The Elms Blog

Top Assisted Living Myths

Jun 8, 2021

If you are researching senior living options for yourself or a loved one, you might hear a lot of terms like “retirement community” and “assisted living” bandied about. You may even wonder what the difference is between a “nursing home” and “assisted living”. Not to worry, we are here to help you learn more about assisted living and debunk a few senior living myths…

Myth: “Assisted living” is just another way of saying “nursing home”

This is a very common misunderstanding about senior living. The two differ significantly.

Assisted living communities provide living quarters and care to seniors who may need some help with daily tasks but do not require the skilled care provided at a nursing home. They generally feature:

  • Apartment homes residents can decorate and lock, just as they would a private apartment.
  • A full-time dedicated staff to help with daily activities, including medication management and hygiene if needed.
  • Three well-prepared meals a day, seven days a week.
  • Housekeeping, laundry services and reliable transportation.

Some assisted living communities offer additional medical and memory care services. This varies by state and community. Some allow couples to live in the same community despite needing different amounts of care, which can be very comforting.

Nursing homes are designed for people who need higher levels of care and require help with nearly all their daily living tasks. They typically feature:

  • Private or shared rooms.
  • Rehabilitative care, including surgical and medical recovery.
  • Assistance with many activities of daily living, such as feeding and getting in and out of bed.

Myth: My loved one won’t like living in assisted living

Seventy-three percent of families report that a senior loved one’s quality of life improved after moving to assisted living, according to a recent survey.

Many seniors fear losing their independence and privacy. Most communities operate like apartment complexes, providing residents with a choice of spacious living quarters and separate entrances. Residents are free to furnish their apartments as they like, with their own furniture and personal items. Apartment doors and locks and are controlled by residents.

Myth: Family should be the ones to care for their elder members

While care-giving can bring much joy and strengthen bonds, it can also affect the caregiver’s ability to work, maintain a healthy social life and preserve physical and mental health.

A study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests caregivers often neglect their own health and often suffer from the emotional and physical demands of care-giving. More than one third of caregivers report insufficient sleep.

Just as you expect a high quality of life for your parent or loved one, you should expect the same for yourself. Choosing assisted living will result in a happier, healthier life for both of you.

Myth: The cost of assisted living is high

Assisted living is often the same or less than receiving the same care and services at home. The median monthly cost for assisted living in the United States is $4,051, according to Genworth’s 2019 Cost of Care Survey. While that may seem high, it includes everything many seniors need, including meals, transportation, activities, help with day-to-day tasks, medication management, and more.

Myth: The food is bland and the activities are boring

Senior living communities are responding to people’s preferences for fine dining and high-tech fun. “Now that the Baby Boomer generation is entering senior living, we’re starting to see assisted living communities change to reflect a more demanding consumer,” says Sue Johansen, vice president of strategic customers at A Place for Mom. “We only think about bingo and the senior communities. But more and more, there are virtual reality theaters, spas, and lots of different activities to stay social.”

As for meals, dining options look more like restaurants and less like buffet lines. You will find much of the same fine dining options seniors are used to at home at most senior living communities.

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