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Is it Time for Assisted Living?

  • Category: General Info
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Matt Gougler
Is it Time for Assisted Living?

People today are living longer than ever; that longevity, however, can be accompanied by challenges. Many older adults, for example, find the tasks of daily living – such as cooking, cleaning, and driving – to be overwhelming. When that's the case, alternative living arrangements might be appropriate.

One option is an assisted living facility. Currently, there are more that 30,000 assisted living communities in the United States, and over one-million Americans call these facilities home.

National Assisted Living Week is Sept. 9-15. ATRIO Health Plans is supporting this educational effort by increasing awareness about assisted living and who should consider this option.

What is Assisted Living?

If you've seen one assisted living facility, you most certainly haven't seen them all. That's because licensing and regulatory requirements vary from state to state.

That said, there are general characteristics shared by most assisted living facilities. A good starting point is to distinguish assisted living from a nursing home. Residents in a nursing home usually have complex healthcare conditions requiring around-the-clock care and monitoring by skilled medical professionals.

In contrast, the needs of residents in an assisted living community are limited to assistance with the tasks of daily living. Although there are exceptions, the majority of assisted living facilities offer:

  • 24-hour supervision and security;
  • Three meals daily;
  • Basic housekeeping;
  • Laundry services;
  • Health and exercise programs;
  • Social activities;
  • Transportation.

When Should Assisted Living be Considered?

While there aren't etched-in-stone rules regarding when assisted living should be considered, some signs that a conversation could be in order include:

  • Difficulty navigating daily life–With each passing year, what once were seemingly simple tasks – making meals, tidying rooms, doing laundry, paying bills – can become insurmountable challenges. Evidence can take the form of dirty dishes, unwashed clothes, and a generally dusty-dirty house.
  • Frequently sustaining injuries–Frequent injuries from falling, slipping, or dropping items – regardless if the injuries are minor or severe – pose a serious, potentially life-threatening danger.
  • Noticeable weight loss–A significant loss of weight can indicate that preparing meals has become problematic, or there could be a loss of appetite due to an underlying medical issue.
  • Increasing isolation–Actively avoiding social interaction and electing to be isolated can be as damaging to a senior's health as an actual illness. This type of withdrawal can be prompted by depression or other mental-health issues.
  • Inability to manage medication–While some degree of memory loss and cognitive decline often accompanies aging, if the ability to manage one's medications is impacted the consequences can be dire.
  • Dangerous decline in driving ability–If an older adult is anxious about driving, or is behaving in a dangerous manner behind the wheel, the outcome can be deadly.
  • Disregard for personal appearance and hygiene–If a senior is unkempt – unwashed hair, body odor, dirty clothing – he or she clearly needs help with these tasks.

Next Steps

If you, or a loved one is exhibiting several of the signs outlined above, a conversation about assisted living likely is in order. From there, a good starting point is the Eldercare Locator which directs you to the closest Area Agency on Aging office and your state's long-term care ombudsman’s office.