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  What is Assisted Living?
  Choosing Assisted Living
  Benefits of Placement Services
  Seniors and Kids
  Checklist for a Visit
  When Is It Time for Assisted Living
  Costs of Assisted Living
  Veteran's Benefits
  Deciding on Assisted Living
  Caring For Aging Parents
  How To Know When It's Time For Assisted Living
  Not A Nursing Home



What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living facilities offer another choice. They are suitable for those who can no longer live alone, and yet do not require the complex medical services that are provided in a nursing home.


Assisted living is an exciting option for seniors who need some help with activities of daily living yet want to retain as much independence and privacy as possible.

Meals, laundry and housekeep are standard as are a variety of activities and outings.

Assisted living facilities are licensed and regulated by individual states, which explains why there can be differences in terminolgy and services in different areas of the country.

Residents of assisted living can have the independence they want while they know that supportive services are available should they need them. The apartment type residences are appealing as they are more like a family style residence. The units often have living rooms, bedrooms, baths, and sometimes a small dining area and kitchenette. Residents often bring their own furniture which makes it seem more like home.

Some assisted living facilities are associated with retirement communities. Others, affiliated with nursing care homes, are called continual care communities.

Assisted living facilities focus mainly on assisting with the activities of daily living (sometimes called ADLs), such as dressing, bathing, toileting, etc. In some states, assisted living facilities can offer medication assistance and other reminders. Some residents may have memory disorders including Alzheimer's, or they may need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges. Residents are assessed upon move in, or any time there is a change in condition. The assessment is used to develop an Individualized Service Plan.

Assisted living facilities are regulated at the state level. The guidelines and standards are different for each state.

The cost of assisted living, which is less expensive than nursing care, is generally covered by private funds. Some insurance policies for long-term care will help to cover the cost of assisted living. Medicaid funds are generally not available for assisted living, but check with your state agencies as there may be some exceptions. The costs generally vary with the apartment size, amenities and the personal services needed. Most facilities ask for a month to month lease, but some may require a longer commitment.

Most assisted living facilities offer a wide range of activities to enhance the residents quality of life. Activities staff will often assess the senior's interests and needs and make suggestions for appropriate activities. Many outings are planned, with the facility providing the transportation.

As you begin your search for a senior living community, think about your current needs and also think ahead for what might be needed in the future. Here is an excellent directory of assisted living facilities in all 50 states. Make a list of questions to ask as you visit a variety of facilities. The following it items to be considered before making a final choice on an assisted living facility:

1. Find out about the services provided in order to find a good "match" between the resident and the facility. It is helpful to have a list of the resident needs in order to make this determination. Get all your questions together and take a tour of an assisted living facility.

2. Find out about the qualifications and screening practices for staffing. Are there nurses and nursing assistants? What training is required for those who administer medications to the residents? Is the staff knowledgeable about geriatric care, such as falls prevention, incontinence care, skin care, and changes that can signal a serious illness? Are there background checks and screening by any government agencies to determine if an applicant has a criminal background and may be unsuitable for work with the elderly?

3. Is there a physician or nurse practitioner experienced in geriatrics on call if needed?

4. Is there a care assessment and a care plan designed for each resident? Is there a system in place to review the care plan periodically with the resident and/or the resident's family?

5. As if the assisted living facility has affiliations with local hospitals, home care, rehabilitation services, physical therapy and hospice. Find out if the assisted living facility can help in making the arrangements should any of these services be needed.

6. Consider using the resources of an assisted living referral service. It's free to you and working with these professionals can greatly help you through the process.

No matter what your individual situation is, it's a big decision and it is often stressful. While there are many changes when moving to assisted living, many of the them can be very rewarding. Family members who will help to select the best suited assisted living facility for the individual and help with the transition will make a big difference in the move to assisted living.

Learn as much as you can about all the senior housing options that are available in your area. Everything you read and each facility you visit will help you to get closer to determining your own need. There are adult family homes, retirement communities, board and care homes, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities and other options. With all these options, and maybe because there are so many choices, it can be overwhelming. There's nothing wrong with getting help.

A few of the services offered by assisted living placement services are:
1) Determining if Assisted Living is Right for You
2) Determining the level of care needed
3) Locating the home or facility best suited to your needs
4) Helping you to negotiate the lowest possible price for you and your family
5) Helping you with finanacial planning so that your resources can be used wisely to cover the costs involved
6) Ensuring that the facility you choose is able to handle any special needs that you may have.

There are a number of placement agencies that will be more than happy to help you sort through the maze and make the best choice for your loved one. This is their field of expertise and they are happy to share the knowledge they've gathered with you. A few of our favorites are A Place For Mom, Elderlink, and Assisted Living. In Southern California and Southern Arizona, one of our favorites is Assisted Living Placements. Most referral agencies (also called placement agencies) will provide their services free of charge.