already know about assisted living, but should.
- Assisted living communities are a relative new concept but have evolved quickly
Park Place in Portland, Oregon opened its doors in 1981 to become the first assisted living community. Those first residents enjoyed private rooms with doors that locked, community areas for social interaction and the security of 24-hour staffing in case of medical emergencies.
Today’s assisted living communities still offer private residences, community areas and medical staff, but most of the modern assisted living communities offer a wide variety of amenities and services.
- “Assisted living” is not an official term, so assisted living communities can vary greatly
There is no official definition of the term “assisted living,” so various assisted living communities might offer different levels of care. Typical services can include:
- 24-hour supervision and assistance
- Exercise, health, and wellness programs
- Housekeeping and maintenance
- Meals and dining services
- Medication management or assistance
- Personal care services, including assistance with activities of daily living
Assisted living communities provide personalized care and varying levels of support, depending on a person’s individual needs. Individual accommodations, personal assistance, and therapeutic programs encourage and maximize independence.
- Assisted living is not the same as skilled nursing
Assisted living is for older adults who need help with two or more activities of daily living, such as bathing or dressing. Skilled nursing is for older adults who need medical care for their chronic conditions, short term convalescence, or rehabilitative care.
- There are many assisted living communities to choose from
There are 30,200 assisted living communities in the United States, according to the National Center for Assisted Living, and these communities provide more than one million licensed beds. Some are in urban settings, while others provide a rural atmosphere.
The average number of licensed beds within an assisted living community is 33, but the number of licensed beds within an assisted living community can range from 4 to 499. This allows residents to choose the community size that best suits their personal needs.
- Accreditation is important
The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is an independent organization that sets exceedingly high standards for care and services, and awards accreditation to only those assisted living communities that meet or exceed those standards. Representatives from CARF perform on-site surveys to determine if a community conforms to the standards set by the agency.
CARF accreditation ensures the community demonstrates public transparency and accountability above and beyond the basic requirements for licensure. Accreditation from CARF offers assurance that the assisted living community is committed to providing high quality care and services that focus on the needs and preferences of residents and their families.
- Many high quality assisted living communities provide higher levels of care as needed
Even the most active and independent adults need a little extra help now and then, but moving from one place to another just to receive the appropriate level of care can be inconvenient. It can also lead to relocation stress syndrome, also known as transfer trauma, defined as physical or psychological disturbances as the result of moving from one place to another. Transfer trauma can cause confusion, depression, and agitation that can lead to increased risk of falls, problems with self-care, and unintentional weight loss. Older adults are especially prone to relocation stress syndrome.
Many assisted living communities offer on-site skilled nursing care for temporary stays or fulltime residency. This allows individuals to stay in their assisted living communities, among friends and familiar surroundings, while receiving the care they need to recuperate from an injury or illness.
- Assisted living communities offer more amenities than most people have access to in private homes
Assisted living communities feature campus life, which allows for more amenities than do other types of living arrangements. Residents of quality assisted living communities have immediate access to art exhibition galleries and studios, biking and activity paths, canoe and kayak launches, coffee shops, community centers, exercise studios and fitness centers, game rooms, gift shops, tennis courts, libraries, and private dining. Most private homes do not offer the same amenities, such as theaters, wood and metal workshops, indoor pools and spas.
- Assisted living communities offer a variety of floor plans to fit nearly every need
Assisted living residences may offer small, medium and large living spaces. Many assisted living communities feature one, two or three-bedroom townhomes, or one or two-bedroom patio homes. Assisted living apartments range in size from cozy studios to generous two-bedroom accommodations. Some high quality assisted living communities feature walk-out or finished basements, and incredible amenities like year-round sunrooms, fireplaces, and third bathrooms.
- Fluffy or Fido is welcome, too!
Many studies show the health benefits of pet ownership. A 2016 study shows that pet ownership and dog walking was beneficial to the health and well-being of older adults, as there is a correlation between dog walking and more frequent exercise, lower body mass index (BMI), fewer doctor visits, and an increase in social benefits for older adults. Other research shows that people with dementia have increased social behaviors in the presence of an animal, that animal therapy reduces behavioral disturbances, and that people have less agitation when around animals.
Various assisted living communities have different policies when it comes to pets, but many assisted living settings allow pets, including Medford Leas. Specific breed restrictions or size limits may apply. Cats, small- to medium-sized dogs and other animals, such as birds and fish, may be able to live on site. Some communities conduct pet interviews to determine if the animal companion is a good fit within the living environment.
- Assisted living is a socially rewarding and culturally rich experience
Living alone can lead to social isolation, which can negatively affect the health and quality of a person’s life. A paper published by AARP suggests that isolation can have a negative effect on an older adult’s physical, social, and psychological health. Social isolation can also suppress a person’s motivation to access the support they need.
Assisted living communities provide access to as much or as little social interaction as an individual desires. These communities also give residents a chance to meet new people. Residents of assisted living communities come from all walks of life, from engineers and educators to attorneys and nurses. Assisted living communities offer residents a chance to socialize with other adults daily, and to engage with people they might not have otherwise met.
The activities generally offered at assisted living communities, such as dancing and outings, give people many new and interesting ways to interact with one another.
Medford Leas provides a wide variety of activities, amenities and services at its accredited Continuing Care Retirement Community in New Jersey. Medford Leas provides a uniquely fulfilling living experience to adults age 55 and older. Spread across two campuses, the heart of the Medford campus is located on 168 acres of The Barton Arboretum and Nature Preserve, so residents enjoy paved and natural trails, wildflower meadows, woodlands, streams with canoe and kayak launches, and more. Assisted living at Medford Leas provides varying levels of personal assistance, specialized support services, and programs that encourage and maximize independence in every resident. Contact us today to learn more.