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What is an assisted or senior living facility? Can it benefit you or your loved one? Will you or your loved one like it? Let’s discuss resources and reasons why assisted living can be beneficial and the right choice for you or a loved one. Assisted living in short provides care to the elderly including dining, nursing, and housekeeping. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, there are more than 800,000 people residing in assisted living in the United States. Which is about 2% of seniors in the United States who live in assisted living facilities.
As seniors age, they may need help with hygiene, eating, or housekeeping activities to live a full life. When needing care assistance there are different options for you or your loved one. Assisted living facilities focus on the importance of personal care in a facility for you or your loved one. Make sure to talk with your loved one about the choice to move into an assisted living facility.
Isolation and loneliness have been proven to assist in the decline of an elderly person’s health. As a resident, daily social activities and conversing with others will help you or your loved one to broaden important social skills at an older age. Being in an assisted living facility can drastically improve overall health by simply boosting your or a loved one’s mood. If you or a loved one are feeling isolated or lonely, being in a senior living facility will present the opportunity to meet people and socialize with other residents you may have a lot in common with.
It can be difficult to narrow down an assisted living facility that’s right for you or your loved one. There are many options available to help fit you or your loved ones needs. The most important part when selecting an assisted living facility is making sure it checks all the boxes. When choosing a community, take time to research and discover what these facilities have to offer.
Having a good reputation in the community is important to the facility, potential residents and families. The best way to judge a reputation is by experiencing it, it’s easy to make quick judgements so we recommend reading reviews, reaching out to residents or families in the area, and scheduling a tour.
Licensing and Inspections
The state regulates assisted living communities by putting in place protocols, procedures, and sometimes showing up unannounced to the facility. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), regulate nursing homes with evaluations posted on their website but not assisted living communities. Each state regulates assisted living facilities in place of the federal government. Each state is different and usually is monitored by the state’s health department or social services. To learn more, click here.
Longevity of Staff
Having experienced and well-trained staff is crucial to a properly run facility. Staff who have been around the facility for years know the residents well, are very familiar with the facility and are experienced. When assisting residents, you or your loved one want a staff member who knows what they are doing. Having a connection with the staff is important for residents to feel comfortable and trust who is taking care of them.
Having a clean facility is crucial to choosing the right one for you or your loved one. The ambience is a big factor to consider when touring, does it feel comfortable, or does it feel off? Is the facility like the pictures online or does it look completely different, many facilities do this to get customers in the door, and it’s deceiving. In the facility, pay attention if the staff is warm and friendly or if they seem like they don’t want to be there. Picture yourself or your loved one walking through the halls or sitting having dinner with residents, it’s important to feel comfortable. Does the facility appeal to all 5 senses (taste, touch, smell, hearing, and eyesight)?
When choosing an assisted living facility, the staff is one of the most important aspects of deciding. The staff are going to be taking care of you or your loved one and will be responsible for administering medicine, help with mobility, running engaging activities, and caring for you or your loved one’s overall safety. Assisted living staff should be passionate in this line of work, find people you or your loved one connect with and feel comfortable around. If you’re looking for ways to see what kind of staff a facility has, to catch a glimpse, poke around on the facility’s Facebook page. Doing this allows you to see into the environment and staff at the facility. Most facilities have social media to keep families and potential residents updated and to highlight special moments.
Can you or your loved one’s needs be met? Will the nurses and staff cater to you or your loved one for your specific required needs? These are the questions to think about before making the final decision where to go. 24/7 nursing is important to have when aging, someone to always be there for you or your loved one in case of emergency. Look into how care is administered and how it is determined to cater to you or your loved one. Ask questions on the tour, reach out to the director, and read all the information the facility will provide you in detail. Also, ask if the facility has a Quality Assurance Manager.
A facility having a service like transportation will give residents the ability to go to their doctor’s appointments safely or partake in an adventure off property. It’s a special service not every facility can offer, families of loved ones can relax knowing they’re safe and provided with the service of transportation.
Everyone needs fresh air. Having a path to walk on or somewhere to be able to sit and get fresh air is important, especially in assisted living, it’s easy to become cooped up a lot of the time. Getting outside and moving your body will help feelings of isolation or sadness. Ask the facility if they have outdoor patios and how often they use them. Look for some vitamin D!
Some facilities offer many different types of amenities like an ice cream parlor, barber shop, hair salon, library and more!
