Are you thinking of making a change in housing for yourself or a loved one soon? Do you or someone else need help with some daily activities, but still want to maintain as much independence as possible? Are you considering moving to an assisted living facility, but are unsure of what to do or how to choose? Here is some information about assisted living, which may answer your questions. Read on to learn more.
What is Assisted Living?
While there isn’t a specific definition as to what assisted living is, the words usually describe a living center or community that offers daily personal care and health care services, as well as housing for the long term. In recent years, you may have noticed that there has been an increase in facilities such as these. This is to match the demand of Baby Boomers heading into their golden years.
Different facilities offer a variety of accommodations, and there are many which will meet your needs and/or financial constraints. Be sure to tour several before making your final choice. Many centers offer both private apartments and shared quarters. Also, there are some which provide increasing services, so when or if a person’s medical needs increase, the resident can be moved to an individual room for closer observation and more healthcare assistance.
But no matter the size, type, or cost, all assisted living communities must follow state policies and licensing requirements. When choosing a location, be sure to review their website carefully. You should be able to find licensing numbers, regulations standards, and inspection summaries somewhere on the site. If these are not listed on the website, be sure to ask about them if you decide to tour the actual facility. Check if they’ve had any violations in the recent past.
Assisted Living vs. Independent Living
Be aware that the terms “assisted living” and “independent living” are not interchangeable. They are very different types of living situations.
Independent living communities are perfect for retired or semi-retired people who are still active and independent, but who want to connect with others who share common interests and are similar in age. These residents are no longer interested in managing home maintenance tasks such as cutting the lawn, cleaning, or doing the laundry. They prefer to use their time with companionship and for organized activities. Residents live in private apartments with living rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens. Hired staff take care of maintenance, etc.
Assisted living facilities offer services and living quarters to those who are unable to live on their own due to physical and/or cognitive limitations. Private apartments may be available in some assisted living communities, but residents opt for semi-private rooms or private studios most often. Healthcare staff is on-call and will help with everything from medical care to daily personal tasks like bathing, dressing, etc.
Senior Living Just Like Home
Throughout the past 20 years, healthcare professionals, interior designers, and those who specialize in geriatric medicine have changed the concept of what an assisted living facility should look and feel like. In the past, these centers were cold and impersonal and felt more like a hospital than a home. Today, the centers have many special touches to make them feel cozy and comfortable. Residents are encouraged to bring mementos, artwork, and even furniture from their previous homes to decorate their new quarters.
Trying to find the right place to live can be overwhelming for both the individual and the extended family. There may be questions regarding how much it will cost when it is the right time to move, and whether this is the best place for myself or my loved one. Before choosing a final location, here are some answers to frequently asked questions. But first, know that you’re not alone!
How Do You Find the Best Community?
When you begin to look at an array of facilities for your loved one, have an idea of what they want. Does your loved one prefer a wide-open, rural location, with views of rolling hills and greenery? Or do they enjoy the energy and bustle of city life and watching cars and people outside their windows? Do they want a private apartment? Or are they interested in sharing their living space?
Be sure to talk with your relatives and ask about their lifestyle, tastes, and preferences and where they will be happy and comfortable. Don’t choose a location just because YOU like it! Allow your loved one to feel in control of their own life and be included in the process.
Also, consider the future. If there is a possibility of dementia in your loved one, for example, look for a center that has a memory care unit that can manage their potential medical issues. If they have diabetes or other chronic conditions, ask about how – or if – they will help to handle those issues.
Be sure to bring others with you on the tours of each facility. Another set of eyes and ears with a family member or friend along is always helpful. They may notice something (both positive and negative) that you missed. Also, ask for referrals and input from co-workers, neighbors, and friends who have been through this process already. They may have ideas and suggestions you hadn’t thought about.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
Lavish furnishings, high prices, and lots of exceptional amenities do not always indicate good quality care. Don’t be swayed by surface issues and, as a result, make a decision too quickly. Read the fine print before signing any paperwork. Consider bringing it to an attorney first and ask for professional help in understanding the details.
