he assisted living industry is a relatively new emerging growth industry in the United States. The industry primarily provides housing accommodations and care services for frail elderly persons.
Assisted living is a special combination of housing and personalized supportive unscheduled help of those who need help with the activities of daily living. Assisted living facilities offer a supportive residential setting in which assistance with activities of daily living and other services are provided to those who cannot or choose not to live alone, but do not need the 24-hour skilled medical care of a nursing home. Assistance is provided for each residents individual needs, in order to improve his or her quality of life.
Services usually include three meals daily, served in a common dining room; housekeeping services; transportation; assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, transferring and walking; 24-hour security; emergency call systems in each unit; health promotion and exercise programs; medication management; personal laundry; utilities; and social and recreational activities.
hy the need for assisted living? People are living longer than ever before - the average life expectancy is 76. Typically, women outlive men (80 vs. 73). More divorces are producing non-traditional family situations. Recent national statistics indicate the numbers of people 85 and older will increase from 4.2 million to at least 18.2 million in 2050. There will be a 50 percent increase in this age group before 2020 (6.4 million) and a 51 percent increase in this population who need assistance with an activity of daily living by 2020.
This past week we celebrated National Assisted Living Week with events in our community to highlight this lifestyle and to pay tribute to the elders who have chosen it.
Here are some tips to help in your search for a solution:
Dont wait. The first step in coping with an aging parent is to be prepared when infirmity strikes. This means exploring options like assisted living communities before they are needed, so that both children and parents know what to expect.
Seek support. Children who are put into the role of caregivers should seek out all the help they can get. Physicians trained in geriatric medicine can spot conditions and recommend treatments that other doctors might miss. Social workers can help assess a seniors needs and develop a plan to help. These people may be helpful in painful cases where the children must take needed steps in spite of the objections of mentally declining parents.
Visit communities. Most providers of senior housing are businesses, not charities, and their products should be assessed for cost and quality. Families should try to visit the communities to see if they meet the goal of taking care of their loved one.
(Bob Gill is community relations director for Elm Croft of Martinez, an assisted-living and Alzheimers care facility.)
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