Security & Call System
If you or your loved one suffers from Alzheimer’s or dementia, having security implementations such as Wander Guard will help monitor you or your loved one. If a resident tries to leave the building alone, it’s a simple way to help avoid accidents and to keep everyone safe. Having a call system in place will help with the safety of you or your loved one. Residents can notify nurses if they are not feeling well or have fallen, it’s a system that helps staff be aware of issues in the building since they can’t be everywhere at once. The call system is a feature that helps bring families peace of mind because they know their loved ones are in constant care, which is better than at home.
Many facilities offer a wide variety of social and recreational activities for residents, with a lot of diversity to cater to different interests. When researching facilities, focus on activities that interest you or your loved one and that seem fun. At an assisted living facility, there are more options than if at home, but it’s still important to find activities you or your loved one will enjoy. Facilities that offer a variety will be super helpful in creating a wonderful atmosphere. Some facilities offer night owl calendars, the purpose of night owl is to have residents stimulated if they can’t go to bed or enjoy staying up late. From indoors to outdoors to exercise classes and happy hours, many facilities offer a lot of options for residents to socialize.
With the hundreds of activities assisted living facilities can put together, important activities also include family involvement as well as the community. Having a facility that enriches and encourages families to come and visit their loved ones is important to help maintain close bonds. Holiday parties with family and birthdays can help residents stay connected.
Most people have different needs or specific restrictions when it comes to their diet, especially as they age. It can be recommended by your doctor, an allergy, or a personal choice. Making sure a facility offers special dietary services is an important feature. While looking, it’s important to also research if the menu is approved by a dietitian. Food can increase socialization and overall health in you or your loved one by fueling your body with nutritious meals. Having food that you or your loved one will like is crucial to enjoying an assisted living facility. Eating and socializing promotes a sense of community and food can help residents feel happier and more comfortable.
Look into if residents can have visitors and what that cost would be. Some residents might not be able to leave the assisted living home because they are not able, so it’s important to see if the facility allows family members to have private parties or gatherings.
It’s important to keep questions like these in mind on the tour or speaking with the facility employees:
➢ Are there community entrance fees?
➢ Are there any extra costs?
➢ Can you age in place?
➢ How often do rates increase?
Some facilities charge these fees, and some do not. Each facility will work differently for everyone based on their financial situation and each facility offers different services to residents. Find what’s best for you or your loved one!
This checklist is meant to help get you or your loved one’s mind thinking about important aspects to consider when discussing moving into assisted living. There are many attributes that pertain to where you or your loved one make the choice. It’s important to do the research and investigate certain features that would help make the decision easier. It can be difficult to narrow down the right place, especially with cost being a large factor of where you or your loved one will go. Use resources to help in this decision and trust your gut!
Reason 1:- 24/7 Nursing
Having nurses on site 24/7 is a game changer for you or a loved one. It gives you and family members peace of mind that there are medical professionals readily available if anything were to happen. Having a caregiver who is professionally trained will help residents to live a happier life. As much as family or friends want to help, they do not have the experience nurses do. Some facilities do not offer 24-hour nurses because they don’t have enough staff or money in their budget. They will still have access to nurses but not 24/7 or sometimes only virtually, it’s up to you or your loved one which is preferred.
It can be hard to accept if you or a loved one needs assisted living care but recognizing it and finding the best fit is worth the hardship. The sense of safety you can give yourself or a loved one will be extremely beneficial to both sides. Usually, families want to do everything they can and become their own versions of nurses. There comes a point in time when medical professionals will make the world a difference on both sides, while also giving the opportunity to gain a group of supporters and advocates for you or a loved one’s health.
Reason 2: – Having a 24/7 Activities Calendar
Keeping social has its many benefits for seniors. If you or a loved one are introverted, it’s easy to become lonely and isolated. Being alone has proven to have negative effects on mental and physical health. Taking part in socialization may improve your memory and is a way to have fun! The reason for 24/7 activities is to intrigue every type of resident, whether that be at late afternoon or 3 in the morning because they can’t go back to bed after taking their medication. Or they can’t sleep because they miss their family, so they find a friend to play cards with. The purpose is to always have the opportunity for residents available regardless of time.
