What Care is Provided for Senior Assisted Living?
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Assisted living facilities differ in such details as number of residents, housing style, type of food service, extra amenities, and cost. Licensed facilities provide the basics of all meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation to errands and appointments, recreational activities, and exercise and wellness programs. They also provide help when needed for activities of daily living, and some medical assistance.
The following is a description of the services provided in most licensed senior assisted living facilities.
Safety and security
One of the most valuable things that assisted living facilities can offer to senior residents is the safety and security of 24-hour support and access to care if needed. This full-time emergency call system gives residents the ability to be as independent as possible, without the fear of injury or debilitating illness that could be fatal when living alone. New digital health and monitoring technologies are utilized in some senior residences to track residents’ personal care habits and activities. This monitoring helps alert staff to changes in residents’ health, and makes it easier for caregivers to anticipate residents’ needs.
Some assisted living facilities that specialize in patients with mild dementia, Alzheimers, or other conditions affecting memory have monitoring systems in all common areas and the surrounding property as well, to help prevent resident wandering.
Personal Care/Assistance with Daily Activities
Most assisted living facilities offer approximately two hours of assistance with activities of daily living per day for each resident. In most senior assisted living residences caregivers are available 24 hours a day to help with personal care activities. Residents can set up a schedule for routine personal care such as getting dressed in the morning, eating meals, or an evening bath, and there are always caregivers available to meet unscheduled needs as well. Many facilities provide on-site pharmacy, physical therapy, salon services for residents, and a staff member to help schedule and coordinate appointments.
Housekeeping and Laundry Services
Housekeeping staff are available to provide emergency cleanup services 24 hours a day (for spills, toileting accidents, and so on). In addition, residents can expect weekly housekeeping services including vacuuming, dusting, cleaning bathrooms and kitchens, changing bed linens, and washing and folding laundry.
Dining styles provided in assisted living communities may be cafeteria style, room delivery, or similar to dining in a full-service restaurant. Many facilities customize menu offerings to residents in consideration of personal tastes, medical conditions, and dietary restrictions. Menu selections vary from day to day and meal to meal, and are created to be both nutritionally balanced and satisfying to senior palates.
Social Activity, Entertainment, and Wellness
Most facilities provide common living areas such as small libraries, café areas, and gaming rooms for casual social activity. They also provide a calendar of more structured social activities such as gardening clubs, book discussion groups, or movie viewings. Most residents can also choose to engage in activities off-site, such as mall-walking or theatre outings, for which group transportation is provided by the facility.
Most good senior communities also have fitness rooms and provide wellness classes such as water aerobics, yoga, tai chi, and walking groups.
Residents of senior assisted living communities can have access to their own cars, take advantage of scheduled outings such as shopping or entertainment trips, or schedule individual chauffeured transportation as needed for appointments, classes, or errands.
Health Care Services
Assisted living is not a medical model of senior living care, but some health care services, customized to residents’ specific needs, are provided. Emergency first aid, medication management, pharmacy services, and medical records maintenance services are usually offered to residents. Most facilities also have a staff physician or nurse who visits residents regularly to provide medical checkups.
There is no single blueprint for assisted living facilities, as resident needs and preferences vary considerably. All good assisted living communities help senior residents enjoy independence and a good quality of life by providing basic health care assistance, personal care, housekeeping, transportation, and a variety of social and recreational opportunities.
For information about long-term care planning, visit the Administration on Aging (AoA). For concerns about the care provided by a facility, visit the National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center.