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Assisted Living Today: An Overview for Caregivers

The philosophy of assisted living is to provide supervision, assistance, and personal care services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities as needed. The goal is to maintain maximum independence in a home-like setting, while providing individualized care and assistance. Assisted living offers a unique mix of security and independence, privacy and companionship, care and services.

Choosing the appropriate assisted living residence can make all the difference in an individual's mental, physical, and social well being.

Assisted living services can be provided in freestanding residences, near or integrated with skilled nursing homes or hospitals, as components of continuing care retirement communities, or at independent housing complexes.

Services and activities include:
• 24-hour supervision
• 3 meals a day in group dining room
• A range of services that promote the quality of life and independence of the individual
• Personal care services (help with bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.)
• Medication management, or assistance with self-administration of medicine
• Social services
• Supervision and assistance for persons with Alzheimer's or other dementias and disabilities
• Recreational and spiritual activities
• Exercise and wellness programs
• Laundry and linen service
• Housekeeping and maintenance
• Arrangements for transportation

Assisted living residences provide supervision or assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs); coordination of services by outside health care providers; and monitoring of resident activities to help to ensure his or her health, safety, and well-being. Assistance may include the administration or supervision of medication, or certain personal care services by a trained staff person.

The residence may assist in arranging the appropriate medical, health, and dental care services for each resident. The resident generally chooses his or her medical doctor and dental services.

Residents who have periods of temporary incapacity due to illness, injury, or recuperation from surgery often are allowed to remain in the residence or to return from a rehabilitation center, skilled nursing facility or hospital if appropriate services can be provided by the assisted living residence. It is important to remember that assisted living residences are a bridge between living at home and living in a nursing home. Assisted living residences do not typically provide the level of continuous skilled nursing care found in nursing homes and hospitals.

A residence is defined by the scope of services it provides, not by the number of residents it serves. It is important for residents and families to understand what services the residence offers, as well as the costs and limitations of those services.

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Boomers Resource Guide is a special supplement to the Senior Citizen's Guide