Do you call your parents every morning to make sure they got up? Do you stop over once a day to ensure they took their medicine? Do you receive calls because your parents can’t find something? Are you hesitant to schedule a vacation with your spouse because you don’t know who’ll take care of Mom and Dad while you’re gone? Imagine never worrying about your parents’ safety again. Imagine seeing them embark on new adventures, learn new skills or pick up old hobbies. Imagine never receiving a frantic call in the middle of a business meeting or having to leave a concert to run to your parents’ home. That reassurance is what Assisted Living is all about.
What is Assisted Living?
Assisted Living is a concept first implemented in 1981, when Park Place opened its doors. Assisted Living varies from small private establishments to large for-profit and not-for-profit establishments and includes personal care and board homes, group homes and residential care homes.
The vast majority are apartment communities which offer services based on the needs of individual residents. Services usually include housing, meals, transportation, socialization, and housekeeping. Optional services may include dressing help, medication reminders, bathing help, physical therapy, exercise classes and more.
Because care is tailored to the individual using personalized service plans, there is no typical day at an Assisted Living community.
Individual Care Means There Is No Typical Day
However, at a typical Assisted Living apartment, a resident who needs a lot of care may be awakened by the door bell ringing at the time she asked for help dressing. An assistant may help your mother out of bed and into the bathroom. The aide will turn on the shower, then help her get out of her night clothes and into the walk-in shower. If the service plan specifies, she may wait outside to ensure your mother has showered, then help her dress. It's likely she'll also pick up her clothes and put them in the hamper to be washed, depending on your mother's wishes. If it's part of the service plan, the aide will also remind her to take her medication.
On the other hand, a resident who needs little care will wake up whenever he wants, lounge around in his pajamas while reading the paper. He may take a shower or skip it that day. Instead of dressing for breakfast, he may crack open a couple of eggs from his refrigerator and make an omelet on his stove.
Meals are nutritious and provide opportunities for socialization
Some residents will still choose to fry their own omelets; however, most residents prefer to walk to the dining room to dine with friends because meals are varied and nutritious. Besides, wouldn’t you enjoy a short walk to stimulate your appetite before being served a delicious meal?
The dining room menu varies each meal and each day, and it will frequently include comfort foods, such as oatmeal for breakfast or macaroni and cheese for dinner, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. Menus are designed by a dietitian, and meals are served restaurant-style.
Enjoy activities at home or nearby
After breakfast, your parent has a choice of classes or activities. Programs frequently include exercise, mind games, and spiritual activities. Seasonal fun, such as carving or painting pumpkins, are always provided.
The goal of Assisted Living is to enhance residents’ minds, bodies, and spirits by creating a mentally, physically, and spiritually stimulating environment.
Some Assisted Living communities provide transportation to and from scheduled activities, such as concerts, theater or bowling, in nearby towns. Communities usually offer opportunities for seasonal events, such as visiting a pumpkin farm or watching a Christmas parade.
If your parent prefers to stay home, he can enjoy his residence or wander out to the garden, take a walk, get a haircut, or visit the media room. Most Assisted Living communities offer community areas, such as libraries, living rooms, beauty salons, outdoor porches, and gardens, where residents, family and guests may gather to socialize.
Public and private areas are accessible
Assisted Living communities are handicap-accessible to make life easier for those with minor handicaps, such as a hip replacement.
For those residents recovering from debilitating illnesses or conditions, such as a stroke, physical therapy is usually available.
Independence is encouraged
Independence is encouraged, so residents may keep and drive their own vehicles. They may enjoy beer or wine as they wish. Smokers are welcome, too, in most communities.
Your parent chooses which activities and how much or how little she does each day. He can change his mind at any time and inform the person helping him that, for example, he has decided to wake up a couple of hours later than his usual time.
Staff care for residents
Major deviations from the individualized care plan are documented so you'll know if your parent has refused medication. At most communities, a nurse is on call after hours, and nursing staff is available seven days a week.
Staff members get to know your parent by name, as well as by her preferences.They are also trained in how to deal with sensory and memory issues that may hamper communication, as well as special instruction in safety. Staff encourage residents to participate in activities and meet new friends, even to the point of making a special effort to introduce residents or ensure a resident knows the time of an activity.
Visitors are encouraged
In Assisted Living, families and friends are encouraged to visit. Guests may dine with residents in the dining room or, in some communities, they may book a private room for special events. Some places even offer rooms on the grounds that may be rented by guests.
With customized care and a multitude of activities, your mother need never experience a typical day. Indeed, why would she want to?
Experience Assisted Living
The best way to experience a typical day at an Assisted Living community is to schedule a tour. You’ll tour residences and learn about the varied floor plans. You’ll be shown the exercise center, beauty salon and any other amenities of interest to your parent. You can even share a nutritious meal in the dining room and be introduced to residents.For an even more interactive experience, schedule a couple of days for a short stay, also called respite care. Your mother will be treated as if she lives in the community. She will receive only the services she wants with the reassurance that care is always close and available.
Helping The Reluctant Parent
Parents are accustomed to doing things their own way. They also may be reluctant even to consider change. Discover how best to approach them by reading, “How to Persuade Your Aging Parents to Consider Assisted Living.”
- How to explain Assisted Living to your parent
- How to answer your parent’s questions about Assisted Living
- Actions to take now to help your parent
- Common objections your parent may raise about moving