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What is Assisted Living, and When Do You Need It?

Dec 15, 2021 | News, Uncategorized

It can be difficult to determine when to increase the level of care that your family member is receiving. There are many variables to consider when assisted living is on the table. Add to this the challenge of having different opinions within one family, and this transition can be incredibly stressful.

This guide will help you consider all relevant factors in your decision about whether it is time for assisted living.

What Is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities are designed to provide personalized care services to older adults in a setting that accommodates them to live as independently as possible. Assisted living (AL) is best suited for seniors who need some assistance completing daily activities and would benefit from some aspect of an assisted living facility.

Examples of services you can expect at an assisted living facility are:

  • Personalized Care: Whether your family member needs memory care, medical care or management of a chronic illness, they can find quality care at an assisted living facility. They will create an individualized care plan for your loved one that will shift with their needs.
  • Care Coordination: Sometimes what is most stressful is not the level of care that your family member needs but the number of different health care providers that they see regularly. Often this lands on the shoulders of a loved one to manage, but with assisted living, professional caretakers will coordinate your loved one’s appointments and care.
  • Maintenance-Free Living: In many cases, the conversation about a move to assisted living is prompted by a change in a loved one’s independence. It might become more difficult for them to complete daily living tasks like cooking, driving and cleaning. At an assisted living campus, these sorts of tasks can be taken care of by caring staff.
  • Medication Monitoring: Nursing services at an assisted living residence include the monitoring of prescriptions. You can rest easy knowing that there are trained nurses dispensing the medication and overseeing the overall care.
  • Healthy, Nutritious Meals: A key component to senior living care is ensuring that proper nutrition is easily accessible to residents.  A unique aspect of The Terraces at Bonita Springs is that there is a full-time dietician onsite. Your loved one can prepare their own meals in their private residence or they can enjoy meals prepared by our chef in our dining room.
  • Social Engagement: Often there is a certain amount of isolation that older adults begin to feel when they are no longer able to live as independently as they would like. The transition to assisted living offers them the opportunity to engage in social activities with ease. They offer a calendar of classes, events, religious services and wellness activities.

Assisted living facilities have full-time, 24-hour care available to adults who benefit from personalized care and social activities but who do not require a skilled nursing facility. For some, the transition to assisted living is a pressing need, and for others, it is simply a decision to take advantage of the higher quality of life they offer.

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Move to Assisted Living?

The benefits of assisted living are clear, but for many this transition represents a loss or an acceptance of their loved one’s decline. It is common for families to wait until they are at a breaking point to make the decision to move into an assisted living facility. Being proactive about this move can help you avoid caretaker burnout and poor health outcomes in your loved one.

Here are some key questions you can ask to better gauge if it is time for assisted living.

1. Can your loved one complete Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) independently?
Some care facilities will ask that you track ADLs to assess the level of independence of a prospective resident. Assisted living is appropriate for those who can perform most daily tasks on their own but may need the assistance of either a caretaker or living accommodations to complete the others.

Examples of Activities of Daily Living are:

  • Bathing
  • Dining
  • Dressing
  • Toileting
  • Continence

Assessing your loved one’s competence in these areas is the first step. You might also evaluate their current care. Is it effective? Is it sustainable? Is it placing undue pressure on a relationship?

For example, if one of these tasks requires the supervision of another adult and this necessity is becoming a burden to the caretaker, it may be time to consider assisted living. Sometimes this transition can relieve pressure from a loved one and allow them to once again enjoy the role of daughter, son, spouse, or friend without the stress of also being a caretaker.

In addition, you may consider your loved one’s demonstrated ability to complete what are often referred to as Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADLs). These are less basic tasks but are still essential to an independent life.

Examples of Instrumental Activities of Daily Living are:

  • Paying bills
  • Cleaning
  • Cooking
  • Driving
  • Socialization

The move to an assisted living residence allows for these responsibilities to be shifted to a professional caretaker. If your loved one is able to, though, they can continue to complete these Instrumental Activities of Daily Living.

2. Would your loved one benefit from more social engagement?
In some cases, seniors are still able to conduct their lives independently, but they are finding it difficult in this new stage of life to stay connected and involved in a community. The effects of this isolation cannot be overstated.

What assisted living facilities offer that are difficult to find elsewhere are built-in social engagement opportunities for their residents. At The Terraces at Bonita Springs, residents enjoy our Vitality Program offerings that emphasize and support their overall wellness and independence.

There is a calendar of events that you can be a part of to connect with others, engage in wellness activities or receive assistance with community resources.

3. Do you have a plan for long-term care?
Sometimes it is overwhelming to think about your loved one’s health declining. Apart from the obvious sadness that comes with this, discussions about assisted living costs and skilled nursing are rarely pleasant ones. But the reality that your loved one will likely need even more support than assisted living at some point in their life is something you will want to consider.

Making the move toward assisted living now – when your loved one can still complete some daily tasks on their own – puts support in place now that will make future transitions easier. Often, your family member could even stay in the same senior living community when they are moved from one tier of care to another.

4. Is your loved one’s current caretaker able to meet their needs?
So often when a family is considering assisted living for a loved one, the well-being of more than one family member is at stake. The mental and physical fatigue of caring for a loved one is real, and the hidden costs of being a family caregiver can take a toll on your health too.

It is important for caretakers – especially those who are family members – to have a realistic and objective plan when taking on the role of caregiver for a parent, spouse or sibling. The move to assisted living has the potential to greatly improve not only your loved one’s quality of life but yours too.

5. Have you noticed any changes in your loved one?
The final consideration might be the most subjective. In many cases, full-time caretakers cannot clearly see how much their loved one’s condition is worsening or how much strain it is placing on their lives.

It can be helpful to ask friends and other family members what changes they are noticing in your loved one and if they think it would benefit them to move to an assisted living facility.

Changes like sleeping more, losing interest in their hobbies or increased forgetfulness should be considered alongside any changes with their physical health. As you note these developments, you can consider the services of an assisted living facility listed above and ask yourself: How would my loved one’s quality of life change with a move to assisted living?

Next Steps To Pursuing Assisted Living for Your Loved One

If you’d like more information about the benefits of assisted living, contact The Terraces at Bonita Springs. We’d love to talk about how we can serve your family.

About The Terraces at Bonita Springs

Recreation, special events, holiday celebrations, educational programs, guest speakers and a variety of inspiring activities take place throughout the year at The Terraces at Bonita Springs as part of the community’s active lifestyle programs. The Terraces is the only Life Plan Community for senior living in the Bonita Springs area with services and amenities all under one roof. Living choices include independent living, assisted living, memory support, skilled nursing and rehabilitation. All levels of care, including assisted living, skilled nursing and memory support, are open for direct admittance with no entrance fee.

For more information, visit TheTerracesAtBonitaSprings.com or call ​239-208-6963.

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