Before your search begins, it’s essential to make a list of what your loved one wants, but it’s also important to know what they don’t want. What are the deal-breakers? Does the assisted living facility need to be within a particular area to be close to family and friends? Must it have housing on one level with no steps or elevators? What about pets? Are there restrictions as to whether you can have a dog or cat?
By taking the time to talk things over, asking for input from others, talking to an attorney and/or healthcare professional, you’ll be way ahead in the process of your search. It will be much easier for everyone involved.
Services in Assisted Living Communities
Depending on the community, the facility, and the residents, assisted living centers can vary greatly. However, here are some services that are the most common:
General Services: At the very minimum, the assisted living facility you choose should provide help to their residents with the core Activities of Daily Living, also known as ADLs. This refers to the daily life tasks that individuals need to perform or manage with just a small amount of assistance to independently live and function. These include bathing, toileting, dressing, eating, personal hygiene, transportation, communication, and medication management.
Lifestyle Services: These kinds of services are the most wide-ranging regarding assisted living. The services that a facility will offer are contingent upon the residents’ hobbies, budgets, and interests. Lifestyle services may include such things as the following: book clubs, art classes, wellness programs, religious services, exercise programs, music classes, pet-friendly areas, and groups going to local museums, restaurants, etc.
Safety Services: Well-run communities put the safety, health, and security of their residents and staff first. The buildings should have security systems with controlled access, emergency call systems, and round-the-clock nursing staff. Also, look for grab bars along hallways and in bathrooms, non-slip flooring, easy to reach light switches, etc.
Additional Services: In addition to the above service, many assisted living facilities offer services such as housekeeping, laundry services, meals, board or card games, gyms, common areas, pharmacies, libraries, barbershops, and hair salons.
Less Common Services
Culturally Diverse Options: Does your loved one have a specific cultural, dietary, spiritual, or language requirement? Some communities will cater their offerings to meet the unique needs of a local population. For your loved ones to feel comfortable, look for a Vegetarian, Asian, Christian, Jewish, Persian, LGBT, or Spanish speaking/focused community, or whatever specific requirement they may have.
Niche Lifestyle Communities: Niche communities are in high demand as Americans age and diversify. From boating, golf, or outdoor-oriented communities to foodies, book lovers, and more, many facilities are “themed” for their residents to enjoy their hobbies and lifestyles throughout their golden years with others who enjoy the same things.
Pet-Friendly Options: Does your loved one have a four-legged family member? Some communities will allow their residents to bring along their furry, feathered, or scaled friends to live with them. But be aware that pet policies can vary from place to place. Many pet-friendly centers will have strict breed, weight, and size requirements. Others host “pet interviews” to determine if an animal is a good fit. The management’s decision is final, so ask before signing an agreement to live there.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?
For many families, paying for an assisted living facility may be a challenge. Some families choose to combine resources with other relatives, many will leverage other assets, and some get creative to pay the monthly fees. A handful of families may be in a better financial position to pay for the high cost of quality long-term care out of pocket.
Across Southeastern Wisconsin, costs vary drastically and depend upon several factors:
Location: Where the assisted living facility is located is one of the most significant factors in cost. Centers in more desirable neighborhoods and high-end areas come with higher price tags. To find something more budget-friendly, consider a variety of places throughout the region.
Size: Another factor in the cost is the size of the apartment. Residents can choose a studio apartment, a one-bedroom, or a two-bedroom unit. Residents can also choose to share a room.
Services: The kinds of services needed for your loved one will also affect pricing. With minimal care, the cost will be less. A community with “a la carte” choices allows you to pick only the services you need and only pay for what services you use. But don’t overlook the opportunities of an all-inclusive center.
