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What is Assisted Living?

In assisted living, you receive personalized help with activities of daily living (ADLs) like bathing or showering, getting dressed, getting in and out of a bed or chair, walking, using the bathroom, and eating, while still living independently. In some assisted living communities, additional services like transportation, house chores, property maintenance, and medication monitoring may also be available.


Table of Contents


The Value of Assisted Living

Assisted living communities offer a great value because they typically include many services, amenities, and benefits wrapped up in one cost-effective package. You get to remove everyday burdens so you can spend your time playing cards with friends, take that art class you’ve always been interested in, or enjoy spending more time with your family.

Assisted Living Promotes Independence

One big misunderstanding about assisted living is that older adults who choose this option will lose their independence. In reality, residents who choose assisted living are free to create their own schedules and have time to participate in enriching activities. Assisted living helps out only where and when you need it.

How Does Assisted Living Work?

Assisted living works the way you want it to. In general, assisted living residents enjoy access to support services and medical care when needed in a home-like atmosphere that promotes as much independence as possible. There are all kinds of amenities and services in assisted living that vary from community to community. In addition to assistance with mobility and personal care, assisted living services may also include things like helping with housekeeping, medication management, apartment maintenance and utilities, wellness checks, and transportation to and from appointments or errands.

Beyond individualized support services, there are plenty of other amenities to foster independence and wellbeing like social activities with other residents, fitness classes, top-notch dining, and easy access to medical resources to put residents and their loved ones’ minds at ease.

What are typical Assisted Living Accommodations? Is there privacy?

There are all kinds of assisted living communities offering different types of living arrangements. The most common assisted living accommodations are private apartments and suites. As for privacy, there are plenty of ways to enjoy the company of other residents, but private rooms are standard.

What is a Typical Day Like in an Assisted Living Community?

Each day at an assisted living community is different, but a typical day for an assisted living resident might start with having a team member assist them with getting ready for the day. They may then head down to breakfast in the dining room, and then join a community outing to shop downtown. Later, they might meet up with their card club to play a few hands or enjoy dinner with friends in the dining room. In the evening, a team member will assist them in settling in for the night. It’s all about what works best for you.

How to Know when Assisted Living is Needed

If you find that you or a loved one is having more accidents or falls at home, personal care and grooming is becoming more challenging, if you are experiencing difficulty managing your medications on your own, or if housekeeping chores have become too much, then assisted living might be right for you.

Assisted living is best for someone who needs some services to help enhance their independence. If more serious medical care or 24-hour supervision is needed, then assisted living might not the right option for you or your loved one and you may need a full-service nursing home.

Seniors who can perform ADLs without any assistance may be better suited for independent living communities. Many of the great benefits of assisted living are still available in independent living communities including social activities, housekeeping, local transportation and dining. Memory Care is another assisted living option best suited for seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

What are the Benefits of Assisted Living?

Assisted living residents get to enjoy amenities and services like:

  • Private rooms with living areas, kitchens or kitchenettes and en-suite bathrooms
  • Restaurant-style dining
  • Local transportation
  • Enriching activities
  • Group outings
  • On-site wellness programs and classes
  • Ability to relax and pursue all your favorite passions and hobbies
  • Emergency call systems for help in a crisis
  • Peace of mind for you and your family knowing you’re in a safe and caring environment
  • Help with activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Cost savings – assisted living is not as expensive as memory care or nursing homes

And of course, the biggest benefit of assisted living is personalized care—it meets you where you are. You get to dictate your schedule and participate in all the fun activities your community has to offer while assisted living staff give you extra support in the areas where you need it.

What Does Assisted Living Cost?

Assisted living is a convenient package option for seniors with value far beyond the dollar amount.

According to Genworth Financial, the average cost of assisted living in 2023 was $5,350 per month. Compared to the average monthly household expenses plus the addition of home aide and home maintenance / care services, and other incidentals such as groceries and transportation—the costs can really add up.

What’s included in the price of assisted living?

Assisted living costs include chef-prepared meals each day, maintenance-free living, on-site enrichment and wellness activities, transportation, and much more. Assisted living also includes things for which a monetary value can’t be assigned – building relationships with fellow residents, maintaining the power of choice over schedules and activities, and enjoying the peace of mind in knowing that home maintenance is cared for and medical help is readily available if needed.

Assisted Living vs. Other Senior Care Options

What’s the difference between assisted living and a nursing home?

Often misunderstood, assisted living communities and nursing homes are very different.

