As people age, many find they need help with day-to-day routines -- assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, meal preparation, housekeeping, medications and transportation. Adult children, who live far away or have demanding schedules of their own, oftentimes find their loved one needs more help than they can provide.
Enriched housing and assisted living communities provide that help. Both allow the senior to continue to live as independently as possible, yet receive a "helping hand" -- bridging the gap between living on one's own and a 24-hour skilled nursing facility.
An enriched housing or assisted living residence might be part of a retirement community, nursing home or senior housing complex, or it may stand alone. Whatever the setting, both offer older adults -- and their loved ones -- peace of mind, comfort and security.
While services do vary, most enriched housing and assisted living residences provide:
- Three meals daily
- Assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing and dressing
- Help with medications
- 24-hour security and emergency call system
- Laundry and housekeeping
- Transportation and shopping
- Social and recreational activities
Costs vary, depending on the services, type of accommodations and amenities offered. Usually, there is a basic daily or monthly fee, and sometimes additional charges for added services. At some residences, there may be different costs for various levels or categories of care/services.
It's always a good idea to visit several residences before making a choice. Talk with residents about life in the community. Observe the staff to see if they're respectful and friendly with the residents. And, make sure to ask the following questions:
- What services are provided? Are they provided by staff, or by an outside agency?
- What types of accommodations are offered? Private rooms/studios/apartments? Semiprivate?
- Are family and friends able to visit conveniently?
- Can furniture and other belongings be brought from home?
- What activities and recreational opportunities are available? How often?
- What if additional assistance is needed? Are there other levels of care?
In addition, it's important to check out the physical aspects of the residence, such as:
- Is it clean?
- What about safety -- are the hallways and stairs well-lit? Are there handrails in the bathrooms? Are the exits well marked?
Finding a community takes time. Visit as many residences as you can, and once you've decided on your top choices, be sure to revisit each site to talk with staff, residents and other family members.
While adult children often play a major role in choosing a community, it's especially important to keep your loved one's interests, needs and wishes in mind. Include your parent in the process. By working together, you're better able to make the right choice -- for the entire family.