Is a “retirement community” or “assisted living” the same as a “nursing home”?
While the senior living industry continues to evolve, some common misconceptions remain. Learn the truth about assisted living, and debunk five frequent senior living myths.
Myth #1: “Assisted living” is just another way to say “nursing home.”
Truth: Many people think of “nursing home” as a catch-all term for senior living. However, assisted living communities and nursing homes are actually two separate types of senior living facility that provide different levels of care.
While both types of communities offer help with activities of daily living (ADLs), nursing homes provide the highest level of care and are designed for people with major medical needs who require assistance with medications and nearly all their daily living tasks, such as eating, bathing, and getting in and out of bed. Nursing home residents typically have either private or shared rooms and can receive rehabilitative care including surgical and medical recovery on-site.
Assisted living communities, however, provide housing and care to seniors who may need some help with daily tasks — like getting dressed or housekeeping — but don’t require skilled nursing from medical professionals. These communities typically feature private apartments, 24/7 staff to help with ADLs, three meals a day, transportation, housekeeping, and laundry services. Some assisted living communities offer additional medical and memory care services on the basis of individual need.
Dive deeper into assisted living care. Now that you’ve learned the differences between nursing homes and assisted living communities, get a clearer picture of what types of care assisted living offers, and how your loved one’s needs will help determine costs.
Myth #2: My mom or dad won’t enjoy an assisted living community.
Truth: According to a 2016 survey by A Place for Mom and Sage Projections, a Seattle-based research company, 73% of families report that a senior loved one’s quality of life improved after moving to assisted living. Additionally, 60% of caregivers found that their personal quality of life improved.
Discover new freedom and excitement. Today, communities offer many amenities and services that make life easier for residents and create exciting lifestyles. See how assisted living can be so much more to your loved one than just a place to live.
Explore the benefits. Once seniors make the move to assisted living, they often find that healthy lifestyles are easy to achieve with specialized dining, tailored exercise programs, and senior-friendly safety measures.
Learn how to communicate with seniors who won’t listen. Moving to assisted living can be an emotional transition. If your aging loved one needs assisted living but denies the benefits, it can be difficult to have productive discussions on the topic. Explore methods for talking to elderly loved ones about moving to a safer, easier living environment that fits their needs.
Myth #3: Family should care for their elders at home.
Truth: While caregiving can strengthen and bring joy to relationships, it can also affect the caregiver’s ability to work, engage in social interactions, and maintain good physical and mental health. As a result, the quality of care they provide often suffers.
Just as you aim for the best life possible for your parent or elderly loved one, you should expect the same for yourself. Choosing assisted living could lead to a happier, healthier life for both of you.
Understand caregiving duties. As time goes on, your loved one’s health needs will change. See what responsibilities go into caring for an aging loved one.
Set some caregiving limits. Having a full life can make the full-time job of caregiving difficult. Learn when it’s time to change how you’re providing care and how to navigate the tough discussions that can go along with that decision.
Myth #4: Assisted living is too expensive.
Truth: The cost of assisted living is often the same or less than receiving the same care and services at home.
The median monthly cost for assisted living in the United States is $4,300, according to Genworth’s 2020 Cost of Care Survey. While that amount may seem high, it includes everything many seniors need, including housing, meals, transportation, activities, help with day-to-day tasks, medication management, and more.
Get a cost breakdown. Some communities have different cost models to calculate their expenses. Find out more about average costs by state, typical fees, and what’s covered by expenses.
Learn about VA benefits. Veterans and their spouses may be eligible for the VA’s Aid and Attendance program to help with the costs of assisted living.
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Myth #5: The food isn’t good and the activities are boring.
Truth: Senior living communities are responding to people’s preferences for fine dining and high-tech fun.
“Now that the Baby Boomer generation is entering senior living, we’re starting to see assisted living communities change to reflect a more demanding consumer,” says Sue Johansen, senior vice president of APFM’s community network. “We think about bingo and the senior communities. But more and more, there are virtual reality theaters, spas, and lots of different activities to stay social.”
As for meals, dining options look more like restaurants and less like buffet lines, adds Johansen. In some higher-end communities, you’ll find bars, sushi, and other fine dining options seniors are used to having available.
Choose the right community. Touring is a great way to learn about communities’ cultures and how they incorporate fun into residents’ schedules. Adding a meal to your tour can show what dining options are available and if your loved one’s taste buds approve.
Learn about loss of appetite. Communities understand how to combat things like senior malnutrition and loss of appetite, and can create tailored meal plans for your loved one. Having this expertise baked into your loved one’s diet can be a major benefit of assisted living.
Explore activities and common areas. Learn about the newfound sense of excitement many seniors experience when they move to assisted living. Active social lives with full calendars are commonly found in assisted living communities.