The goal of assisted living is to give some support to residents while they still live independently. Residents in assisted living often enjoy their own apartments that have a homey design and feel.

Nursing homes, on the other hand, provide 24/7 care for residents that typically live with more complex health conditions. The settings are typically in a more clinical environment with shared and private rooms that do not include living areas or kitchenettes.

Nursing homes typically cost significantly more than assisted living communities due to the higher level of care they provide. Genworth Financial reports that in 2023, the average assisted living community cost $64,000/year while a private room in a nursing home cost $116,800.

Assisted living vs. Home Care – Which is Better?

Assisted living is best if you want to be surrounded by a community of other residents, have services catered to your needs, and have a team of staff around you for support. Home care is the right choice if you prefer to stay in the comfort of your home, but this can come with drawbacks. Relying on home care limits social engagement and can contribute to feelings of isolation or boredom. Choosing home care instead of assisted living also means there may be no one here in the event of a medical emergency. With assisted living, accommodations are built in for mobility concerns, whereas it can be difficult and costly to retrofit a house.

With home care, you receive one-on-one care and companionship at set intervals. With assisted living, personalized care is spread across a team of staff members instead of a single individual, ensuring that you’ll always have the care you need when you need it.

What to Look for in an Assisted Living Community

When it comes to choosing the right assisted living community it’s important to look at communities that can provide the right service for your needs. While the bells and whistles of chandeliers and large fireplaces are definitely things you can enjoy, they won’t take care of you. Instead, focus on skilled staff, dining services, activity calendars, and cleanliness.

How to Smoothly Transition a Loved One into Assisted Living

How to talk to a loved one about moving to assisted living

Whether your loved one approaches you or you approach them, talking about a move to assisted living can bring up lots of emotions. The common misconception is that residents lose their independence, so finding ways to emphasize independence and enrichment are key.

When talking to a loved one about moving to assisted living, discuss every detail, even the things that may seem trivial. Your parent or loved one may be feeling anxious about the big change that comes from moving to an assisted living community. It’s best to broach the subject with compassion and an open mind. Avoid using phrases like “you have to move” and “you need to sell your home.” Let your loved one in on the decision making process from choosing a community to what type of activities they want to join.

Visit the Assisted Living Community

You and your loved one can prepare for this new chapter by touring assisted living communities. Meet the staff, chat with other residents, and encourage your loved one to ask as many questions as they want.

Create a Transition Timeline

Moving can be a lot for anyone to manage. There’s precious items to be boxed up, closets to be cleaned out, and moving companies to be hired. Creating a timeline can help make the process a little less stressful. Start with an eight-week timeline focused on packing supplies, moving company quotes, and talking with staff at your assisted living destination. From there break down each week and set goals on what you want to accomplish for your senior family member.

Decorate to your Heart’s Content

Assisted living is all about empowering residents to be independent while making them feel comfortable. This new space is a new home, enjoy the furnishing and decorating process. Set up family photos, hang favorite pieces of artwork, and let your loved one surround themselves with the same items they have at home. This can be especially important for seniors with dementia. Filling a loved one’s space with familiar objects can help ease stress and reduce anxiety.

Spend Time with your Senior Family Member

Plan to spend move-in day with your loved one. Help them set up their new home, walk the property together, check out some of the activities together, and get a bite to eat together in the dining room.

Find an Assisted Living Community Near You

Your assisted living community is also your new home, which means the environment should be suited to you. Whether that’s palm trees and an ocean breeze, a view of the mountains, or the familiar surroundings of your local community, Five Star Senior Living’s got you covered.

Research communities online, book a community tour, or try before you buy with a short term or respite stay. Still have questions? Contact us today and a member of our knowledgeable and friendly staff will be happy to help you find the perfect assisted living community for you.

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Father’s Day with Dad in Assisted Living

Are you celebrating Father’s Day with your dad at his assisted living community this year? No matter your father’s mobility level, there are Father’s Day activities for senior living residents that are sure to help him feel loved and celebrated. From day trips like museum tours and baseball games to planning a special Father’s Day celebration at the assisted living community, we’ve put together some ideas to help you make this Father’s Day one he’ll remember for years to come.

