8 Things to Know About Assisted Living

When older adults start needing help with activities of daily living, some turn to an assisted living community. These residential communities offer support and care, as well as a vibrant residential community full of amenities and social activities.

But when looking at numerous options in your area or beyond, how do you what makes a good assisted living community? A combination of factors, such as location and feel, will come into play. But as you’re beginning your search for the right community, here are 8 things you need to know about assisted living to help you compare and contrast and ultimately find the best fit.

1. Each Assisted Living Community is Unique.

Each assisted living community will have a unique look and feel, many times determined by its location. Assisted living communities may consist of a small, intimate group of cottages nestled in a community or neighborhood, a sprawling complex in the suburbs, or a towering building in the center of a bustling city.

The community can have a relatively small number of residents or may have hundreds of residents living in a large complex. Some communities will have a more homelike ambiance while others will feel formal and traditional. Some will be decorated using mid-century modern design techniques while others sport art deco décor. It’s all a matter of your personal preference, which is why options abound.

Assisted living communities come in all sizes and shapes, giving you choices so you can enjoy retirement in a location and atmosphere that is familiar and comfortable to you. Even two communities in the same city that look almost identical on the exterior can have a very different feel once you pass through the front door.

2. Communities Offer Different Levels of Care.

Although assisted living communities are regulated in all 50 states, there is no universal definition as to what assisted living really means. Therefore, communities that refer to themselves as assisted living can provide varying levels of care.

Assisted living communities all provide support to those who cannot live independently, but some may offer only “light” assistance while others cater to those who need assistance while eating or who are bedridden. The level of care a community provides may be determined by its licensing status. Many states operate with a tiered licensing system. A community on a higher tier of the licensing standards can provide higher levels of care, for example.

3. Assisted Living Communities May Not Have Doctors On Site.

Although assisted living communities provide basic medical care such as diabetes oversight and include solutions for medication management, doctors may not be on site. Most communities do have a full-time nurse on staff. Some are registered nurses, but most are licensed, vocational nurses.

Some communities handle intermittent medical needs by having the residents arrange for medical assistance through a home health agency. Others hire more medical staff and can provide heightened care. And others will have a doctor on-site a few days a week. You will need to consult with the management for specific details about the community you are considering.

4. An Assisted Living Community is Not a Nursing Home.

Although many people begin their search for senior care using the term “nursing home,” this term often leads them to search for the wrong types of senior living because of a disconnect between public perception of senior care options and the actual care options available. Assisted living care is not nursing home care.

Although both assist with activities of daily living (ADLs), residents in assisted living communities remain as independent as possible, often only requiring assistance with personal care needs such as grooming, dressing, and bathing. Residents in nursing homes often require around-the-clock assistance, are often confined to a bed and need help with many, if not all, ADLs.

Residents in a nursing home often share a room. In contrast, people staying in assisted living communities generally live in their own studio or one-bedroom apartment. Nursing home residents need skilled nursing care on a daily basis. But residents in assisted living do not require ongoing medical attention, although they are provided with medication management along with minor medical supervision such as diabetes management.

If in doubt, get assessed by a medical professional or senior advisor to help you determine what type of care you need.

5. Assisted Living Costs Can Be More Reasonable Than Other Care Options.

When it is no longer feasible to live independently, one care option many people consider is remaining in their own home. Although this is an option that many prefer, when you compare the cost of continuing to maintain a home along with the additional costs of hiring a personal home care aide to that of moving into an assisted living community, you may be surprised.

Online calculators are available to help make a cost of living comparison using specific costs and care needs. Genworth’s calculator can also be used to help determine long-term care costs.

If you have purchased long-term care insurance, it can be used to help offset care costs. Veterans who qualify may be eligible for Veteran Aid & Attendance benefits to help offset the cost of care. Those with low income may be able to use Medicaid to pay for their care. To explore this and other options, contact your local Area Agency on Aging Office. Also, check out our blog post, Deciding Between Assisted Living and Home Care? Here Are Some Things to Consider.

6. Are Pets Allowed in Assisted Living Communities?

This is great if you have or like pets, but maybe not so good if you suffer from allergies or otherwise dislike animals. If this is the case, make an inquiry about pets at the communities you are interested in visiting.

