A Guide To Assisted Living

An overview of assisted living arrangements and when to consider them.

What is assisted living?

Assisted living is housing that is combined with services to provide help to those who may need it, for example the elderly or disabled. Most commonly, those who live in assisted living residences are elderly and need some personal or health care on a regular basis. The services provided in assisted living vary, so it is important to match the facility and services with an individual's needs.

What kind of building houses assisted living?

Assisted living residences vary dramatically. Some residents live in separate houses or apartments, and make use of general community services. Other residences are more hotel-like with individual rooms but common areas for dining and activities.

What services are offered by assisted living facilities?

Every facility is different, but some services that are commonly available even to those in independent living:



- Meal preparation and meal service in a shared dining room

- Transportation services

- Housekeeping services

- Gardening services

- Laundry services

- Social activities and events

- Security

Other facilities offer more comprehensive care. Some of the services offered may include:

- Medication administration

- On-site medical staff

- Personal care services, including help with bathing, dressing and grooming

- An emergency call system

- Hairdresser and barber services

When is assisted living a good idea?

It is important to think about assisted living before a person is unable to handle his current living situation. This allows him to research the available options before making a decision about moving to assisted living. Many people choose assisted living when it becomes more difficult to live on their own; for example, many people start to think about this option when they no longer drive. Not being able to drive makes it difficult to go to social events, doctor's visits and even to go to the store for groceries, so assisted living is one option for help with these things.

When evaluating an assisted living option, consider the services that are offered and the costs. Keep in mind that while you may not need all of the services right away, if your health is deteriorating you may need additional help in the future. So, shop for somewhere that offers more than what you need today. However, you do not want to pay for a lot of services you do not need. So if you are healthy and still fairly young, you may want a facility with maintenance and housekeeping services, but you would not want to pay the same rate as someone who requires extensive personal and medical care.

Often facilities that offer a range of services allow you to pay for what you use, or have different sections of the residence for people with lesser and greater needs.

Assisted living is usually more expensive than living in a comparable apartment without services. However, it is less expensive than nursing or other full-care facilities. Most people in assisted living pay for their care privately, but some local governments subsidize housing for low-income individuals. Check with your local Elder or Disabled services agencies for the availability of such programs.

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