The Best Father’s Day Activities for Dads in Assisted Living

  • Decorate his room – if staying in at the assisted living community, can make it feel special having family decorate his space
  • Bring him his favorite food or a restaurant meal – if he can’t leave the property, bring him something he loves from his favorite place that he doesn’t get to go to
  • Make a scrapbook together – rather than bringing one to present to him, bring supplies and sit together as a family and look through pictures, reminisce and assemble the book together
  • Play family-friendly games – board games with the grandkids, lawn games if the weather is nice and celebrating outside, etc.
  • See what the team at the assisted living community might already have planned. Many assisted living communities, like Five Star Senior Living, offer special activities to celebrate the dads and grandfathers in residence on this special day. From movies to barbecues, games and karaoke contests, you may discover activities that every age can enjoy.

Put on a family talent show or singalong with the grandkids

A Father’s Day celebration doesn’t have to be elaborate or involve a road trip. Let the grandkids put on a skit or sing songs. The play can be as involved as they want, with costumes and set design, or can be as simple as the kids singing some of your dad’s favorite songs with help from your iTunes downloads.

Create personal Father’s Day tributes

You might also consider creating a slideshow video of favorite family moments – including past Father’s Day celebrations. With a laptop, a little bit of tech savvy, and an hour or two of free time, you can easily produce a video of favorite family photos. Set the slideshow to one of Dad’s favorite songs, whether he prefers golden oldies or classic rock, and let the images kick off an afternoon of reminiscing and storytelling.

If your dad is mobile and comfortable leaving the property, try these Father’s Day day trips for senior living residents:

1. Take Your Dad out to a ball game

Minor league ball games offer major fun for the whole family – at a fraction of the price of a major league baseball game. This allows you to share the special experience of a ball game with Dad without so much overwhelm and waiting in lines. To avoid the crowds, show up just after the first inning begins and leave before the bottom of the ninth.

2. Visit a museum

Is your Dad interested in military history? Airplanes? Natural science? Whatever his interests, he’s sure to love discussing them with you and his grandchildren. Take the whole family to a museum and listen as your Dad shares his own stories of years passed.

3. Go to the movies together

Don’t overlook a family movie outing. Whether a recent blockbuster or a classic movie from when your dad was younger, sharing the experience of watching a movie with family can provide an engaging and comfortable activity to share. If Dad would prefer to stay at the community for Father’s Day, find out what movies the assisted living community has coming up. You may not have to leave to view a family favorite classic. Just remember to ask if you should bring your own snacks or if the community is providing popcorn.

Additional tips for planning a safe and memorable Father’s Day in an assisted living community

Plan ahead for your father’s special needs

While your father might enjoy a short day trip, he may also get tired spending too much time outside, especially if your travels put you in the center of large crowds. Expect to spend no more than two or three hours away from home. You can always continue the celebration back at his assisted living community by enjoying a meal together or playing games in one of the common areas.

A Father’s Day celebration doesn’t have to be elaborate or involve a road trip. Let the grandkids put on a skit or sing songs. The play can be as involved as they want, with costumes and set design, or can be as simple as the kids singing some of your dad’s favorite songs with help from your iTunes downloads.

You might also consider creating a slideshow video of favorite family moments – including past Father’s Day celebrations. With a laptop, a little bit of tech savvy, and an hour or two of free time, you can easily produce a video of favorite family photos. Set the slideshow to one of Dad’s favorite songs, whether he prefers golden oldies or classic rock, and let the images kick off an afternoon of reminiscing and storytelling.

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How to Know When to Move to Assisted Living

You’ve earned your retirement, and you deserve to kick back, relax, and enjoy your golden years without the challenges of working. But getting older can pose challenges of its own. If home upkeep, hygiene, and other activities of daily living have become difficult for you or a loved one, it may be time to consider moving to assisted living, also known as personal care in Pennsylvania and Georgia.

When older adults (or their caregivers) hear the words “assisted living,” the image that comes to mind is often an institutional facility that marks the end of the road—a cold place where seniors are meant to live out the final years of their life. But the truth is that transitioning to assisted living can be the start of a wonderful new chapter of life where the to-do list is tossed out and the focus is on what brings joy.

What is Assisted Living?

Falling between independent living and full-time nursing care, assisted living offers a stress-free lifestyle where extra help with activities of daily living (ADLs) is always near so residents can maintain much of their independence.

Signs It’s Time to Move to Assisted Living

No two situations are exactly alike, and there are a lot of factors to weigh when considering moving to assisted living, whether for yourself or a loved one. Here are five signs that it might be time to start thinking about making the move to assisted living.

You Want to Expand Your Social Circle

As you or your loved one gets older and enjoys retirement, social circles can sometimes feel like they’re shrinking. Your friends may have moved away to be closer to their children or relationships you had during your working life have drifted apart.

