Every year more than 700,000 seniors receive support from residential care communities, including assisted living facilities. By 2050, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Labor estimate that the number of individuals using paid long-term care services in any setting — whether at home or in residential care settings, such as assisted living or skilled nursing facilities — will likely double from the 13 million using services in 2000 to 27 million people.
Why? As the population ages, seniors are increasingly taking advantage of new options to improve their quality of life, including moving into assisted living communities.
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a smart option for seniors who need some help with everyday tasks such as getting dressed, bathing, preparing meals, and taking medications. It can also accommodate specific care plans to address poor nutrition or other individualized needs.
The benefits of assisted living can extend far beyond support with activities of daily living, though. Most assisted living facilities are designed to provide opportunities for residents to enjoy a life they choose with the comforts of home through a variety of living options, amenities, assistance, services, dining options, social programs, and customized personalized care.
How Does Assisted Living Improve Quality of Life?
Two researchers — Judith M. Mitchell and Bryan J. Kemp — conducted a study that examined the impact of living in assisted living on the quality of life of senior residents. Their results were published in The Journals of Gerontology.
According to the researchers, “assisted living homes can improve resident quality of life by creating a cohesive social environment and encouraging social participation and family involvement.”
Here’s a closer look at the ways moving to assisted living may improve a senior’s quality of life.
Assisted Living Creates a Cohesive Social Environment
Living at home can be isolating. It can be difficult for seniors to maintain their social relationships when they are no longer working. In some cases, mobility or other disability may cause social isolation. In others, people may purposely isolate themselves when they are depressed or anxious or have low self-worth.
Assisted living communities provide an environment for seniors to thrive and gain their independence back by getting active and social once again. Not only does assisted living provide residents with care and supportive services, but it also gives aging adults the chance to reinvent themselves through a variety of activities, programs, and outings.
The researchers’ findings “suggest that it is the social component of residents’ lives that makes the greatest contribution to positive [quality of life] and fewer symptoms of depression.”
According to the researchers, assisted living facilities with high “cohesive” environments have staff members who are involved with and supportive of residents and residents who are involved with one another.
Assisted Living Encourages Family Involvement
A parent’s declining health can either draw a family together or break it apart. Sometimes, caregiving places financial, emotional, and physical stress on the caregiver that strains their relationships with their loved ones. Assisted living allows caregivers to spend more time enjoying their relationship with their parent instead of taking care of them.
Assisted living communities that encourage at least monthly family involvement improve residents’ quality of life because, according to researchers, family bonds are even more valued by residents than social contact with other residents. Assisted living facilities often encourage visits from family and friends and plan special events where family and friends are welcome to join.
What Is Assisted Living Really Like?
Ultimately, assisted living communities are designed to encourage independence, and the more homelike and warm the community is, the happier and more content the residents are.
Still wondering if assisted living is right for you or a loved one? Download our What Is Assisted Living Really Like? eBook to learn about the ways assisted living has changed over the years, what a typical day in assisted living looks like today, the staff you’ll usually meet in assisted living facilities, and how assisted living actually feels like home.