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What are Assisted Living Communities?

Assisted living communities provide housing for adults who need help with daily activities. The residents typically are not able to safely live alone, but do not need the more specialized care of a nursing home. Access to care is usually available 24 hours a day and includes health care, meals, and assistance with everyday tasks. Assisted living is considered a long-term care option for senior citizens who might have memory problems, limited mobility, or other conditions that make living alone difficult.

The goal of assisted living communities is to support independent living for seniors. This is generally achieved by focusing on individual resident needs to create customized care. Assessments help staff members determine an appropriate care plan to fit specific situations. Residents can enjoy the freedom to choose how they live and what they do. Insuring seniors' dignity and respect is typically at the core of the facility's operation.

Residents of assisted living communities usually enjoy an apartment-style dwelling. These units are typically either a studio or one bedroom, and many offer kitchenettes for dining options beyond the community-provided meals. This independent living option gives seniors an environment that feels more like a home than a medical facility. The cost of assisted living is usually less expensive than a nursing home, but more than a regular apartment. This increase usually reflects the services and assistance provided.

Staff members employed by assisted living communities are commonly available all hours of the day and night, in case a resident has an emergency. This provides a level of security and safety for seniors that they do not usually have when living alone. For example, care is available for activities such as bathing, dressing, or using the bathroom. Also, residents can receive meals in a central dining room, and have access to housekeeping and laundry services.

Assisted living communities often go beyond offering basic services to residents by also planning recreation and wellness programs. These senior facilities may have a daily activity schedule. Residents usually have access to exercise facilities and other fitness-based programs to increase overall well-being. Shuttle buses may provide transportation for residents to appointments and other activities away from the community. This typically allows residents to maintain some of their independence without worrying about driving or securing transportation.

Generally speaking, regulations on the operations of assisted living communities protect the interests and safety of the residents. Such senior living facilities are usually required to offer care 24 hours a day, for instance. The regulations may also detail the services the facility must provide for residents.

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