Many seniors, caregivers, and the families of seniors may wonder: What are the requirements for assisted living? Assisted living is one of the main care options available to adults as they age, and millions of Americans currently reside in assisted living facilities.
Although living in an assisted living facility is the best choice for many seniors, it won’t be the right option for everyone. Here, we’ll cover what an assisted living facility is, what the assisted living requirements are, and what living in an assisted living facility means for your day-to-day lifestyle. From this information, you can make an educated decision about whether an assisted living will work for you as you age into the golden years.
What is assisted living?
Assisted living is a type of long-term care that provides limited day-to-day attention for seniors seeking independence. For example, the resident may only receive help with medication administration or infrequent skilled nursing care.
Assisted living can create a safe living environment for seniors without them feeling like their privacy, independence, or regular lifestyle has been compromised. Loved ones will have peace of mind in knowing that seniors have 24-hour access to help if needed, and they’re supervised in the case of an emergency. The senior’s quality of life will be enhanced without infringing on their ability to feel competent and self-supporting.
Assisted living services may take many forms, providing flexibility for seniors seeking as much independence as possible. While older adults may choose to live in facilities that solely provide assisted living, these services may also be provided in skilled nursing homes, hospitals, independent living complexes, and retirement communities.
Many seniors opt for assisted living for the following reasons:
- Personal needs and preferences are the priority in residents’ care plans. Seniors can receive care and medical attention only as needed so that they stay largely independent.
- The flexibility to alter the care plan as a senior’s needs shift is provided.
- Seniors generally feel a greater sense of self-sufficiency, dignity, and control in assisted living facilities when compared to other long-term care options.
- Assisted living services to facilitate interaction with friends, family, and the community, so seniors don’t feel secluded.
Assisted living services
Different facilities may vary in the assisted living services that they offer. Typically, the goal of these services is to keep the senior healthy, supported, and comfortable while encouraging independence.
Assisted living services include:
- 24-hour supervision and support as needed
- Medication administration, or support for personal medication administration
- Housekeeping, laundry, and home maintenance
- Transportation or transportation planning
- Meal preparation
- Social and community services
- Social and recreational activities
- Health, wellness, and exercise programs or facilities
- Dementia and disability care
Seniors in assisted living facilities may have access to most or all of these services. They generally have the freedom to choose which services they receive. This helps seniors feel in control of their lifestyle and build a day-to-day routine that they enjoy.
Who can benefit from assisted living?
Assisted living is a top care choice among many seniors, namely:
- Those who need professional medical assistance infrequently
- Those who need help with specific, minimal tasks on a day-to-day basis
- Those who don’t yet need the full scope of care provided in a nursing home, but can’t safely live completely independently
- Those who need access to care but want to maintain their independence and privacy for as long as possible
- Those who want to (and are able) to be active members of the community
Most seniors who move into an assisted living facility do so because they need help completing activities of daily living, or “ADLs“. These activities include personal care, hygiene, cooking or preparing meals, medication administration, mobility, etc. The ability to complete ADLs unassisted can wane with age, and assisted living is one of the early steps in getting seniors the help that they need on a daily basis.
The care and supervision provided by assisted living services are reduced when compared to other types of long-term care. As such, assisted living isn’t a fitting choice for seniors in certain stages of the aging process. Older adults in the following circumstances likely need a different care option than assisted living to stay healthy:
- Those who require a wheelchair for mobility
- Those with a severe or late-stage cognitive disability
- Those with complex or involved medical needs
- Those who exhibit dangerous behaviors such as wandering
- Those who need daily nursing services
Assisted living requirements
The requirements for admission into an assisted living facility is much the same as they are for nursing homes, hospitals, and other long-term care facilities. Seniors will be asked to submit the following materials:
- Facility admissions forms, including a resident agreement outlining the services to be provided and the required fees
- Medical history and physical assessment, which should be completed by the future resident’s physician. Typically, the physical assessment should be done a month or less prior to the start date for services.
- Functional assessment, which will be completed by a facility nurse or manager. This assessment is completed as a reference to document the senior’s abilities to complete daily tasks like eating, bathing, dressing, and moving from place to place. This assessment will also record the senior’s individual needs and capacity for social interactions. It functions as a guide when determining how much assistance should be provided to the senior.
- Care plan, which will provide the resident with details on the services they’ll receive. The plan should explain when and how the services will be provided, as well as who will administer them. This plan provides residents to make adjustments as needed to fit their preferences and comfort level. Generally, care plans are updated at least every six months to account for changing needs.
Assisted living is a viable long-term care option for many seniors. Assisted living requirements are very similar to that of other care services; the process of applying for admission into assisted living facilities is manageable for seniors and their families. With its increased flexibility and focus on promoting independence, older adults may enjoy living with a heightened quality of life under assisted living services.
More from SeniorsMatter.com:
“The Basics Of Assisted Living.” National Caregivers Library, FamilyCare America, Inc., www.caregiverslibrary.org/caregivers-resources/grp-care-facilities/hsgrp-assisted-living-facilities/the-basics-of-assisted-living-article.aspx.
“Elder Care Criteria & Senior Living Admissions.” SeniorLiving.org, SeniorLiving.org, 12 Sept. 2018, www.seniorliving.org/care/admissions-criteria/
Gilley, Rachel. “Admissions Process.” Taking Care of Mom and Dad Main, Baltimore County Department of Aging, 7 Dec. 2015, takingcareofmomanddad.net/assistedliving/admissioneligibility/admissionprocess.html.
“What Is Assisted Living?” National Center for Assisted Living, National Center for Assisted Living, www.ahcancal.org/ncal/about/assistedliving/Pages/What-is-Assisted-Living.aspx.