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Assisted Living: A Welcome Alternative for Long-Term Care

| February 19, 2018
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There are far more options available for individuals in need of long-term care today than the nursing home of yesteryear. Assisted living facilities (ALFs), which are designed to provide privacy and autonomy, along with a sense of community, have grown in response to our rapidly increasing senior population. Both residents and staff of these facilities emphasize the “living” in assisted living. 

Often, ALFs may include 24-hour emergency response services, daily meals, some personal care, transportation services, housekeeping, and laundry services. ALFs provide residents with a home-like atmosphere that maintains their active lifestyle. They offer an increasing variety of choices in accommodations, activities, and personalized services according to the diverse needs of their residents. 

Although ALFs initially began as private organization-based homes, today, prospective residents may have the choice of buying or renting apartments or townhouses. Some ALFs offer spacious layouts that may include two bedrooms, two bathrooms, living room, dining room, den, and deck, as well as a fitness center on the premises. 

Apart from the variety of choices in residential accommodations, assisted living communities focus on maintaining independent lifestyles for residents with a diverse schedule of activities and services, including educational programs and lectures, along with opportunities for socializing with entertainment such as movie nights, day trips, and concerts. 

Many facilities provide some assistance with daily activities, as needed, in order to promote and maintain independence. Depending on the terms of the ALF contract, residents may choose the level of care they need, with the option of adding more services over time. More ALFs are embracing the concept of aging in place, or providing individuals with additional medical services over time. For example, a resident may eventually need help with medication monitoring or paying bills; however, if a senior needs more skilled care attention, he or she may have the option of moving to a nursing home wing on the community campus, if available. 

An important part of preparing for the future is planning for potential long term care expenses, including those associated with an ALF. One option to help meet these expenses is long-term care insurance, which not only increases your options for care, but helps preserve your assets. 

Policies vary, but in general, they provide a daily, set amount of coverage that can be used in a number of ways. Long-term care insurance may help cover the expenses of nursing homes, ALFs, adult day health services, and/or at-home care. The cost of coverage is typically based on age, current health, and specific policy features, such as scope of coverage, levels of care, and duration of benefits. 

The demand for more personalized and diverse services in an ALF continues to grow as the Baby Boomer generation ages. Facilities that offer accommodations and services to help maintain active and independent lifestyles are a positive indicator of the innovative future of senior health care. So remember, the time to plan for your future is now.

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