Board and care facilities offer room, board, and 24-hour assisted living services to all residents. Assisted living is as simple as the name suggests — receiving help on a daily basis for certain everyday things. This doesn’t mean you are completely dependent on someone else. In fact, you must be fairly independent in order to even qualify for assisted living in the first place. Board and care centers that offer assisted living are long-term care facilities that provide services like healthcare and housing, among others, to those who need some assistance with day-to-day activities. The keyword here is ‘some’ assistance. If you or your loved one is having difficulty completing at least two of the daily tasks listed below, then it may be time to consider an assisted living facility (ALF).
- Brushing teeth
- Paying bills/managing finances
There are several misconceptions about assisted living facilities that can prevent people from considering this type of care.
- Hospital atmosphere – Assisted living facilities are often associated with nursing homes or living in a hospital environment full of long, white hallways and medical equipment. Neither of which is true. They are not designed with a hospital aesthetic in mind, but rather a cozy condominium or group home environment. All assisted living communities vary according to location. Some may be large apartment buildings in the city, while others are smaller complexes in the suburbs. Typically, both will offer private or semi-private, studio or one-bedroom apartment options from which to choose.
- No personalization – The staff wants their residents to feel as comfortable as possible. Most assisted living facilities encourage new residents to bring their own furniture and decor for their rooms. This is in an effort to personalize their living space and feel more at ease with the transition. Some assisted living communities even allow pets, so long as the owner is still able to care for them. Just be sure to check with the community’s specific pet policy prior to moving as some have weight and breed restrictions.
- No independence – Unlike nursing home residents who require assistance with every activity of daily living, in addition to skilled nursing medical attention — assisted living residents are quite mobile on their own. They may need some assistance with bathing and dressing, but they are able to get by and don’t need continuous medical attention. While transportation services are offered, some communities allow residents to keep their cars if they still want to drive themselves.
- No specialized care – Some communities have resources in place to care for those with onset memory impairments like Dementia or Alzheimers. Even if your loved one does not require this type of care at the moment if you think they might in the future, it would be a good idea to find a facility providing this service. This way you know that if they do begin to show signs, you won’t need to uproot them to a different facility. It is still important to check with each community that offers these specialized services in order to determine the extent to which they are able to assist at that particular location.
Some assisted living facilities offer short-term stay programs. This is a great option to look into when researching locations as it allows your loved one to experience the community and make a more informed decision about their own long-term care. The key to making this process less stressful and daunting for you and your loved one is to begin the conversation early. Plan a couple of trips to look at various communities. Once you’ve narrowed down your options to a handful of places, visit them regularly and at various times of the day to get a genuine feel for what it’s like to live there. Talk to the staff and other residents if you get the chance and see what they have to say about the various aspects of the community like amenities offered, location type of care, and its overall atmosphere. Don’t hasten the process and act out of desperation in order to have a plan in place. Choosing to live in an assisted living facility is a major life decision and should be treated as such.