What is Assisted Living?

When looking for assistance caring for a loved one the options are numerable.  There is home health, assisted living, skilled nursing, hospice, just to name a few.  In this article, we will focus on what is Assisted Living.

The dictionary defines Assisted Living as a noun.  “Housing for elderly or disabled people that provides nursing care, housekeeping, and prepared meals as needed.” Assisted living encompasses much more than the standard definition.  It is also:

  • A long-term care option that combines housing, support services and health care, as needed.
  • A place to receive assistance with meals, medication management, assistance with bathing, dressing, etc.
  • A place where residents may or may not have memory disorders.
  • A place where Residents may need help with mobility, incontinence or other challenges.

There are different types of licensure for Assisted Livings as well as philosophies of the management that run them.  Once the decision is made to move forward with placing a loved one in assisted living, be sure to do due diligence in finding the best possible place for your love one to reside.

What are the different types of Assisted Living?

There are three different types of Assisted Livings classified by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, Type A, Type B and Type C.  The categorization is linked to life safety code and evacuation procedures. Type A In a type A facility, Resident’s should be able to be physically and mentally able to evacuate a facility without any assistance from staff during sleeping hours.  These Resident’s should be capable of following directions in an emergency situation. Type B Residents who require assistance, either physically and/or mentally, to evacuate a facility under emergency conditions can reside in a type B facility.  This would include Residents who need assistance during nighttime sleeping hours and/or require assistance transferring from a wheelchair. Type C Type C facilities is a four-bed or less home that at minimum meet standards with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services adult foster care. In short, if your loved one is mentally and physically fit and would be able to leave the building in case of an emergency, they could go to a type A.  If they sustained a fall or had a cognitive decline, they might then have to transition to a type B facility. This is important to know as a family member assisting a loved one transitioning to an assisting living.  If your loved one has a fall at assisted living, type A, and now requires physical assistance, they might need to be transferred to a new community with different licensing or the family might need to provide extra provisions such as a caregiver to be with their loved one.   In such an important transition of someone’s life, it is important to understand the different types of Assisted Livings.

What To Look For When Visiting Residences?

People don’t just tour assisted livings because they have an extra hour on their hands.  People tour because something has happened to a loved one (or themselves) in which they have decided a change is necessary. Upon looking, many people can be overwhelmed by whatever catalyst has brought them to the assisted living location.  When going to tour try to keep in mind the following things that might help in making an informed decision:

  • A well-designed community which will meet the needs of your loved one
  • An easy to follow floor plan
  • Wheelchair and walker adapted doorways, hallways and rooms
  • Handrails to aid in walking
  • Easy to reach cabinets and shelves
  • Flooring made of non-skid materials and carpet made to ease walking
  • Natural and artificial lighting appropriately placed
  • An environment clean, free of odors and appropriately heated and cooled.

In addition to the above mentioned observations, ask questions including:

  • What is the staffing ratio?
  • What is the turnover rate?
  • Is the community an age in place community?
  • What are the background qualifications of key personnel?
  • What is the occupancy rate?
  • How many beds is the community licensed for?
  • What steps are needed prior to moving in?

Thoughtful observations and questions will give you and your family a better feel of the community and increase the chances of finding the perfect location.