Despite the fact that more and more families are turning to assisted living communities to help their loved ones maintain a high quality of life, there are a number of concerning misconceptions that people have when it comes to assisted living communities. Unfortunately, some of these misconceptions end up keeping some people away from the kinds of services that can help them get the most out of their golden years. It is with that in mind that we want to clear up some of the most common and harmful misconceptions that people have about assisted living communities.
You Will Lose Your Independence
Assisted living communities will go to great lengths to help foster the independence of their residents. As long as it is safe, residents in assisted living communities can be every bit as independent as they were before. To begin with, many assisted living residents stay in apartments that are just that: apartments. This means that residents will still have full control over just about every aspect of their new apartment, just like they did with their previous home. One important difference is that your loved one will have immediate access to a number of services whenever he or she needs them, including things like assistance from a care manager, housekeeping, and maintenance work.
Once again, the only real caveat is that assisted living communities will not allow their residents to do anything with their apartment that is considered to be unsafe—for instance, some residents may not be allowed to keep things like toaster ovens or microwaves in their apartment out of a concern that the appliance could potentially start a fire. However, even when something like a toaster or microwave is prohibited, your loved one will still likely be able to use a community toaster or microwave in the common space.
Outside of the apartment, residents are free to take part in any of the various activities happening around the community. If a resident doesn’t feel up to doing something, or if he or she simply is not interested, they do not have to participate in anything in which they do not want to participate. Activities in assisted living communities are treated as opportunities for residents to socialize and engage their interests in real activities that are meant to stimulate the body and mind alike. That being said, communities try to offer a diverse range of activities that allow residents to make decisions about what they do and do not want to do.
Assisted Living Communities Are Prohibitively Expensive
While the cost of staying in an assisted living community can be expensive—it can be anywhere between $2,000 to $5,000 a month, on average—that does not necessarily mean that your family cannot afford it. To begin with, Medicare and Medicaid can both be used to cover a significant portion of the costs that are associated with staying in an assisted living community. If your loved one is a veteran, then his or her veterans’ benefits can also be used to cover some of the costs of long-term care. If you have long-term care insurance for your loved one, you will obviously be able to pay for part or all of your loved one’s care with the compensation your loved one gets under his or her policy.
While you will certainly be able to use any of these resources to offset the cost of assisted living, it is true that some of the costs will need to be paid for with private funds. Even so, you may be able to reduce the cost of your loved one’s care by simply asking whether the community offers special pricing or other incentives that can help make your loved one’s accommodations a little more affordable. In any event, you may want to work with a financial advisor who can help you define the financial parameters your family can work within to find a community that will be both a good fit for your loved one and financially sustainable.
Only People Who Are Unwell Live in Assisted Living
Assisted living communities are meant to care for people who need relatively minimal medical care. In fact, many assisted living communities do not have the resources to provide the kind of around-the-clock medical care that people with serious medical conditions need—that is where skilled nursing becomes necessary. So, while it may be the case that some residents have some medical issues, it is important to remember that the assistance that is provided by assisted living communities helps to keep all of their resident active, well, and as independent as they are able.
That being said, assisted living communities are pretty active places where residents can interact with one another and engage in meaningful activities. This last point should be apparent enough when you begin to visit communities in your area. However, every community is different and will offer varying levels of care for their residents. Depending on where you live, there should be enough options for you to select a community that is as active and vibrant as your loved one wants.