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Independent living, Assisted living, Group Homes, Skilled Nursing care and Memory care

Independent living communities are excellent options for many people that can be relatively independent in an apartment or cottage. They offer maintenance free living with many options to socialize with other independent seniors. There are generally many activities available and in many cases there are transportation services for those who no longer drive.

There are several different types of assisted living options to consider:

One is traditional assisted living in a larger assisted living community. In this type of community you traditionally have an apartment like setting with communal dining and larger activity options. This option is perfect for a person or couple that can still manage somewhat independently and is safe in an apartment. 

group home is an assisted living community that houses between 5-10 people and generally can provide a higher level of care than a larger assisted living community because of its size, staffing ratio, and the staff’s close proximity to all the residents at the community. Many Group homes can provide care at near skilled nursing levels in a home like atmosphere. This option is perfect for those residents that need a little more assistance or supervision. Group homes are generally less expensive then larger assisted living communities.

If you have substantial medical needs, you would need to consider either a skilled nursing facility or a specialized group home that can provide the level of medical care you need. 

Memory Care is generally broken into several different types in assisted living. Larger communities with memory care units of between 15- 20 residents, stand-alone communities with larger populations and Group homes that specialize in memory care. Each option has its merits and the best option for each client is best determined by their individual needs and financial ability to pay.

WAYS IN WHICH ASSISTED LIVING PROVIDERS DIFFER
❖ Facility size;
❖ Staff qualifications;
❖ Location;
❖ Fees, what is included in the monthly fee varies widely;
❖ Sponsorship: non-profit vs. for profit vs. religious affiliation;
❖ Free standing facility vs. a campus type setting;
❖ Experience and reputation of provider;
❖ Private room vs. semi-private room;
❖ Private bathroom vs. common bathroom;
❖ Provider participation in Medical Assistance;
❖ Ability to age in place: levels of care, potential for level of care waivers;
❖ Visiting hours; bedtimes; wake-up times; mealtimes.

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A move to assisted living, even if all parties are in agreement, can be a stressful time. Here are some of the ways you can support a loved one:

  • Acknowledge your loved one’s feelings of loss. Even in the best of situations—where your loved one willingly chose assisted living—grief and feelings of loss are to be expected. Leaving one’s home is a huge upheaval. Don’t minimize their feelings or focus excessively on the positive. Sympathize and respect feelings of loss and give them time to adjust.
  • Call and visit as often as you can. Regular contact from friends and family will reassure your loved one that they’re still loved and cared for. Continue to include your loved one in family outings and events whenever possible. If your loved one lives far away, regular calls or emails can make a big difference.
  • Work through concerns together. Your loved one will likely go through a period of adjustment after moving into an assisted living facility, If your loved one has concerns, take them seriously. Talk about what steps you can take together to resolve the issue.
  • Help your loved one personalize their living space. Help your loved one choose and bring over the meaningful possessions and decorations that will give the new living space the feeling of home. But be careful not to take over. Let your loved one take the lead. He or she is going to be the one living there, after all.

Suggestions For Friends and Relatives

 

DO:

  • If requested, help with the sorting, packing, and moving.
  • Listen as your loved one talks about what they left behind.
  • Be helpful even if you do not agree with the decision to move.
  • Recognize that moving to a new home represents a major change.
  • Call and visit often during the first few weeks.
  • Be positive. A smile, support, patience, and understanding are required.

DON'T:

  • Make all the decisions or take over the sorting, packing, and moving process.
  • Focus only on yourselves. This is about the resident moving, not you!
  • Criticize the decision to move into assisted living.
  • Make light of the transition.
  • Immediately talk about selling the resident’s house.
  • Make promises that you cannot keep.
  • Be negative.

Source: National Center for Assisted Living

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The most important factor when choosing an assisted living facility is that it feels friendly, safe, and comfortable to you. While the facility should be clean and well maintained, don’t place too much emphasis on surface appeal, such as designer furnishings, gourmet meals, and impeccable grounds. The facility you’ll be happiest at won’t necessarily be the most fancy or expensive. The bottom line is that the right facility for you is the facility where you feel most at home.

Does it feel like home to you? This is a personal preference. Do you prefer a smaller, cozier environment, or would you rather be in a larger, bustling place with more activities? Is outside design, such as gardens or other greenery, important to you?

Does the facility offer activities you’re interested in? Are there hobbies or activities on site, or transportation available to outside ones? Does the facility have amenities that are important to you such as a gym, recreation center, library, or a chapel?

Is the food appealing to you? Do you have the option of eating in your room if you would like to? What kinds of food are served? Is it nutritious and appetizing? Are their different food options available?

How are health problems handled? How does the facility handle both emergency and non-emergency problems? If you develop a medical condition, will you be able to remain at the facility? At what point would you be required to move elsewhere for medical care?

Is the facility in compliance with state and local licensing requirements? In the U.S., each state has different standards, so you will want to check with your local regulatory agency to make sure that the facility is licensed and in compliance. You can also check the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged against the facility.

Choosing the right assisted living facility for you

There is a huge variation among assisted living facilities. While this can make the process of choosing seem daunting, the plus side is that you have a good chance of finding a facility that is perfectly suited to your preferences and needs.

As you start your search, try not to get overwhelmed by all the options. Remember, amenities matter much less than the residents and staff. It’s the people that truly make any place, including an assisted living facility. You can tell a lot about a facility by the people who live and work there. You want a facility with an active social atmosphere—where the residents are friendly and the staff is caring and warm. Make sure that, overall, you feel the facility is a place where you will fit in and develop new relationships.

Choosing an assisted living facility or group home

What to look for in the staff:

  • Do they have time to speak with you or does it feel rushed?
  • Do they appear genuinely interested in you?
  • Do they interact warmly with current residents?
  • How do they handle emergencies?

What to look for in the residents:

  • Do they appear happy?
  • Do they enjoy interacting with one another?
  • Do they seem like people you’d enjoy getting to know?
  • Are there hobbies or groups on site that look interesting to you?