When our parents or grandparents, aunts or uncles, or dear friends begin to age, a lot of questions about their futures arise: can they take care of themselves? Should someone move in with them? Do they need constant care? What are the options? What is the cost? Making decisions for others can be a daunting task, especially when loved ones want to make sure that their decisions are appropriate for someone they care about deeply. Unfortunately, there is no single solution for everyone; everyone ages differently and needs special kinds of care and attention. One type of program, however, does prove to be beneficial to seniors of all ages: assisted living.
What is Assisted Living
Assisted living is a system in which certified caregivers, called CNAs, provide attention and care to a loved one. This can happen in a variety of settings, including in-home and at a separate location. Assisted living specifically caters to the needs of the individual.
Types of Assisted Living
There are two main types of Assisted Living: in-home and on location. Both serve to be beneficial to those in the golden years, but which is most beneficial depends on the needs of the person in question. In-home assisted living is when a certified caregiver, often a CNA, goes to the home of the senior (either every morning, at certain times, or 24/7) to help the senior take care of their day-to-day tasks. The CNA can assist with some medical needs, as well as help them get from place to place by providing means of transportation. These caregivers offer a form of dependent living to the senior, while also letting them remain in their choice of home. It can help the senior fight off the loneliness that may come from living alone by providing a friend that will stay dedicated to their health, happiness, and well-being.
On location assisted living is for the senior who is able to live on his or her own, but is in need of structure and remedial help. These on-location services are often called Assisted Living Communities, as it puts an emphasis on community, socializing, and remaining active. Seniors enjoying an Assisted Living Community often have access to clubs, social events, leisure activities, sports, on-location dining services, and assistance with daily tasks, such as paying bills and taking medication. This differs slightly from a retirement community as the focus is on overall health, as opposed to simple enjoyment. Assisted Living Communities are a great option for those who like their independence, but also need help completing daily tasks. It is also a safer environment for those who seem to be having trouble with memory or taking care of themselves in regards to hygiene.
Although both of these options may sound great, it can be hard to know when a senior needs assistance with their daily lives.
Although each senior is different, there are some universal signs that will let a loved one know when to begin thinking about assisted living options. Start thinking about these options if the senior:
- exhibits sign of forgetfulness
- demonstrates a lack of keeping up with personal hygiene
- is having trouble staying on top of daily tasks, such as cooking or cleaning
- is feeling lonely
- has wandered off a few times, possibly endangering themselves
- has medications that they are not able to balance
- cannot drive him/herself to and from important dates (doctor’s appointments, church, social events)
- is sick or hurt, such as with diabetes or a fractured/injured muscle
The key is to not worry the senior. Talk to them about what they would like, if they wish to stay in their home, and if they prefer a certain location or type of care.
There are sure signs that help loved ones know if a senior may need to live in a residential assisted living facility:
- Forgetfulness/getting lost
- Forgetting medicines
- Unable to care for themselves
- Unable to keep the house up/home too large for person or pair
Although Assisted Living Communities tend to cost more than in-home care, they are a great solution to give seniors independence while still ensuring they are safe and cared for.
Amenities and Benefits of Assisted Living
One of the biggest complaints from seniors as they age is that they experience loneliness. This is particularly true in situations where a spouse or other close loved one has passed away. It can be hard to face even day-to-day tasks alone. sometimes couples can also experience loneliness if they are alone in their house together on a regular basis. This can be hard on the individuals, especially the family, as they may have a sense of obligation to visit to keep seniors feeling loved, appreciated, and heard.
With assisted living, whether in-home or on-location, loved ones never have to feel alone. With on-call caregivers and staff, as well as the presence of other residents in the community (in on-location programs), loved ones experience loneliness less. Some assisted living services provide social events, outings, or opportunities to mingle so loved ones can create bonds and form friendships with those living near them.
The feeling of purpose and importance is crucial to anyone’s mental health. In order to keep residents busy and feeling a sense of accomplishment, many Assisted Living Services provide extracurricular activities for their residents, such as sewing, reading, swimming, and gaming clubs. The responsibilities associated with upholding a place in these clubs gives residents the feeling of accomplishment, while still providing a relaxed, low-stress environment.
A lot of assisted living communities also have health and fitness programs to keep seniors moving. Providing fitness classes, or info-classes about certain health issues, helps seniors stay active and up-to-date on their medical and health needs. Even if a loved one is going to be utilizing in-home care, the caregivers are able to assist with staying active by going to the store, for a swim, for a walk, or even to the gym! All services are there to help loved ones stay active and happy.
One of the most important facets of assisted living is health care. Most seniors entering the programs have some illness or chronic ailment that must be addressed on a daily basis. Through diet, exercise, supplements, medications, and other facets of health, caregivers work with the resident and the family to produce a structured plan on how to stay healthy and prevent future incidents.
