Is Assisted Care the Answer?

As our family members age, we may find they need more help with daily activities that were once easy for them, such as eating, bathing, and attending to basic hygiene and home care. When this time arrives, it can be a challenging reality for your parent or family member. Maintaining independence is often very important to older adults, and it can be difficult for them to accept help. If your family member needs help with daily activities, or is no longer able to live alone, assisted living may be the best option for them.

When exploring care options for your aging family member, there are many things to consider. We created this guide to help you know when assisted care is necessary, and how to choose the right community for the person you care about.

Step 1: Look for signs that the one you care about needs assisted care: Are they showering? Are there signs of incontinence? Are they not eating, or forgetting to take medication? Are their bills going unpaid? Are they confused when routine is interrupted? Has the stove been left on, etc. These issues range from uncomfortable to dangerous for older adults. Assisted living is designed for seniors who need help with daily activities, and may benefit from other services like medication assistance, verbal cuing, and opportunities for socializing.

Step 2: Understand the difference between Senior Communities and Assisted Living Communities. Care communities can offer very different levels of care. An independent living community offers no services other than possibly transportation and/or coordinated activities and meals. Assisted living can provide the one you care about with basic care they need to remain safe, healthy, and happy. If their needs are more complex, there are also options such as memory care, long-term care, and specialized care.

Step 3: Think about what type of community would help your parent or family member thrive. There are different types of assisted living communities – they can be large, perhaps run by a corporation with more structures and rules. Smaller assisted living communities can offer more personalized care and flexibility for residents. There are also licensed residential homes that offer personalized care in a home-like setting, although they often offer fewer medical services. The important difference here is that a larger assisted living community focuses on the independent living model, whereas the smaller residential assisted living community focuses on the individual and the level of care they need.

Step 4: Know what to ask. As you begin your search, make a list of questions to ask about cost, licensing, level of care needed, and training requirements for staff. Generally speaking, any assisted living community should be able to provide you with detailed information on the training and qualifications of their staff. Different levels of care will require different types of licenses. Once you understand what your family member needs, look into what licensing is required for assisted living, residential care, hospice care, etc. Look for programs that have high standards for their caregivers, and ask whether training is provided on an ongoing basis.

Step 5: Consider your family member’s social needs. Getting older can be an isolating experience, one that can severely impact a senior’s mental and physical health. Look for options that will meet the social needs of the one you care about. Do they enjoy being independent? Look for options that give them the freedom to choose their food and daily activities. Do they need more social interaction? Look for options that provide opportunities to interact with other residents, visitors, and the community.

I hope this guide will give you confidence as you start the process of finding the best form of care for the one you care about. If you have questions, please give us a call at (505) 865-8813.


Suzette Lindemuth

Owner & Director, Senior Living Systems