As the number of aging baby boomers increases, thousands of older adults are choosing to move to assisted living communities rather than “age in place” at home. But despite its growing popularity, many older adults and their families still don’t know about the benefits of moving to assisted living or understand how it differs from other types of senior care communities. If you’re ready to start looking at assisted living communities for yourself or an older loved one, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Assisted living communities are not the same as nursing homes
Many people use the terms “assisted living” and “nursing home” interchangeably, but there are some important distinctions to understand about these two types of senior care communities.
Assisted living is an ideal living solution for older adults who are relatively independent but may need some extra support with daily activities such as grooming, dressing, or managing their medications. Nursing homes, which are now more commonly known as skilled nursing facilities, are intended for older adults who need a higher level of care and cannot live independently. Older adults living in skilled nursing facilities have access to 24-hour assistance and ongoing medical attention from licensed nurses.
Assisted living provides customized care solutions
Residents in assisted living communities receive special care plans that are tailored to fit their individual needs, which allows them to maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible. In assisted living, residents’ care needs are assessed regularly, which enables caregivers to adjust for any changes in the level of support and assistance they require. If a medical emergency should arise, older adults and their families can have peace of mind knowing that a licensed nurse is on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
All assisted living communities are unique
No two assisted living communities are exactly alike. From architecture to interior design, assisted living communities can vary greatly in their look and feel. Different assisted living communities also offer different types of amenities and services, which may include on-campus restaurants, transportation services, housekeeping, and even beauty salons and barber shops.
There’s also a significant difference between nonprofit and for-profit assisted living communities. Most for-profit communities are owned by large, national corporate chains, whereas nonprofit assisted living communities are privately owned, and many are associated with religious organizations. When visiting nearby assisted living communities, be sure to ask about the community’s mission and values.
Assisted living gives older adults more freedom
Some seniors are apprehensive about moving to assisted living because they believe it will limit their freedom. The truth is, assisted living can actually give older adults a greater level of freedom than if they lived alone. In assisted living, residents live a more maintenance-free lifestyle and enjoy the convenience of housekeeping and landscaping services, freshly prepared meals, and even transportation services. With less time spent on household chores, cooking, and maintenance, residents have the freedom and flexibility to spend their days however they choose!
Assisted living makes it easier to form new friendships
It can be difficult for older adults to make new friends and stay socially connected, especially for seniors who live alone. By moving to an assisted living community, older adults have endless opportunities to meet new people and form friendships with others who share their interests and hobbies. With common areas and scheduled activities and events for residents each day, assisted living makes it easy for older adults to socialize and create lasting friendships.