Choosing the right care community for your loved one can be a long process. There are many different areas to compare between communities, and you want to make sure wherever you decide is a perfect fit. To be confident in your decision, you can do your best to find assisted living that offers all of the core amenities every modern establishment should have.
Assisted living communities can help with chores and meal preparation, offer a safe environment, and provide medical supervision for those who need it. These communities allow more independence than a nursing home and are focused on the importance of helping aging individuals stay active. They even have a variety of entertainment options, such as group activities and holiday events. If you’re looking for a safe place to house your aging parent that offers all their favorite pastimes, then take a closer look at assisted living.
The Difference Between a Nursing Home and Assisted Living Communities
Today’s senior care communities are warm, welcoming, and can feel just like home once residents get settled in. Most communities offer a safe environment, help with medication management, and assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs). Although a friendly atmosphere is almost universal, the services at each type of community can vary greatly. For example, a nursing home provides very different care than an assisted living community .
If you’re trying to determine what level of care is right for your family member, there are a few key differences you should keep in mind.
- Nursing homes are for older adults who require continual medical care or have serious medical issues. These communities employ skilled nursing care and might even have visiting doctors regularly check in on the patients. The residents in these communities sometimes need help with basic functions like bathing, toileting, or getting dressed. Nursing homes are ideal for people who need round-the-clock nursing care and significant medical attention to continue living comfortably. The layout of these communities is similar to that of a hospital, simply because of the nature of the services provided. It’s not uncommon for residents to share their living quarters with another person, which can help provide companionship and forge friendships.
- Assisted living is ideal for people who can still care for themselves, but living alone is no longer a safe option. Instead of intensive medical attention, assisted living offers services closer to custodial and personal care. In addition to assistance with dressing, toileting, and activities of daily living, these communities are ideal for people who have reduced mobility and need a little extra help getting around. Those with memory loss or Alzheimer’s also do well in assisted living because they’re in a safe environment where they’re less likely to become disoriented. Residents in these communities typically have their own apartment-style living quarters, complete with a dining area and kitchenette. The layout of these communities resembles an apartment complex or college community to promote social interactions and help the area feel like home. Assisted living is a great option if your loved one needs some help throughout the day but still enjoys a certain level of independence.
Moving from home care to long-term care can be a tough decision, so keep in mind which services would best contribute to your relative’s quality of life. Include them as you weigh care options and do your best to choose a community that can meet all of their needs, both now and in the future.
Do They Help Out With Household Chores?
Your parents spent a lifetime cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, and running errands. Their golden years shouldn’t be spent dealing with all those same daily tasks. Assisted living communities have professional services to address all of the mundane chores so your loved one can focus on things that make them happy.
Gone are the days of worrying about mopping floors and keeping the fridge stocked. In assisted living communities , staff members help with everything from dusting the rooms to changing the bedsheets, and even cleaning the bathroom. Removing the stress and hazard of cleaning an entire house can allow more time for healthy and fun activities.
Along with housekeeping, most communities also offer laundry services. This isn’t only a convenient perk of assisted living, but also a measure of safety. Some older adults have trouble bending over to lift heavy loads of wet clothes out of the washing machine. With the help of on-site laundry services, all your loved one has to do is hand off a laundry bag (often picked up weekly) of their clothes or request fresh towels.
Another amenity of senior living is the group dining experience. Instead of having to make grocery lists, run to the store, and cook their own meals, an assisted living community allows your loved one the ease of simply strolling over to the dining hall. The kitchen provides meals and snacks to the residents, so they don’t have to bother with expending any energy over an oven. There are indoor and outdoor areas to have your meals, plus various options to fit any type of diet or food preference.
Do They Help You Stay Active?
As the body ages, staying active is essential for older individuals to maintain good physical condition and general wellness. That’s why senior living communities offer a variety of options for residents to work their muscles. There are a few important exercises all communities should offer to keep up with some common problems of aging: stretching to combat shortening muscles, low-impact workouts to address decreased bone density, and cardio exercises to keep the cardiovascular system in good shape.
Most retirement communities boast on-site fitness centers to help residents continue their self-directed workout routines. These areas are stocked with safe machines such as treadmills, recumbent bikes or Nu-Steps , or weight machines. They might even offer some light dumbbells and free weights for those who like to work on muscle tone.
Common areas like a courtyard or activity room can be used for weekly exercise classes. Senior yoga or an upbeat aerobics class can help assisted living residents keep their muscles loose and heart strong. These same areas could also be used for recreational activities, such as puzzles, game nights, or trivia lunches for memory care. They could even be a meeting place for walking groups, bird watching clubs, or a fun game of bean bag baseball..
