As written by Beth Weeks, RN, of Senior Living Consultants of New York
I’m not exactly sure when this happened, but at some point someone said that in order to move into assisted living, prospective residents must be able to walk 150 feet.
The danger of this rumor is that many, many seniors who could have benefited from the support, care and social stimulation of assisted living or memory care weren’t even given the opportunity to explore this option.
Let’s quickly review the three most common types of senior living communities in New York: independent living, assisted living and memory care.
Independent living is an unlicensed senior living option that provides a home-like setting, social activities and some or all meals (depending on the provider, breakfast or lunch may be at an additional charge). Other services, such as transportation, fitness centers and access to home care services vary by community. Independent living can be a great option for folks who are truly independent and looking for a more amenity-based stay, but it also can benefit seniors whose needs are significant and can be met by private home care in a structured setting.
Assisted living is definitely not a one-size-fits-all model. Regardless of their type of license, all assisted living communities are required to provide 24-hour staff for supervision and oversight, all meals, laundry and housekeeping services, case management, assistance with personal care and medication management (if needed) and social activities. There are many different levels of care that are offered in this setting and they vary widely by community. For example, there are communities that have a lower level license and cater to more mobile and active seniors who may just require some basic assistance with their activities of daily living; and then there are communities that provide skilled services, such as catheter and ostomy care. The latter of these two can even provide two-person transfer assistance (some are able to utilize Hoyer lifts) and can accommodate residents in wheelchairs.
Memory care, sometimes known as a Special Needs Assisted Living Residence, is what the name implies – specialized care for those with memory impairment. However, just because someone has a dementia diagnosis does not automatically make them a candidate for this level of care. Like assisted living, the care levels can be varied. For seniors who require a lot redirection and structure, and who may be at risk for wandering or elopement, memory care can dramatically improve their quality of life.
Just like any major life decision, it is important to be educated about the options and to do your homework. I’ve made it my job to do this homework every day so that I can be the best resource for my clients if senior living is the right choice for them. If it’s not, they will come away with the knowledge that they didn’t miss out on an opportunity and they will also be armed with other senior resources that can help them with the next steps along their journey.