Assisted living is a type of housing designed for people who need various levels of medical and personal care. It is a homey environment that is physically designed to promote the resident's independence. Services are offered to help residents with daily life, such as medication management, assistance with using the bathroom, dressing and getting ready, cleaning services, meals, laundry and transportation, as well as social programs and activities. Nursing homes, also called skilled nursing facilities, offer a wide range of health and personal care services that focus on health care more than most assisted living facilities.
These services typically include nursing care, 24-hour supervision, three meals a day, and assistance with daily activities. Rehabilitation services such as physical, occupational and speech therapy are also available. If you or a loved one could use a little help with daily activities to continue living independently, assisted living may be the answer. Assisted living communities are for older adults who want to remain independent in a home-like environment, but who need non-medical assistance to perform activities of daily living (ADL), such as eating, bathing, dressing, maintaining good hygiene and going to the bathroom.
If you meet the income requirements and you (or your spouse) qualify as a wartime military veteran, you can also receive a monthly monetary benefit to help pay for assisted living through the Veterans Administration's aid and assistance program. People who can no longer live independently move to the assisted living facility or sometimes receive home care in their independent living unit. Assisted living communities are typically equipped with 24-hour on-site staff and offer up to three prepared meals a day, as well as cleaning services and some transportation services. The facilities range from those that offer the basics to those that have luxury accommodations and services such as spas and bars.
Generally, if the resident meets state income eligibility guidelines and the assisted living community is licensed by the state and accepts Medicaid, the program pays for “long-term care services” such as personal care but does not pay the room and board portion of the costs of assisted living. If you can't continue to live independently in your home due to difficulties bathing, dressing or doing other activities of daily living, assisted living could help you stay independent and active as you age. Take time to consider what services are important to you before visiting assisted living communities. Staff from most assisted living communities will be happy to take you around the apartments and grounds, answering any questions you may have about pricing and amenities.
Assisted living is for people who need help with daily care but not as much as that provided by a nursing home. However, it also offers other benefits such as letting someone else worry about the maintenance and repairs of the home. In general, applicants for assisted living should be able to live independently with assistance, have some mobility and not need ongoing medical care.