What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is part of a continuum of long term care services that provides a combination of housing, personal care services, and health care designed to respond to individuals who need assistance with normal daily activities in a way that promotes maximum independence.
Assisted living services can be provided in freestanding communities, near or integrated with skilled nursing homes or hospitals, as components of continuing care retirement communities, or at independent housing complexes.
Assisted living communities offer a multi-faceted residential setting that provides personal care services, 24-hour supervision and assistance, activities and health-related services, designed to:
- Minimize the need to relocate;
- Accommodate individual residents’ changing needs and preferences;
- Maximize residents’ dignity, autonomy, privacy, independence, choice and safety; and
- Encourage family and community involvement.
Most assisted living residents are seniors, including those with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Some communities serve individuals of any age with developmental disabilities while other communities serve individuals with particular medical conditions or needs.
Certification of Communities
In most states, assisted living communities are registered, licensed or certified by an appropriate department or agency of the state that has a process for issuance of initial licenses and for renewing existing licenses.
Services and Activities
The services and activities provided or arranged for in assisted living communities promote the quality of life and independence of the individual, and generally include:
- 24-hour supervision
- 3 meals a day in a group dining room
- 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
Each resident receives individualized services to help him/her function within the assisted living community.
Personal Care and Health Services
Assisted living communities provide supervision or assistance with activities of daily living (ADL’s); 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 community 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.
It is important to remember that assisted living communities are a bridge between living at home and living in a nursing home. Assisted living communities do not typically provide the level of continuous skilled nursing care found in nursing homes and hospitals.
Accommodations and options may vary greatly from one assisted living community to the next (e.g. private rooms, private baths, kitchenettes, etc.). Personal needs and preferences are important criteria for selecting a community and the amenities it offers.
Most communities are constructed and equipped to comply with a host of local, state and federal regulations. Assisted living communities are designed to be operated, staffed and maintained in a manner appropriate to the needs and desires of the residents served. Caring for residents with Alzheimer’s or other dementias and disabilities requires a community design and philosophy that assure resident safety and autonomy.