Other Ways to Reduce Costs
Many people get shocked when they first see the cost of senior care. However, there are three easy ways you can reduce their monthly expenses.
- Rent a smaller space. Even if your loved ones think they need a two-bedroom apartment, they may be surprised how comfortable they’ll be with just one bedroom. You can save a significant amount by getting a smaller, cozier unit.
- Share a Unit. Cut costs in half by sharing a room or apartment. However, before you transition your loved one to an assisted living facility, be sure to find a potential roommate who is compatible. It will make things easier for everyone.
- Level of Care. As stated earlier, the more services your loved one needs, the higher the costs may be. For example, nursing home care and memory care costs more than assisted living. If your parent or loved one doesn’t need as much help with daily living tasks, the costs will be lower.
A financial advisor can help you explore options and guide you to the best solution. Some assisted living centers have someone on staff who can also help. Make an appointment with a professional before signing any agreements.
When Is the Right Time to Move to An Assisted Living Community?
It can be a tough decision to make the transition from a home to an assisted living facility. It’s especially hard for adult children to convince their aging parent(s) that it may be time to move. The parent(s) may try to convince their child(ren) that they are healthy enough to live at home on their own. However, when the loved one is unable to manage the activities of daily living such as dressing, bathing, and cooking, it is the right time for some help.
Other signs are:
- Forgetting to check mail or pay bills
- Forgetting to eat or not eating regularly
- Showing signs of memory loss or confusion
- Not taking medication
- Incontinence, bed wetting, etc.
- Decreased mobility, loss of balance
- Loss of active relationships
- Recent accidents or decrease in driving ability
- Chronic health conditions
- Decreased housekeeping
- Slow recovery times
- Weight loss
- A decline in personal hygiene
- Increase in days without leaving the house; isolating themselves
- Stale or rotten food left on counters or in refrigerator
These are signs that may support your case and convince a hesitant sibling or parent. If a loved one frequently wanders or gets lost, becomes aggressive towards relatives or friends, or exhibits a condition known as Sundowning (agitated behavior that worsens throughout the day), you should consider talking as a family about making a move for the safety of everyone involved.
If issues like those on the above list persist, it’s time to transition your aging loved one from an independent living situation to an assisted living center. Additional help may be necessary if their needs become increasingly complex, or if you worry about his or her safety when you’re not with them. Finally, if you find yourself feeling angry or experiencing anxiety because of extreme stress (due to caring for the individual), it may be time to relinquish control to a health professional.
An Assisted Living Facility Can Help
For many families, an assisted living facility may be the best solution to a challenging problem. Once their loved one is adequately taken care of, these families can finally enjoy some peace of mind. Also, assisted living communities minimize the need for families to be hyper-alert, daily caregivers. Best of all, their loved one’s dignity, privacy, safety, freedom of choice, independence, and health needs will be met.
However, because your parent(s) may have been in their home for years, they may become emotional. They’ll need time to adjust to a new living situation. Bring along familiar items like family photos, a favorite chair, artwork, etc. It will feel more like home to them, surrounded by fond memories.
Let extended family members grieve, too. They may feel guilty about not being able to care for mom and/or dad. But this is a good solution. It gives everyone quality time together as a family and not just as caretakers. Being in an assisted living center will enhance your loved ones’ well-being and health.
Begin Your Search for the Right Facility at Villa St. Francis
Knowing where to start the search can be overwhelming, so begin with Villa St. Francis.
Located on the south side of Milwaukee, Villa St. Francis is near St. Francis hospital. Our assisted living facility provides a home-like, caring environment for those with a variety of needs. Whether you are someone who needs help with the activities of daily living, or an independent senior looking for a minimal level of assistance and the support of a group living environment, we are your perfect place. Live life to the fullest at Villa St. Francis.
Everyone is unique with an array of needs, and the staff at Villa St. Francis is here to help. Call us to reserve a day and time for a tour. We are happy to answer your questions. Contact Villa St. Francis today!