Many care communities also offer specialized health care services for active adults. There might be an on-site physical therapist to help with stretching particular muscles, easing pain points, or other focused physical training. These professionals can be especially helpful if you’ve just had a joint replaced, need rehabilitative services, or want help regaining some function and independence. It’s not uncommon for licensed health instructors, yoga practitioners, or other exercise professionals to stop in and lend a hand too.
Can You Get Dinner and a Show?
Just because your loved one is in assisted living doesn’t mean they have to miss out on arts and culture. Aside from scheduled outings, many senior care communities also include a schedule packed with entertainment and events.
At holidays, the dining room might be turned into an elegant restaurant for Christmas dinner or a sunny spot for Easter brunch. For those ready to wake with the sunrise, there could be an open-air farmer’s market outside. Some places even take advantage of the fall and winter weather by hosting their own Oktoberfest or Christmas wonderland!
Other entertainment options could include an on-site movie theater or community movie nights, special dances with music from the decades, or even the ever-popular bingo evening.
What About Self Care in Senior Living?
Living in a senior community doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself from time to time. If your loved one enjoys things like going to the beauty salon, sitting at a coffee shop, or using the local library, they’ll still feel right at home in assisted living. Many communities include these types of resources for their residents as extra care services.
Weatherly Inn, for example, has on-site hair salons for people who enjoy having someone else pamper them once in a while. There’s also a coffee shop with WiFi access conveniently on campus. Residents can stop by the community library, pick up a book and head over to enjoy a delicious drink and a good story. Or they can meet their friends or activity groups there for some small talk and catching up.
Like many other assisted living communities, Weatherly Inn also offers a community chapel residents can visit. This offers an outlet for those who are religious or a quiet place for people to sit and reflect. Having a quiet, reverent space is often helpful for promoting the overall well-being of community members.
What Are the Living Spaces Like?
Unless you’re considering a specialized community, most of the assisted living communities you find will have a few different levels of care, each with their own options. Two common situations are:
- Independent living. In this set-up, residents are more or less resuming their normal lifestyle. They often have private apartment-style living quarters, complete with kitchens and access to the group areas and activities. This option is great for an older adult looking to downsize or for more companionship through a community.
- Assisted living. This option is for people who require regular checkups from caregivers. They might need some help getting around, assistance remembering which medications to take, or simply aren’t able to take care of themselves completely. These communities are a good fit for someone who isn’t safe living alone or prefers a group setting.
Both independent living and assisted living communities come with a host of options for living quarters. You can choose between studios, one, two or three-bedroom apartments all of varying sizes and layouts to ensure you feel right at home. Pricing will vary based on size and amenities in your unit, so be sure you consider where you’ll be spending your time when making your decision.
What’s Included and What’s Not?
The cost of assisted living is often a difficult factor for families, as the overall expense might feel overwhelming. It’s important to remember, though, that the majority of amenities mentioned will be included in your final bill. So you aren’t just paying for a one-bedroom apartment and a weekly nurse’s visit; you’re also paying for a Christmas pageant and a movie screening and all the other activities your loved one will enjoy.
Some costs, however, might not be automatically included in your bill. Be sure to ask about services that might be an extra charge, such as the beauty salon, a cup of coffee in the café, or physical therapy sessions. Anything outside of the normal routine could potentially be added to your statement at the end of the month.
To help cover some of the costs, many people purchase some type of care insurance. If you don’t have one of these policies, certain Medicare or Medicaid plans will also contribute to long-term care. To learn more about those policies, you can visit medicare.gov to see what assistance they offer, or reach out to a Weatherly Inn Senior Living Advisor.
Assisted Living Communities Should Feel Like Home
It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the amenities senior living has to offer, but don’t let that pull your mind from the most important factor: does it feel like home? You want to find a place with a caring staff that allows your loved one to continue life as they know it instead of adjusting to a whole new way of living. At Weatherly Inn, that’s exactly what everyone is trained for.
Things like allowing residents to maintain their independence by being allowed to come and go in their own vehicle, free transportation for those who can no longer drive, allowing pets at the community, and being located in a wonderful neighborhood to enjoy are all signs of a great community.
We know selecting the perfect assisted living situation for your loved one can be challenging, which is why we’ve created a helpful cheat sheet. Download our free guide to finding the right senior living for your loved ones.