What is Assisted Living?

by Carolyn Wilson-Scott

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If you're reading this article, it's probable that either you or one of your loved ones is in need of an increased amount of care in their daily lives. Making a senior care decision isn't easy, but finding the right option can dramatically reduce your stress level and result in an improved quality of life.

When Should You Consider Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a senior care option that falls on the spectrum between independent living and nursing care. While residents of independent living facilities often make the move in order to enjoy a community of their peers, residents of assisted living need help with some aspect of their personal care, such as grooming, bathing, or toileting. These facilities may also provide some of the social programming of an independent living set-up, but their main attraction is their ability to provide assistance.

For some, the move is prompted by a gradual decline in their ability to care for themselves; others go this route after an accident or surgery hampers their functionality. In the case of the latter, the move may be short-term, only for the period of recovery.

What's the Difference between Assisted Living and a Nursing Home?
Assisted living facilities don't provide the medical services of a nursing home, though they may be able to help with things like reminding residents to take medications. One of the most attractive features of this type of care is that residents are able to be more independent than they would be in a nursing home. Many facilities include individual apartments, complete with kitchenettes, providing residents with a great deal of privacy and autonomy. Of course, meals are provided for those who can't, or who prefer not to, do their own cooking.

Is Assisted Living Right for Me?
Here are some guidelines to determine if this option is the best fit for you or your loved one:

  • Level of Medical Care: The amount of medical care a facility can provide varies from state to state, but if you or your loved one requires consistent medical attention, or has a chronic medical condition, then a nursing home is a better senior care option. However, if your medical needs are less intensive, like shot administration, don't count this out, since some facilities allow residents to contract out for such services.
  • Level of Independence: This is designed for people who want to retain as much of their independence as possible but who could benefit from support that's available 24 hours a day.
  • Cost: Many insurance policies don't cover assisted living fees, but the good news is that it's usually cheaper than other senior care alternatives, like home care or a nursing home.