Moving to an assisted living community is a great way to enjoy a stress-free lifestyle while meeting new people and making new bonds. The life enrichment and wellness activities offered at assisted living communities give you the opportunity to meet people with similar interests and experiences. Five Star takes a holistic approach to active community living with LifeStyle360—whether it’s in art class, on a cultural excursion, or during happy hour you’re bound to make new friends.

Accidents and Falls are More Frequent

As the leading cause of injury among older adults, falls are often caused by an older home that isn’t designed with senior safety in mind. Car accidents also pose a major risk for serious injury for older adults. Especially if you or a loved one lives alone, making driving a necessity.

It can help to reflect on the past year. A question to ask yourself if you’re thinking of moving to assisted living is: have you made two or more trips to the hospital due to a fall or an accident? If you notice any pattern of injuries, you may benefit from moving to an assisted living community where bedrooms and communal areas are made with safety in mind plus trained staff to assist you.

Home Maintenance Struggles

Aging often causes physical strength to decline. This can make it more difficult for you to keep up with housework and yard maintenance. Mowing the lawn, shoveling snow, and cleaning out the refrigerator can be difficult and even unsafe.

If taking care of your home has become increasingly difficult it might be time to look at an assisted living community. The stressors of home upkeep, housekeeping, and laundry are all handled by welcoming and trained staff letting you focus on your hobbies and pursue stress-free living.

Difficulty Leaving Home

Whether it’s mobility impairment or a lack of transportation, getting out of the house can become difficult as you or a loved one gets older.

If you are having difficulty leaving your home you may benefit from moving to an assisted living community. Most communities offer expert staff who work with your needs. Plus all kinds of life enriching activities, fun programs, and transportation services are included to keep you engaged and comfortable.

Getting the Right Nutrition

One of the best things about assisted living communities is the restaurant-style dining rooms with well-balanced chef-inspired meals, snacks, and catered meal plans. You or a loved one might benefit from an assisted living community if you find yourself skipping meals or relying on unhealthy convenience foods.

Enjoy The Freedom of Stress-Free Assisted Living

Still not sure if it’s time to think about assisted living? Take your time and reach out to a family member, friend, or an assisted living community directly to start the conversation.

Moving to an assisted living community is a major life decision for you or a loved one to make. There’s a misconception that assisted living means giving up your independence or that someone is watching over you 24/7—this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

At Five Star, assisted living is designed to enhance independence. With no more chores or errands to worry about, you have the freedom to do what makes you happy and rest easy knowing your every need is met at a cost you can afford. Most importantly, though, you are welcomed into a new home sweet home where you’re treated like family from the moment you walk in. Find out if there’s a Five Star community near you or contact us to learn more.

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How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

Growing old can be a beautiful thing, full of new experiences and joys like finally taking that trip you always planned on or helping raise grandchildren. Yet, there comes a time for many seniors when worsening health conditions make basic daily activities—like bathing or managing medication—require assistance. These may be signs it’s time to consider moving into an assisted living community.

Moving into an assisted living community can be a difficult—and emotional—decision. It doesn’t help that searching for assisted living costs online brings up all sorts of confusing fees, contracts and services that vary widely. You might be wondering:

  • How much does assisted living actually cost? And is it worth it?
  • How does assisted living cost compare to the cost of in-home care?
  • How can I pay for assistance living?

Here’s the good news: there’s no need to keep searching. We’ve got you covered with simple and straightforward answers to the most asked questions about the cost of assisted living. Here’s what you need to know about assisted living costs so you can make the best choice.

What is an assisted living community?

Assisted living communities are far more than just places that provide senior care. They should also be a home where everyday burdens—like transportation and chores—are taken care of so your loved one can stay active and engaged doing the things they love most. Assisted living can be best thought of as a busy, involved community atmosphere that lies on the continuum between independent living and full-time, nursing-provided care. It’s best for seniors who need a little extra help with some activities of daily living (ADLs) like dressing and medication reminders so they can live their most independent life.

What is the average cost assisted living?

Assisted living costs can vary greatly depending upon what area of the country you live in. The size of the apartment you choose, and the types and number of services also impact the monthly cost of assisted living. According to Genworth Financial, the average cost of assisted living in 2020 was $4,300 per month. Compare that to the cost of hiring a home health aide and housekeeper in 2020: an average of $9,000 a year! While the monthly cost of assisted living may cause an initial senior living sticker shock, the services and amenities included in the monthly cost make a move to an assisted living community a smart financial decision.

