Assisted Living: A Welcome Alternative to Long-Term Care

Today’s seniors have far more options than the nursing home of yesteryear when it comes to long-term care. Assisted living facilities, which are designed to provide privacy and autonomy, along with a sense of community, have grown in response to our rapidly increasing senior population. Both residents and staff seek to emphasize the “living” in assisted living.

Frequently, assisted living facilities include 24-hour emergency response services, three daily meals, personal care, transportation services, and housekeeping and laundry services. They strive to provide seniors with a home-like atmosphere that accommodates their active lifestyle, along with their unique needs. Adopting the motto “no two people are exactly alike,” they offer an ever increasing variety of choices in accommodations, activities, and personalized services according to the diverse needs of their clients.

Although assisted living facilities originated in private organization-based homes, today, prospective residents may have the choice of buying or renting apartments or villas. Clients may select the type and size of accommodation that suits their needs—some offer spacious layouts that may include two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, dining room, den, and deck.

Apart from the individualized choice of residence, assisted living communities are focusing on independence and freedom through a diverse schedule of activities and services. Residents are encouraged to remain physically active through swimming, yoga, and other fitness classes. Facilities may also offer a range of educational programs on topics such as technology, investing, nutrition, or bird watching. Entertainment is often provided on-site with movies, concerts, and even concierge services.

In terms of long-term care, many facilities provide assistance with daily activities, as needed, in order to promote and maintain independence. The resident can choose the level of care that is required, with the option of adding more services over time. An increasing number of assisted living facilities embrace the concept of “aging in place,” or providing additional medical services as a senior ages. For example, basic help with medications and dressing are common services; however, if a senior needs more skilled and personalized attention due to a medical condition, he or she may have the option of moving to the nursing wing of the residence. Some facilities even offer medical and check-in services through “at home” assisted living/residential care.

An important part of preparing for the future is planning for potential long term care expenses, including those associated with an assisted living facility. One option to help meet these expenses is long term care insurance. Policies vary, but in general, they provide a daily, set amount of coverage that can be used in a number of ways. Long-term care insurance may help cover the expenses of nursing homes, assisted living facilities, adult day care centers, and/or home health care. The cost of coverage is typically based on age, current health, and specific policy features, such as scope of coverage, levels of care, and duration of benefits. Long-term care insurance can help increase options for care, while preserving assets.

Today’s seniors are generally more active than previous generations. As our population ages, the demand for more personalized and diverse services increases. Assisted living facilities that promote an active and independent lifestyle are a positive indicator of the innovative future of senior health care. Remember, the best time to prepare for the future is now.


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