Mention “assisted care” to a group of friends, and you’ll quickly learn that they all have different notions of what that means.
To some, it will mean an apartment building-like facility where dozens, perhaps hundreds of people are able to live independent lives, but can draw on a variety of helpful services ranging from housekeeping to medication management.
But as those friends will quickly tell you, assisted care can mean many other things, as well.
At its most basic level, it describes an arrangement where a person continues to live at home and has occasional assistance with chores, cooking, cleaning, shopping – the range is limitless.
This is an ideal setup for someone whose health is still quite good, may need a little assistance with some of the more strenuous aspects of everyday living. Changing sheets, for instance, or flipping a mattress can become more difficult with age.
However, for seniors who are still living in the family home, what this kind of assisted care doesn’t offer is a sense of community. For many seniors, particularly those who no longer work outside the home, having an opportunity to interact with other people can essential to their well-being.
Community Living Expands Horizons
As we get older, our worlds tend to shrink. Friends pass away. Children move. Our acquaintances find it more difficult to engage in many of the activities that we regularly shared with them in earlier years. So while in-home assistance offers the sense of comfort and security that you can only get from living in your own home, it is socially limiting.
That is an area where independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care are greatly superior.
Independent living provides an arrangement where many people live in a larger building, each with his or her own independent apartment. They do desire some assistance – mostly with regard to domestic home care – but for the most part they are self-reliant.
When you look over the extra-curricular offerings of high-end independent living facilities, you may well think you’re looking at a brochure for a well-heeled resort. It’s not uncommon to see wine tastings, art classes, foreign language lessons and a full-service salon.
Physically, assisted living offers the same sort of arrangement, with individual apartments for residents. But generally, more support services provided, and there may be some minimal staffing by nursing professionals.
Quite honestly, the lines often get blurred when you’re discussing independent and assisted living. Assisted living definitely involves more medical assistance, but it is not at all uncommon for independent living to offer some, minimal, form of assisted care.
Indeed, in past decade or so, many facilities have begun to offer independent living and assisted living all under the same roof. It’s a convenience for the facility and a comfort for residents who are able to stay in the same location when changes in health necessitate a shift from independent to assisted living.
Also, Episcopal Retirement Homes offers a new spin for residents that need some type of assistance but would like to stay in their apartment in one of our communities. Enriched Living Services provides options for residents who may prefer some support that enables them to fully enjoy their independent lifestyle. These services range from extra housekeeping or laundry services to regular medication reminders and enhanced dining options. Our Enriched Living packages have been designed to provide the best value for the majority of our residents. Services are also available for those who may only need intermittent support.
Now skilled nursing care, however, can be another thing altogether.
A Solution for Better Physical and Social Health
Skilled nursing facilities offer a more intensive regimen of medical care. It could be for short-term rehabilitation. It could be long-term. Facilities offers vary widely and have wide ranging specialties. They tend to have round-the-clock nursing staffs and rehabilitation services that are offered 5 to 7 days a week.
It is not unusual for skilled nursing care to be offered as part of a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) in the same facilities that have assisted living and independent living. Again, the goal is for residents to be able to move seamlessly from one type of service to another.
The profile of senior residential care is rapidly changing in the United States.
More places are offering more services and, in many cases, have grown into facilities that differ remarkably little from the communities that surround them.
As we’ve said many times before, it is essential for you to ask lots of questions and to do lots of research before making any decision on your or a loved one’s living arrangements. You need to know for certain what sorts of services are offered and which ones are not. They will vary widely from facility to facility, even if outwardly, they seem much the same.