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Understanding Multiple Levels of Assisted Living Care

In senior living communities, there are popular buzzwords you should be aware of when doing your research before you consider settling on a community. Many communities talk about their services using the phrases “aging in place” or “continuum of care.” You may be wondering what these mean, and why these services are important when deciding on the best place for you or your loved one to spend their golden years.

Let’s start with the definitions of “aging in place” and “continuum of care.” These typically mean that the community provides independent living, as well as assisted living and higher levels of care. To put it simply, your loved one could continue to live there for many years because they have multiple levels of care.

I always recommend that we remind ourselves and our loved ones of the importance of autonomy and remaining as independent as possible, for as long as possible. Senior living communities with higher levels of care allow residents to receive additional care when they need it. Some even offer extensive inpatient rehabilitation services. During the time your loved one is receiving health care or rehabilitation services, he or she is welcome to enjoy the many life enrichment activities available at the community. This provides opportunity for maintaining a daily social life, which is so important in promoting one’s overall well-being.

Another positive attribute of continuum of care in senior living communities is that you can avoid long waiting lists or having to move to a completely different location with different foods, staff and friends. If you’re considering a facility that has multiple levels of care, ask the staff how they ensure that your loved one’s lifestyle is minimally impacted. Do they offer the same foods and life enrichment activities? Do they have a memory care community, and what does this look like? How do they assist with the transition?

I would suggest learning about how the process works when you or your loved one begin needing additional care. If you choose a place that does not support aging in place, make sure you talk to them about what happens when your loved one requires more care than the community can provide. In addition, if you choose a community that supports aging in place, make sure you address the cost to avoid any future surprises. Long-term care can be an investment, but it can also be completely attainable through careful planning. I highly suggest considering all your options and possible future needs, as you never know when life may bring a health care change you didn’t expect. Research all your options, be proactive and plan how you would like to live your golden years.


By Leah Veschio

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