January 18, 2021

Assisted Living: The Basics

Assisted Living: The Basics

As you or your family members age, there may come a time where assisted living services are required. This is incredibly common, as sometimes aging hinders or prevents you from completing daily tasks on your own, and you may feel you or a loved one needs more full-time help and care. Assisted living is one answer to this. Before you decide whether this is the right decision for you or a loved one, it is important to understand what it is and how it can help you. We will take a look at some of the basics of assisted living. 

What is an assisted living facility?

Simply put, an assisted living facility provides a home for elderly adults, where they can receive support and assistance in a huge variety of daily tasks, as well as medical support and daily activities. A good assisted living facility will encourage the involvement of community and family and have the aim of increasing quality of life at the heart of everything it does. It will also offer top-quality care, providing assistance whenever it is needed.

If you aren’t too sure what you should be looking for in an assisted living facility, the following are all great attributes. A great facility should be able to offer many services, including management of medication, personal appearance care and housekeeping, and laundry. They should aim to maximize the dignity and autonomy of their residents and personalize their care as much as possible. Autonomy means freedom and independence and the ability to make a decision without coercion. It is a huge part of many people’s lives, and many really value it, being unwilling to give it up. An assisted living facility that aims to maximize their residents’ autonomy can make a huge difference to the residents. Furthermore, many offer a huge range of recreational activities and programs, including art, music, wellness, and theater, and an all-day dining menu that caters to a huge range of diets and tastes.

Why choose assisted living?

There are many reasons why assisted living may be an appropriate option for you or your loved one. It may be that home care is no longer an option due to worsening health or the need for further medical care and support. There may also be other factors such as illness or mobility involved, and you will be able to receive plenty of guidance and support from the professionals. ADLs, or activities of daily living, are six self-care tasks that the majority of people complete on their own, with no assistance. However, as you age, you may find these harder to complete alone and need help from another person. The ADLs and IADLs can be useful in gauging an individual’s independence and assessing with a more mature person should continue living alone or if some assistance may be required.

The six activities of daily living are:

  • Bathing
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Transferring
  • Continence
  • Feeding

The individual is asked to complete these tasks, with each task completed without assistance, supervision, or direction receiving a point. If all 6 of these tasks can be completed, then the individual has ‘full function’ and can independently take physical care of themselves, therefore not requiring assistance. Completion of 4 of the 6 equates to ‘moderate impairment,’ and some assistance may be required. When you or a loved one can only complete two or less, it is time to consider longer-term care, which is where assisted living, or some of the alternative care options, come in. This is considered ‘severe functional impairment’ and means that the individual relies on others to care for them.

There are also a further 8 IADLs, Instrumental Activities of Daily Living, that can also be assessed. These measure a larger range of activities that are needed for independent living within a community, as well as helping to spot disabilities that the ADL scale alone may not reveal:

These are assessed by providing an ability level under each of the eight activities, and the individual chooses the one that best applies to them and matches what they are able to do. Each number has a point value, and these are added to give an overall score that can help to decide what level of assistance may be required.

Who can live in an assisted living facility? 

Assisted living is for mature adults who need assistance in everyday tasks such as the ADLs and for whom at-home care is no longer an option. It is an incredibly common option, as the majority of adults experience some kind of increasing inability in many of the ADL areas and require increasing levels of support and care. It is best to contact the experts and discuss options with them, as they will have plenty of experience and will be able to make recommendations and suggestions.

Other options

There are plenty of other options for individuals who require extra support. Respite Care, Memory Care, and Independent Living are all alternatives that will suit different needs, requirements, and levels of ability. Respite Care allows home caregivers to rest and take time for themselves while knowing that their loved one is being cared for to a high level in a great assisted living community. These are short term stays that allow a change and break for both you and your loved one. They also allow you or your loved one to explore the assisted living options that are available to you, which may help make some decisions easy if further and long-term care is needed.

Memory Care is aimed at those suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia, in which residents live in a secure and safe environment and are monitored closely by professionally trained staff. Again, the focus is on increasing the quality of life, encouraging family and community involvement, and maximizing the autonomy and dignity of the residents.  

Independent living allows residents to live independently until they require assistance in something, in which case, is available when they need it. It is often a resort-like living community, with plenty of social activities, medical care, and support when it is required. There may also be the option for residents to cook their own meals or a restaurant-style dining experience. 

There are plenty of options available that you can choose from, to ensure that you and your loved ones get the best and most appropriate support available. It is important to consult the experts and do your research when making these choices, as they will be able to recommend the best courses of action and answer any questions or queries you or your loved one may have. 

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