During the day, a resident may be too tired to do anything but by nighttime, they feel better. This gives everyone the opportunity to socialize on their own time. Some residents are night owls, others early birds, both have the chance to do what they want and when. If you or a loved one are looking for a chance to improve your mental health, consider and participate in activities that are offered because there are bigger reasons behind them. For example, playing cards frequently can help improve your or a loved one’s memory and cognition. Cards help with short-term memory as recalling a move quickly is important, as well as hand eye coordination. Reminder, social activities will always be important to a person’s physical and mental health, regardless of age.
Reason 3: – Services and Amenities
Something you wouldn’t be able to enjoy at home but can at a facility will likely become an incentive on why a senior living facility might be for you. For example, the adjustment of going from a home with not much to do unless you could drive there, to a facility with cool amenities like a beauty parlor and barber shop could be a fun change!
The day-to-day places you had to go each day while living alone can be right down the hall instead. This saves gas money, car payments, expenses, or the risk of something happening to you or a loved one unsupervised. When looking for the right facility for you or your loved one, pay close attention to the amenities and the benefits of having them right there. When picking options, have them be desirable and beneficial to what you or your loved one want.
Reason 4: – Dining
Independence is easy to take for granted, having it taken away or fighting a loved one over it for their safety is difficult. With assisted living, loved ones are monitored constantly without being invasive, to allow the opportunity to still be independent. They can go on walks, take a yoga class, or participate in field trips all while having nurses assist at every event they choose to attend. If anything were to happen, they wouldn’t be alone.
Reason 5: – Feel at Home
If you or your loved one suffers from pain or difficulty getting around, assisted living can help relieve those struggles and provide comfort. Having professionals monitor medications or assist with hygiene activities will help you or a loved one’s quality of life. It’s not a secret as someone gets older, it is more of a risk for them to be alone or to be doing activities they’ve always done. Being a resident of assisted living will help bring an extra level of safety to you or your loved one that families cannot bring. As safe and secure someone may feel with their own families, it is not always the solution especially if they have their own lives to live.
Reason 6: – Safety
When an elderly person is living alone, they usually have housework to upkeep or laundry to fold. But what if the washer and dryer are in the basement and it’s a hazard to walk down a steep flight of stairs. Not only does this pertain to safety but joining an assisted living facility can also allow for more free time. Not worrying about the laundry being folded, the dishes being clean or the mailbox being completely full.
Pittsburgh is known as one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania according to Niche. It is rich in American history and known as the “City of Bridges” having 446 of them. There are 195 assisted living facilities in the Pittsburgh area, they offer different opportunities for levels of care and costs.
Pittsburgh is a place where different age groups can find multiple activities to do. Being in assisted living won’t stop you from still enjoying the city you live in if you’re able. Look into the local arts and culture of Pittsburgh, like the Warhol Museum.
When it comes to deciding when to go into assisted living, it’s important to plan. Coming to terms with accepting help or realizing you or your loved one needs a change in their environment requires some deep thinking. There is a lot going into a decision as big as this one: family, pets, current home, or if facility care is the right choice. Check out this planning guide for a mental and physical checklist to help you or your loved one feel better prepared.
If you or your loved one do choose to become a resident at a senior living facility, the standard is to be well taken care of daily. There should be multiple employees in each department making sure residents are comfortable and being cared for. To benefit from the care you or your loved one receive, it’s important to also continue to care for yourselves.
Residing in a senior living f!acility opens a door of opportunity and benefits for you or a loved one. With a 24/7 activities schedule to keep you or your loved one engaged and social to the multiple amenities available. Gain the advantages senior living facilities offer while feeling comfortable and aging in place. Senior living is not only about becoming older, but also about finding a place which fits you or a loved one’s needs best, all while offering opportunities that wouldn’t be available at home. Having 24-hour nurses physically on property can make a world of difference with your or a loved one’s health compared to being alone.
Still feel connected to having independence by choosing to participate in activities and continue to stay active. Senior assisted living facilities can offer the opportunity of aging in place. The care you receive can adapt with you or your loved one’s age, resulting in a happier and safer lifestyle. Its main purpose is to provide comfort and fulfillment to residents and their families in times of need.
If you’re interested in learning more about senior living facilities and what they can offer to you or a loved one, research! Call up potential facilities and schedule a tour to see it in person or a virtual visit.
Take the information here and process all the opportunities senior assisted living can give to yourself or a loved one. It can transform a person’s way of life as they begin to age and have limited abilities. There are more opportunities for residents with activities and amenities available every day, compared to if they weren’t residents at a facility. Socializing and moving your feet are key factors in staying healthy as everyone ages, cue the live music and midnight movies!