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What Are the Pros and Cons of Assisted Living?

There are currently almost 56 million Americans age 65 and over living in the United States; this means that roughly 17% of Americans, or one in six Americans, are over the age of 65. While this may seem like a high number, the senior population in the U.S. is continuing to rise. It is expected that, by the year 2040, there will be more than 80 million senior citizens in the U.S., which is double the number of American seniors reported in the year 2000.

Because of the growing number of older adults in the U.S., seniors and their families are taking special care to identify the support available to meet their needs. It is expected that nearly 70% of people age 65 and older will require some type of long-term care during their lifetime. To ensure that seniors have access to the care they need, can maintain the independence they want and are able to afford the lifestyle they envisioned for their retirement, it is important to understand the options available, as well as the pros and cons of assisted living communities.

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living communities are living environments for older adults who value their independence and want to remain in a homelike setting but who do require non-medical assistance with one or more of the activities of daily living (ADLs). Residents in assisted living communities pay for private living spaces and share common areas and amenities. Depending on the assisted living community, residents may have access to on-site amenities such as indoor pools, walking trails and libraries. At River Crossing Assisted Living Community, residents enjoy restaurant-style dining, on-site church services and an activity room and game area. Most assisted living communities charge basic monthly rent and may charge additional fees, depending on the levels of assisted living care required.

So, when an older adult moves into an assisted living community, what can they expect? What are the benefits of assisted living for seniors?

  • Private living quarters that can accommodate singles, married couples and, in many cases, pets.
  • Home repairs, maintenance and landscaping services.
  • Emergency alert systems and security systems to ensure the safety of residents at all times.
  • Delicious, nutritious daily meals and snacks are included at most assisted living communities. Meal plans usually include up to three meals a day, as well as beverages and snacks.
  • Scheduled transportation for running errands and attending community events.
  • Laundry and housekeeping services.
  • Beauty shop and barber services.
  • On-site classes to meet all interests. Depending on the assisted living community, classes can range from yoga to art classes, as well as book clubs and technology classes.
  • Activities offered at assisted living communities range from educational and cultural to concerts and guest speakers; there is something for seniors of all activity levels and interests. At River Crossing, residents enjoy social activities and wellness and fitness programs.
  • Support with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, toileting and grooming.

Understanding the Cons of Assisted Living

So, is assisted living the right choice for everyone? Are there disadvantages of assisted living? While there are many benefits of assisted living, it is not a perfect choice for everyone. Here are six of the most talked about cons of assisted living and how they may impact seniors and their families:

Assisted living is expensive.

Assisted living costs are one of the most discussed topics among seniors and their families. Depending on where the assisted living community is located, monthly payments can range from $3,500 to $10,500 per month. These expenses include food, medication, transportation costs and rent, which includes utilities and residential maintenance costs. While assisted living costs may seem steep, it is important to remember that the average cost of in-home care in the U.S. is $4,957 a month. And, for home health care, the cost is even higher, with an average of $5,148 a month. So, how do seniors who want to live in assisted living cover the costs? There are several options:

  • Medicaid and Medicaid Waivers. While most assisted living communities accept financial assistance, some do only accept private pay. Some states offer Medicaid payments for eligible, low-income seniors, and most states offer some type of Medicaid program to help eligible seniors pay for assisted living.
  • Insurance. Long-term care insurance is a supplementary plan that is designed to cover the cost of assisted living and other long-term care programs.
  • Retirement Income. Retirement plans are a great way to save for the golden years of life, no matter if it is an employee-sponsored plan or a self-funded plan.

Assisted living does not offer skilled nursing care.

Seniors who need ongoing medical care following an injury or illness require a higher level of care, often called skilled nursing care. Seniors recovering following surgery, a stroke, an accident or a serious illness are usually the best fit for skilled nursing. While that level of medical care is not offered in assisted living communities, some seniors do move from assisted living to skilled nursing care, and back, as their health dictates.

Seniors lose independence in assisted living.

The loss of independence is one of the most discussed, and lamented, aspect of aging. For some seniors, simply moving out of their family home represents a loss of independence. This feeling of loss can make moving into assisted living a complicated and emotional decision. For those who are deterred by a fear of losing independence, remaining in the family home alone can create its own set of risks and challenges. While seniors who live in assisted living have access to activities and social opportunities, seniors who live at home alone run the risk of becoming increasingly isolated. Isolation in seniors can increase the risk of:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • A weakened immune system
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Cognitive decline
  • Alzheimer’s disease and dementia

It is complicated to find the right assisted living community.

There are more than 20,000 assisted living communities in the U.S. With that many choices, how can any family be confident in making the right decision? It can take time to make the right choice in senior housing, and assisted living may not be the right choice for everyone. However, there are tools to help families find the right fit for their needs.

Seniors are not able to set their own daily schedule in assisted living.

Living on their own, seniors can decide each day what they want to do and when. There is often a fear that moving into an assisted living community would mean giving up that daily freedom. While there are some time frames associated with life in assisted living, seniors have a variety of choices. From what classes to take to where to travel around town, some seniors in assisted living have more safe and exciting options than seniors living alone.

Diet and meal plans are not personalized in assisted living.

Seniors living and cooking at home, or those with personalized meal delivery plans, are able to create their own personal menus. For seniors in some assisted living communities, there are established menus and mealtimes to constrict them. In many assisted living communities, like River Crossing, there are on-site chefs who are happy to accommodate diet considerations, allergies and meal plans that accommodate health concerns.

About River Crossing Assisted Living Community

River Crossing is an assisted living community proudly providing quality care to seniors in Indiana’s Clark County. We are committed to providing personalized assisted living services focused on each resident’s emotional, intellectual and physical well-being.

Interested in learning more about River Crossing? Contact us today!