Many people are unclear of what life in assisted living is like these days; especially if they have predisposed notions that communities are synonymous with institutional nursing homes of the past. Families may not be entirely clear about what an assisted living community means — especially in today’s world with state-of-the-art amenities, chef-inspired cuisine, occupational and physical therapy, field trip outings and most important; a staff of expertly trained professionals who care for residents.
Many families are deeply affected by their elderly loved ones’ transitions to assisted living. It’s not only a highly emotional time, but also a time when decisions are expedited for quick moves resulting from declining health. Here is some insight to help families going through this emotional turmoil.
Some older adults really blossom in assisted living, mainly because assisted living often provides a lot more social activity — and even a family — for those who were lonely and even somewhat isolated in their home environment. This is especially true of older adults who had previously been having difficulty leaving home due to physical or cognitive limitations. Assisted living’s medication management services can also be very helpful, and sometimes I see seniors improve a lot medically simply because they begin taking their medications consistently.
It’s important for families to visit and get a feel for a community to see whether it’s a good fit for their loved one’s personality and level-of-care needed. It’s not the amenities, it’s the emotional and expertise that’s important. Communities are also looking at ways to improve not just providing good care, but also exceeding customer service expectations and improving the lives of seniors through research and advocacy means.
How Assisted Living Has Changed Over the Years
In most states there is better, cleaner, operational regulation and more adept staff training requirements. There has been a huge shift in the consumer. Families and seniors themselves are more comfortable with senior care communities as a clear method to potentially postponing nursing home care, which was not the case, years ago. The concept of resort-style living is becoming more attractive to active seniors. A really nice shift has been a decrease in the level of skepticism, and increase in the trust.
Today there is also a plethora of activities and amenities, in addition to state-of-the art care from medical and therapist professionals, including:
- Barber and beautician services
- Book groups
- Dining and food services
- Gardening clubs
- Housekeeping and laundering services
- Physical and occupational therapy
- Scheduled transportation services to outings outside of community
- Theater outings
- Wellness and physical fitness, catered to individual needs, including: Catered fitness regimes, Water aerobics, Walking
It’s important to consider whether your loved one would want to participate in the events and amenities in the community, if their basic needs are met. After all, unless the senior is suffering from Alzheimer’s or dementia, the mind of a 90-year-old in assisted living hasn’t aged; just the body has.
What Assisted Living is Like Today
Assisted living depends on the professionals at each community. The good and forward thinking providers and companies have created senior condo-like settings where care is provided discreetly, on a resident’s own schedule, inside their own apartment or home, and by consistent staff. Daily schedules are different for each resident, and should be, as they are catered to individual needs. That alone shows how the trend in care has shifted to each individual.
The Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
Activities of daily living (ADLs) are the tasks necessary to participate in a senior’s daily care. Assisted living associates are trained to supplement where a resident has weaknesses, and to not do the tasks for them, but to help them. Life tasks include two areas:
- Using the toilet independently
- Walking and getting around
Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLS):
- House Cleaning and Chores
- Meal Preparation
- Using the Telephone
In assisted living, many of the IADLS are handled by either the community or a relative of the resident. Each community has their own system, so it’s important to find the options that work for each family’s unique situation.
Care professionals become like family for the residents and they come to rely on them for their daily activities, whether it’s dressing them, helping them shower, or simply bringing them the right types of meals or newspaper articles for their morning routines. Staff at communities become a part of each resident’s life. They can even become family who are missed if they’re on vacation or leave.
Why Emotional Connections with Staff Are Important
Families, without exception want communities to care for their loved one the way they do. They want to be asked personal questions, and they want to share family stories. They want to trust care staff, and any associate working in senior care should be attempting to gain that trust once it is earned. Staff becomes part of the family, and an integral conduit of communication, support, and guidance.
Family and staff and resident interaction is what most families respond to when they visit. It’s a palpable energy when the community is working in synergy, which is why the emotional connections are so important.
For more information on assisted living, contact Spring Arbor.
A Place for Mom