When a loved one starts to develop confusion or memory loss, a major concern is that of security: will my loved one be safe? Do they need to be watched at all times? Do they feel like they are being babysat? All of these questions are taken into consideration when deciding just how much attention a senior will need. Assisted living provides the service of ensuring that a loved one is happy, healthy, and safe every day, whether in-home or on-location. Our caregivers work with families and residents to ensure that safety is a top priority. There are many options for each type of Assisted Living, but loved ones and the senior will decide what will work best for their unique situation.
Assisted Living Costs
Assisted Living, of course, depends on what features or types of care are needed. Variables include:
- The kind of assistance (in-home or on-location)
- Size of apartment (for on-location)
- Types of services required (in-home or on-location)
- How often help is needed (in-home)
- Geographical location of the community (on-location)
The way to get the best deal available is to start “shopping” early, being sure that only services that are actually needed are purchased. A lot of Assisted Living Communities charge for a “bundle” of services that a senior may not even use (such as a gym or fitness classes). To check if this is happening, simply ask the representative if they will provide service “a la carte,” or, only as needed. A la carte services typically include:
- Health and Exercise Programs
- Social Programs
- Outings and events
- On-site health care providers
Any and all care provided by Assisted Living Communities will be done by staff consisting of owners, caregivers, and CNAs. But, what is a CNA?
What is a CNA?
A CNA is a Certified Nurse’s Assistant who is able to provide basic care for any individual. Their areas of care include hygiene care, administering medicine to patients (not prescribing), personal care (emotional), mental stimulation, and simple day-to-day tasks that the senior cannot perform anymore. So why not use a Registered Nurse? CNAs are those who are often on their way to obtaining their RN degree. They may be currently enrolled in school and are using their skills to care for patients and practice their caregiving skills. Hiring these talented, passionate individuals is helpful for them and cost effective. Hiring RNs would cost nearly three times more to do work that they are overqualified to do. CNAs are a great edition to any assisted living situation and are known for their personal relationships with patients and outstanding care provided to patients.
A CNA is an asset to assisted care facilities and in-home caregiving services! They check in on a loved one daily and become close with them on a personal level. They get to know the senior beyond the patient-caregiver relationship by establishing personal relationships. This is beneficial to the resident and the family members, as there is always someone nearby that knows how the resident is doing and can provide, in full detail, the extent of a loved one’s well-being.
CNAs see the senior most often in an assisted living situation. They are also trained to care for individuals with the utmost professionalism, while also establishing a personal relationship filled with trust and genuine care. Whether they are helping them dress, eat, bathe, or simply having a conversation with a loved one, they are establishing trust and building relationships that are much more intimate and one-on-one than that of the average caregiver-patient relationship.
Paying for assisted living can be a daunting task. Although it can seem expensive, comparing it to monthly living costs of seniors, especially when factoring in the possibility of an ER visit (from falling, getting injured, or self-neglect), assisted living proves to be a great investment, especially for families who live far away from their senior loved one. The Assisted Living Communities provide housing, all utilities, housekeeping, dining, activities, health-care, and security—all things that are needed by seniors are a daily basis. If loved ones worry about placing them in a community, as opposed to simply hiring them an in-home caregiver, know that there are options! Many assisted living services provide payment plans, or pay-as-you-go plans, where families pay monthly. With a la carte options, the payment can vary month-to-month, providing more control over the amounts owed for that month, depending on individual financial situations.
Other options include liquidating assets held by the senior in question in order to pay for the new lifestyle. If a senior is better suited for on-location care, selling property, cars, or other assets may be the best and most efficient way to pay. Especially since the senior will no longer have need for those assets, it can be an easy way to make the money for the payments.
Another option is a getting a loan for assisted living facilities. Many banks will provide loans for those types of payments.
Finally, talking to the potential service provider and negotiating the price is a great way to go. Many services want business, and will even give discounts when they are asked. Certain discounts are provided for those who have experience in military service, clergy service, or previous medical service. If any of these apply to a loved one, many discounts may be available!
Making a Decision
Be sure to examine not only the cost, but the quality of the care in question. There are plenty of resources online that are available to consumers and possible residents. Be sure to see what options are available in the surrounding area.
Another great option is to hire a professional to find the best location based on a loved one’s individual needs. Loves ones or family members simply explain their desired price point, location, and amenities, and they are able to find the best deal! Read reviews, conduct interviews, or even try a trial stay—the top priority is to make sure that whichever location chosen is comfortable, both physically and monetarily.
It can be scary to place a loved one into the hands of strangers. Just know that all staff are professional trained, experienced, and able to care for any individual, regardless of how many needs they may have. All CNAs are trained and are able to conduct themselves in a way that helps loved ones make connections, form relationships, and make a senior feel comfortable and safe.
Overall, assisted living is a great option for any individual in their golden age of life looking to be independent, yet secure. These services not only provide outlets for personal health, but they also provided social and mental health enhancements as well. The safety and security provided by assisted living will provide peace of mind about the wellbeing of a loved one, as well as keep the individual happy, healthy, and cared for. If it may be time to begin searching for an assisted living service, get started now! It is never too early to begin thinking, researching, and planning for the future. Contact Cobbdale Assisted Living for more information on assisted living.