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Senior Assisted Living Blog

Some Simple Facts About Assisted Living

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 15, 2019
Spring Arbor, Richmond, VA

It's important to know that assisted living is an industry term. It isn't strictly defined, and there's great variety in terms of assisted daily living services provided. For example, some but not all assisted living centers have 24/7 nurse staffing. The following facts about assisted living can help you understand the diversity. The more you know about possible differences from place to place, the better your odds of making a great move.

  1. Cost is usually a top concern whenever people hunt for housing. Below we give details about assisted living expenses and how to pay for long-term care. But here's a good basic fact: Assisted living generally costs much less than nursing home care. Prices vary by region and the services needed. Also, individuals and families find many ways to pay for assisted living without draining their resources. Below we look at veterans' benefits, Medicaid, long-term care insurance and other solutions.
  2. Services with assisted living vary from place to place. The US lacks a nationwide or federal definition for assisted living, and state governments all have different industry regulations. Many states issue more than one type of license for assisted living facilities, resulting in different levels of care being allowed. Licensing also matters for payment to be covered by Medicaid, private insurance and other sources. Facilities with the most advanced licenses may provide advanced medical care when a resident becomes bedridden or has symptoms of dementia. Others might need the resident to transfer to a nursing home, hire a personal nurse, or choose in-home healthcare. Main categories of assisted daily living services (ADLs) are:
    • Bathing
    • Dressing
    • Medication Management
    • Meal Services
    • Transportation

    Residents might also get help with housekeeping needs such as dishwashing, laundry and vacuuming. Examples of specialty services that might cost extra are hairdressing, physical therapy, memory therapy, and help with scheduling appointments. Besides providing personal care services, most independent living centers facilitate social groups and outings. With everything from Bible study groups to casino gambling trips, there's something for everyone! Educational activities such as art classes and computer lessons are offered too. Generally the larger the assisted living community, the more activities it sponsors.

  3. Memory care is an option at select assisted living centers. If you or a loved one is in an early stage of Alzheimer's or other dementia, then choosing an assisted care facility might be your best option in terms of stretching your money and allowing a longer period of independent living. Staff at specially licensed centers can help delay the progression of dementia with various therapies. They can also help minimize or prevent common dementia-related challenges such as wandering and anxiety. When the condition becomes advanced, it might be possible to live at the same facility, but in a different area with secured doors and other special accommodations.
  4. Culture or “personality” matters. The US has thousands of assisted living facilities and no two are quite alike…
    • In some the decor is formal; in others it's relaxed.
    • Some are very small communities and others have hundreds of residents.
    • Depending on the property's layout, and also the local climate, residents might tend to spend lots of time outdoors, or else tend to stay inside.

    And of course residents bring different cultures along. When you search for assisted living centers, you can find homes that tend to attract residents from specific ethnic backgrounds, language groups, religious affiliations and so forth. Lately as more baby boomers are moving to assisted living, we're seeing more and more “special interest” communities too. Residents are brought together by shared interests in areas as diverse as art, golf, LGBT issues, vegetarianism and community service

  5. Pets are welcome in many independent living communities. Sometimes animal care services such as grooming and dog walking are available for an extra charge. Some communities have their own “mascot” dogs and cats. When animal companions are allowed, generally there are restrictions about the size or breed. Homes have different policies about aquariums, birds and other “pet issues” — so before choosing an assisted care facility, verify that the pet policy fits your preferences.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor.


Assisted Living and Residential Memory Care

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, April 11, 2019
Spring Arbor, SC, NC, VA, TN

are long-term housing for seniors, including those with dementia. Residents live in private suites or apartments, but some do share a living space with another individual.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, of those residing in residential care homes, 40% have some sort of dementia. Memory care , also called Alzheimer’s care, is similar to assisted living, but are specialized in people with dementia, and in most cases, are wings of assisted living facilities. It’s common for dementia care to have more staff than regular assisted living, and for the units to be locked to prevent patients from wandering.

