What is ‘Assisted Living,’ Anyway?

“Assisted living” is a term most people are familiar with, but they usually also have many questions about what it is and is not. How does it differ from nursing home care or independent living? Is it right for me or for my loved one?

Assisted living allows people to remain outside of nursing home care, while still having staff available around the clock to meet their needs. An assisted living center’s goal is to enable each of the people who live there to live as independently as possible, while providing the help needed to keep them safe and healthy.

The staff members at assisted living centers provide individualized assistance with personal services like bathing, dressing and grooming to help each member reach and maintain their highest level of self-care. If necessary, staff also supervises the self-administration of medications and provides housekeeping and personal laundry services. Often a nurse provides expertise with nursing needs and assists with medication questions and prescription refills. The director serves as coordinator of the members’ care to help each person maintain their highest level of independence through dignity, privacy and personal decision making.

Socializing is easy at an assisted living center. There is always someone nearby to spend time with. Most centers offer both private and semi-private rooms, allowing residents to live alone or with a roommate. Assisted living can also be like a luxury cruise. Three meals are served each day so that the residents do not need to cook. Activities are scheduled regularly to help keep them active and vibrant. When new towels are needed, they appear in the bathroom. Need someone to wake you in the morning? Just give a ring. Feel like snoozing the afternoon away? No one will stop you.

Safety should be of great importance with any assisted living center you consider. A monitored emergency call system should be employed, installed in common areas, living areas and especially bathrooms. Medical care should also be readily available. The purpose of assisted living is to be that next step of care and help. It should provide more safety for its residents than they would have living independently.

Constant need-evaluation should also be one of the staff’s priorities. As each person’s needs change, services should be adjusted to meet those needs. Staff should work together to advocate for each member and communicate with medical staff and the family to meet changing needs. While medical care is not part of assisted living, as more assistance is required, physician-ordered home care can provide services within the assisted living center through nursing, therapy or other skilled services.

Speaking of families, a resident’s room at an assisted living center should be treated like any other home. Each resident is encouraged to make the room their own with personal décor and furnishings. Families and friends should visit as often as they would if their loved one was still living independently. Snacks, movies and children are welcome. The dining room is open to visitors as well for a mealtime visit. Family and friends may come celebrate birthdays and holiday parties and other activities throughout the week with their loved one.

An assisted living center, such as Advent Christian Village’s Dacier Manor, is always a hub of activity. Above all, it is a gathering place that its residents call “home.” Family members also become part of the assisted living center “family” and are always welcome. Those who choose assisted living don’t just choose to receive the assistance and care they require, they choose to live a meaningful and fulfilled life. One Dacier Manor resident has called it the “Dacier Marriott,” and says, “It is like living in a resort with family, with compassionate and individualized care in a loving community.” Many of the members at Dacier Manor say they wish they had moved in sooner.

If you or your loved one is interested in receiving a little more help with daily personal care, I encourage you to research the assisted living options in your area. Or, if you’d like to settle in north Florida, give Dacier Manor a call. You won’t regret it.

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