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  • Ann Hollander

What is "assisted living"?



There are many options for older adults who can no longer live at home independently. 

 

Assisted living facilities (ALFs) are tailored to individuals with health concerns that do not require the 24-hour medical attention provided by a nursing home. ALFs enable residents to be freed from the chore of meal preparation and housework and be supported in those activities that are challenging. They also offer social opportunities. 

 

The majority of residents are age 85 or older, and female. Forty-two percent have some form of dementia.  

 

The average ALF houses thirty-nine residents, although there is a wide range, from ten to more than one hundred. According to the National Center for Assisted Living, 56 percent of ALFs are part of a chain with two or more communities. Forty-two percent are independently owned.

 

ALFs typically provide these services: 

  • Private "apartments" for each resident. Usually studio or one bedroom. Most include a bathroom and kitchenette. Microwave ovens are usually available. Stoves are not.

  • Meals with others. In most cases, residents gather in a common dining hall for three meals a day.

  • Activities and a common area. Lounge areas are available for social interaction. Some facilities have exercise programs. Others offer music or field trips.

  • Housekeeping, laundry, and a van service to nearby shopping centers. 

  • Security and supervision. Call buttons provide 24-hour access to staff as needed.

 

Smaller facilities may have fewer features. 

 

Personal care services are provided when needed. 

  • A personalized care plan is developed for each resident.  

  • Help can be provided with managing medication. Also with such tasks as bathing and dressing, or walking to the dining room or to social activities. Additional fees are charged for these services. 

  • Residents are reassessed periodically to ensure needs are met. 

Nonmedical assistants provide most of the daily hands-on care. ALF staff may or may not include a nurse to manage residents' medical needs.

 

Medicare does not pay for the cost of an ALF. Some long-term care insurance policies allow for coverage of ALF fees. Veterans who qualify for the Aid and Assistance benefit may also apply this for an ALF. Talk to the facility in question and the insurer. As a general rule, facility fees must be paid with personal funds.

 

Are you considering an ALF for your loved one?

As the North Shore and Chicago experts in family caregiving, we at Options for Aging can advise you concerning the pros and cons of this option for your unique situation. Give us a call at 847-868-1445.

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