Senior living communities have varying pet policies. Some have specific breed restrictions and weight limits. Many communities, including Homestead at Hamilton, understand the value of sharing your life with a pet and encourage you to bring your pet into the community. We find that Homestead assisted living goes well when residents are allowed to have animal companions.

Some communities actually conduct “pet interviews” to determine how well your furry companion will adapt to the community. Birds and fish are also welcome, although the community might place weight limits on aquariums, especially in multi-storage buildings. Some communities even have pet coordinators to assist with the care of your pet companions. Be sure to contact communities you are considering and inquire into their pet policies if you intend to share your home with a pet.

For more information about sharing your life with a pet, check out our blog post, The Health Benefits of Owning a Pet and Pet-Friendly Places in Hamilton, NJ.

Resource: 7 Reasons Having a Pet Can Be Good for Your Health

7. Some Communities Offer Dementia Care.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 50 million people have dementia across the globe, with nearly 10 million new cases being diagnosed every year. WHO researchers project that by 2030, the total number of people with dementia will reach 82 million. By 2050, that number is projected to reach an astonishing 152 million worldwide.

According to the Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention, at least five million people in the United States are dealing with age-related dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association, however, provides even higher numbers. It estimates that 5.7 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s. And the numbers are expected to grow. Someone in the United States is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s every 65 seconds, and by 2050, that rate is expected to increase to one every 33 seconds.

Resource: Learn More About Dementia

Individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s will likely require some form of specialized care, many in memory care communities. Early on, dementia patients are often able to live at assisted living communities, but as symptoms worsen, they may be required to transition to specialized memory care units that may provide greater security, reduce agitation and frustration, and improve quality of life. Staff are specially trained to deal with the needs of the memory-impaired population. At Hamilton, we offer Valeo™ memory care, we’re focused on maximizing the abilities of those living with memory impairment in a comfortable place that feels like home. If you would like to learn more about our community, please download our memory care resource guide.

What is the difference between Assisted Living and Memory Care? Check out our blog post, Assisted Living vs. Memory Care, for more information.

8. Keeping Couples Together May Require Planning.

After sharing so many years of their life, married couples want to remain together as they move into an assisted living community. However, this can become increasingly difficult when each person has differing care needs and even more so as care needs change.

Communities understand a couple’s desire to remain together and most will work to accommodate couples. Sometimes communities have double occupancy apartments, which come with a premium price tag. If you are looking for a community where a married couple can remain together, do your homework. Look at the sizes of apartments that are available and determine the space needed by the two people as you look for Hamilton assisted living communities.

Tips for Finding Assisted Living in New Jersey

When you have determined it is time for you or a family member to move to an assisted living community, the next step is to locate a facility that will address all of your current as well as potential future needs. Here are some tips to help you find the best Hamilton, New Jersey, assisted living community.

Determine Your Current Care Needs

Perhaps you have modest needs regarding boarding and general care, or you might need advanced assistance with memory care too.

Think About What Your Future Needs

What will you do if you develop physical limitations and need extra assistance? Find a facility that can continue to offer services as your needs evolve.

Consider Location

Is your goal to stay near family in the same community? Perhaps you have doctors or other health care professionals that you want to continue seeing, necessitating that you locate a Hamilton, New Jersey, assisted living community closer to your current home.

Visit the Community to See the Atmosphere

Could you imagine yourself having a pleasant time staying there? Make a point of checking out what kind of entertainment options are available and how the food is (it should be nutritious as well as tasty, and you can find out by asking for a sample when you visit).

Make a List

Write down any special requirements or desires you have for a community and bring it with you when you visit the facilities to see if they can meet your needs.

Discover Homestead at Hamilton

To help in your decision-making process, visit us at Homestead at Hamilton, a premier senior living community located in Hamilton Township. We are currently offering virtual visits. We’re here to take your calls and offer a personalized virtual tour.

Our Hamilton assisted living professionals are standing by to help. We would love to answer any questions you may still have about your senior living options. You are invited to attend our open house events, which take place every Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. What’s more, our team has created a handy resource guide to help answer your questions. To learn more about Homestead at Hamilton or to make an appointment to visit, please contact us today.


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