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What is Assisted Living?
Chelsea Sayegh

By: Chelsea Sayegh on November 8th, 2018

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What is Assisted Living?

Aging & Caregiving

What is assisted living? If you’re asking yourself this, you’re not alone. While it may seem like a basic question, it’s one that staff members at senior living communities are frequently asked. Between assisted living, nursing homes, retirement communities, and more, there are a lot of terms that are easy to confuse when you’re considering housing for a senior loved one.

To find out if assisted living is right for your family member, you need to understand what this type of senior living entails and the level of care it can offer.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is available to seniors who need extra assistance in their daily life. It's designed as an option for aging adults who may not be as independent as they once were. You can still be very independent once moving to an assisted living community, but if and when help is needed, a team will be there for you. As care needs increase, the community will be there to support its residents. In the event someone's needs become too much for the community to handle, the resident can transfer to a memory care community or skilled nursing, depending on their needs.

Assisted living communities offer residents a blend of housing, care, and daily assistance. All activities are approached in a way that helps seniors become stronger, healthier, and more active. The goal of each assisted living community is to help seniors maintain their independence as long as possible, providing help only when needed. So, in contrast to nursing homes, assisted living communities are ideal settings for seniors who can handle most tasks in daily life and aren’t in need of constant care.

One of the main reasons for confusion on what exactly an assisted living community entails is that there is not single definition applied to communities across all 50 states. This means communities may offer differing levels of care, so it’s key that you research the communities in your area carefully and determine if their services match your needs and wants.

Assisted living provides a number of great opportunities for seniors who choose this option. Explore some of these benefits below.

See what life is like in an assisted living community.

Sign up your senior loved one for a free 60-day stay in a community today.

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Memory Care

Many assisted living communities offer a special level of care for those who are struggling with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. These communities offer memory care and living arrangements specifically designed with these seniors in mind. The residences are safe and staff members are specially trained to care for seniors with memory impairment.

Some seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia still prefer to live among the general population. That choice can definitely work for some time, but specialized care is ideal as their memory loss progresses. So, these seniors could start out in a regular assisted living environment and eventually to move to these specific memory care areas to receive the care they need.

Attention to Personal Care

Assisted living communities offer a level of personal care that hospitals and nursing homes may struggle to compete with. Staff members provide supervision and help with medication management, meal services, transportation to doctor’s appointments and social activities. Each staff member is dedicated to making seniors’ lives easier, safer, and healthier.

Assisted living communities act as a transitional point between living at home independently and living in a nursing home. While a nursing home provides residents with continuous care and around-the-clock supervision, assisted living communities only step in when residents need help with the daily activities of life. For example, you have your own apartment to yourself. This is your private area, but if you needed help showering twice a week, you could have an aid come help you. If you can drive but struggle cooking your own meals, the meal plan, built into your rent at most assisted living communities, will take care of that problem for you. This means seniors receive the precise care they need, while still maintaining their independence. However, seniors aren’t wholly on their own like living independently at home, either. They have access to care and emergency services as needed, in case they have an illness or accident like a fall.

Residents and Sense of Community

One challenge that many seniors face is a sense of loneliness, especially if they live at home and rarely drive. Being cooped up at home can make seniors feel like they’re missing out on relationships with friends and family, and activities that keep them busy. Other seniors may not even be able to recognize their isolation because it's been going on for so long. 

With assisted living, seniors not only find a comfortable place to live, they also find a community where they can socialize daily. Seniors benefit from the relationships built with other residents, especially since they can connect with other seniors who are facing the same medical, cognitive, or physical challenges they face.

Many assisted living communities offer a number of ways for seniors to get involved, from gardening clubs to chess classes. There is always something for seniors to do and ways for residents to get to know those who live near them. In contrast to seniors who live alone, there’s no need to travel to socialize. All of these opportunities are right outside their apartment door, though fun out-trips are often scheduled as well!

In addition to interacting with fellow residents, individuals living in assisted living can build relationships with dedicated care providers. This is especially beneficial for those seniors in need of memory care, as it makes them feel more comfortable even though their surroundings can be confusing at times. Staff members are often kind and caring, helping residents to build a warm, home-like environment that can be hard to find in places like nursing homes or hospitals.

The best way to determine if an assisted living community is the right choice for your senior loved one is to schedule a visit. This allows you to see apartment styles and meet the residents and staff members. You’ll have a better idea if this will be comfortable environment for your loved one. 

To get to know these communities even better, some assisted living communities offer potential residents a trial stay. So, for a set amount of time, like 60 or 90 days, seniors can stay in the assisted living community and find out if this is truly the right place for them. We want to note that trial stays are not recommended for seniors with cognitive impairment, as the adjustment period may take longer and the transition too and from may cause a lot of stress. We recommend finding a community you feel comfortable with and commit to staying there for at least six months, to have the best experience and get a real taste of the community.  

Now that you know more about what assisted living is, you have a better idea if this is the best choice for your loved one. If they want to maintain an independent lifestyle but have access to the care they need and the socialization and dining they want, assisted living is the right option.

See what life is like in an assisted living community. Sign up your senior loved one for a free 60-day stay in a community today.

Learn More!

About Chelsea Sayegh

I started working as a Marketing Coordinator for United Methodist Homes in October of 2016. I work on public relations, website management and community planning for their award winning independent and assisted living communities. As a graduate of Ursinus College with a degree in Media and Communications and a passion for serving nonprofits, United Methodist Homes has become my home away from home. I spend my days working in a community filled with smiling faces, helpful hands and wonderful residents. I have a passion for assisting seniors and take great pride in being able to promote a company with such a positive mission and values. As an individual committed to learning and growing, I have jumped right into this exciting career!

Our Blog is a 2016 Platinum Generations Award Winner! The Generations Award is an annual international competition for excellence in senior marketing recognizing professionals who have communicated to the 50+ Mature Markets.