Regular assisted living may be appropriate for those in the early to middle stages of dementia, but as the disease progresses, residential memory care is more appropriate for those who require a greater degree of care. Along with services provided in regular assisted living, such as assistance with daily activities (bathing, personal hygiene, dressing, etc.), meals, basic housecleaning, 24-hour emergency care, medication management, and social activities, residential memory care caters specifically to persons with dementia. Staff is knowledgeable about how the disease progresses, common problematic behaviors and how to handle them, and provide activities that engage persons with dementia.

Memory care is more expensive than is regular assisted living, given the specialty training of staff, the higher level of supervision, and the increased patient to staff ratio. Click here to learn more about how assisted living differs from assisted memory care.

Finding the right assisted living / residential memory care community for your loved one is difficult both emotionally and logistically. For more information, contact Spring Arbor.


Memory Care Checklist

Joseph Coupal - Monday, April 08, 2019
Spring Arbor - VA, NC, TN, SC

Choosing the right care facility is hard, and choosing the right memory care home is even harder.

Here are some questions to ask to help make the decision easier. As with any senior living home, try to visit at least once to get a good sense of what the facility is really like, not just what the facility's advertising says about it.

This checklist supplements the more general assisted living checklist by asking memory-specific questions, so be sure to print out both to take on tours.

The basics:

Is the memory care residence able to accommodate people at all levels of dementia, or only at specific levels?

Why might a resident be asked to leave the facility?

Who assesses residents' health and cognitive functioning? How often is that assessment repeated?

Does each resident have a formal, written plan of care?

Does the facility help with all ADLs, including bathing, toileting, and eating?


If the facility is part of an assisted living facility or continuing care retirement community, is the memory care section separate from other areas?

Is the memory care area all on one level?

Are the residents' rooms private or shared?

Is the facility laid out with circular hallways so that residents aren't frustrated by cul-de-sacs?

Is there an enclosed, secure outdoor area with walking paths?


Does the facility feature even, good lighting in hallways and common areas?

Does the facility feature nonslip floor surfaces in all rooms, including bathrooms?

Is the interior and exterior of the facility secure? What methods are used to keep tabs on residents and make sure they don't wander out of the building or off the grounds?

Orientation and comfort:

Are doors and rooms labeled clearly, both with words and pictures, to help residents orient themselves?

Do residents have "memory boxes" outside their rooms to help them identify the right room and to help staff members get to know them better?

Are the colors used throughout the facility bold and unpatterned?

Does the facility feature good natural or faux-natural lighting in residents' rooms and common areas?

Is the facility generally pleasant, clean, and peaceful?

Staff members:

What kind of dementia-specific training do staff members have?

Do staff members seem to know each resident's name, personality, and background?

Do staff members seem kind and attentive to residents' needs?

What is the staff-to-resident ratio?

The ratio should be at least 1 to 7, especially for later-stage dementia.

Is there an RN, LVN, or CNA on staff?

How do the staff members deal with difficult behaviors, like aggression, mood swings, and sundown syndrome?

What is the facility's policy on the use of restraints -- both physical and chemical?

Food, activities, etc.

Do residents seem to enjoy the food?

How does the facility encourage eating among residents who are uninterested in food -- or how does it encourage residents who tend to overeat not to be unhealthy?

Studies have shown that contrasts, like brightly colored plates, can encourage people with dementia to eat more.

Will the facility cater to special nutritional needs or requests?

Does the facility offer spiritual or religious services that your loved one would enjoy attending?

Does the facility allow pets? Does the facility have any of its own pets?

What activities are offered to residents? Do they seem like they would engage your loved one?

Does the facility offer regular exercise sessions for residents who are physically able to participate?

What resources are available to engage residents' long-term memories?

Some facilities offer fake kitchens where former bakers can feel at home, or stations where residents can fold laundry or do other familiar tasks that might be comforting.

For more information, contact Spring Arbor.