September 9th to September 15th is the National Center for Assisted Living’s Annual National Assisted Living Week. The purpose of this week is to raise awareness on assisted living facilities, show appreciation for the staff of these facilities, and encourage assisted living facilities all over the country to organize special activities and events for their residents.
Assisted living facilities are designed to provide care to seniors during normal daily activities. They allow for seniors to keep their independence while making tasks easier, in a facility that encourages hobbies and socialization.
Many times, people assume that assisted living facilities are the same as nursing homes. But these are two separate types of communities, and it’s important to understand the differences between the two.
There are many negative myths surrounding assisted living that can cause seniors and their family members to be weary of even making it an option. But it’s important to break the stigmas and emphasize on how these facilities can aid seniors with tasks while respecting their freedom.
8 Assisted Living Myths
MYTH 1: Assisted living is only for seniors who are sick or disabled.
Truth: As explained previously, those who are ill or injured typically reside in nursing homes, not assisted living facilities. Nursing homes provide nursing and medical care to the elderly, but assisted living is for seniors who only need limited care. Assisted living is best for seniors who are mostly independent but do not feel safe completing activities of daily living on their own.
MYTH 2: Seniors lose their independence and privacy.
Truth: Assisted living facilities pride themselves on making seniors feel as independent as possible. Because limited care is provided, seniors can feel at home and spend their days on their own schedule. Most assisted living communities offer various apartments with different floor plans to choose from. Within these apartments, seniors are free to furnish and decorate their space with their own items. Additionally, seniors have control over the locks on their apartment doors, which gives them privacy and security.
MYTH 3: There are no opportunities for hobbies or socialization.
Truth: These communities offer a variety of enrichment programs and wellness opportunities for seniors to choose from. Residents of a community can select the activities they want to do each day, ranging from Yoga classes, crafting classes, sports, board games, and much more. There are many chances for the seniors to socialize with their peers while participating in a hobby that they enjoy. They are able to participate as much or as little as they want to; there are no forced activities or set schedules for them.
MYTH 4: All assisted living communities are the same.
Truth: Assisted living communities can vary when it comes to the physical layout and how extensive the care plans and services are. While assisted living facilities only offer limited care, some also may offer a little extra help with transportation and health services for those who require more in-depth medical attention. Facilities can differ in size; some are built in the style of an apartment building that can house many people and some are built as a small sized home. Also, some of the living units may have single or double rooms, with varying features and accommodations.
MYTH 5: Seniors lose car privileges when in assisted living.
Truth: As long as the senior is able to operate a vehicle safely, they do not have to surrender their driving rights if they move into an assisted living community. As part of assuring independence, the communities encourage the use of cars as long as it is not a safety hazard for the resident. This allows for even more freedom in leaving the residence to run errands, visit friends and family, or be involved in any outside activity of their choosing.
MYTH 6: Seniors will feel alone or abandoned.
Truth: Considering there is a wide range of social activities to choose from, seniors don’t necessarily need to worry about feeling alone. They can connect with others who are living in the community and find people who are interested in similar hobbies. Family members and friends can also spend time with the senior there, making it feel even more like a home.
MYTH 7: Assisted living employees don’t care about their residents.
Truth: Staff members and caregivers are typically passionate about making the residents happy. Caregivers work hard to assist seniors with tasks in a professional and friendly manner. Other staff members make sure to stay on top of living conditions and the overall well-being and happiness of the residents. If there is ever any concern coming from one of the residents, they should be more than willing to help in solving the problem.
MYTH 8: Assisted living and retirement living are the same thing.
Truth: Retirement communities are actually different from assisted living communities. People who live in retirement communities are generally able to care for themselves, whereas residents in assisted living require some type of daily care from a caregiver. In retirement communities, there are usually groups of apartment buildings that share common areas. Assisted living communities may have a similar setup, but they also include the assistance from caregivers.
It’s important to recognize the myths vs realities when it comes to assisted living. It can be challenging and stressful for a senior to move out of their own home that they are accustomed to living in. But if they find a community that meets their needs, they will be less stressed in the long run.