What is included in the average monthly cost for assisted living?

The true value of assisted living goes far beyond a new place to call home. Assisted living communities offer a wide variety of amenities and services included in the monthly cost to meet your loved one’s needs like:

  • Housekeeping, maintenance and laundry services.
  • Nutritious, chef-prepared meals served restaurant-style in the dining room.
  • Utilities and basic cable television.
  • A full calendar of life enrichment programs to participate in each day.
  • Transportation services for errands, appointments and other community outings.
  • Wellness programs and senior-friendly fitness activities.
  • Emergency call systems in apartments and/or an emergency call pendant option.

How can I pay for assisted living?

Most seniors pay with private funds; however, the monthly cost of assisted living can become much more manageable through senior living financing options like:

  • A Bridge Loan or Senior Line-of-Credit: These short-term, “interest-only” loans help fund assisted living costs until the necessary money comes in.
  • Deferred Annuity with Long-term Care Rider: Rather than making monthly insurance payments, the investor places a lump sum of money into a deferred annuity. They can then withdraw the money, tax-free and without any IRS penalties, to pay for assisted living.
  • Life Settlement Accounts: With a life settlement agreement, a senior sells their life insurance to a third party and receives a lump sum payment.
  • Veteran’s Benefits: US veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans can receive monthly benefits to pay for assisted living through the Aid and Attendance Benefit.

The Five Star Difference: Stress-Free Assisted Living

We know how hard the decision to move into an assisted living community can be, especially when it comes down to figuring out the cost and how to pay for it. That’s why Five Star’s senior living experts are happy to help answer your questions about assisted living costs and work with your budget so you can make the most informed decision. In a Five Star assisted living community, our residents receive the services they need in an engaging, active lifestyle they deserve at a cost they can afford. Most importantly, though, they are welcomed into a new home sweet home where life is stress-free, and friends become family. Download our FREE Guide to the Cost of Senior Living eBook and find out if there’s a Five Star Senior Living community near you to learn more.

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Home Care or Assisted Living: A Comparison

Exploring different senior living options for you or an aging loved one can feel overwhelming. You want to make the right choice for you or your loved one’s health and happiness, while also respecting your family’s desires regarding staying at home or transitioning to a senior living community. Both senior living arrangements have benefits and drawbacks worth considering. In this article, we’ll help clarify your options when choosing between assisted living and non-medical home care for seniors so that you can make the best, most informed choice for you and your family.

What is Non-Medical Home Care?

When you hire non-medical home care, a home care aide will come to you or your loved one’s home and stay—either round-the-clock or on a pre-determined schedule. This person, sometimes called a senior care companion or home aide, can help perform daily tasks provide companionship.

Non-Medical Care versus Skilled Home Health Care

It’s important to note the difference between non-medical care and home health care. Nearly anyone—even without a medical license—can perform non-medical care. In fact, the burden often falls on a family member, who isn’t paid for these services.

On the other hand, home health professionals are skilled medical professionals who can often administer medications, offer occupational therapy services, change wound dressings, and assess overall health. If you or your loved one is experiencing health concerns or if you’re worried about moving safely around the house, home health care is worth considering. Unfortunately, home care for seniors, both medical and non-medical, can be expensive and the costs can quickly add up to thousands of dollars a month, particularly if round-the-clock care is needed.

What Is Assisted Living?

In an assisted living community, staff is available 24/7 to provide non-medical care services. You or your senior loved one receives care and companionship she or he whenever it’s necessary.

In addition, an assisted living community often provides social activities from group yoga classes to movie night to keep residents engaged with life. Many also offer wellness programs, healthy meal options and transportation. If you opt for in-home non-medical care, you’ll have to pay separately for these types of services.

Non-Medical Home Care or Assisted Living?

Caregivers and seniors often believe non-medical home care is a suitable, more cost-effective option to assisted living. They might even believe non-medical home care gives a senior more freedom. For an older adult who wishes to age in place, in-home care may be the right option. Here are some of the key differences between the two to consider:

Assisted Living vs. Home Care Comparison Table

 

Assisted Living

Home Care

What types of care are provided? In assisted living, residents may need some help with transportation, medication management, housekeeping and other specific activities of daily living such as dressing and personal care, but still live independently. Care may include:

  • Bathing and personal hygiene
  • Medication reminders (although in most states they cannot administer medication)
  • Getting dressed
  • Help eating
What other services are offered? Residents receive three nutritious meals each day and access to life enrichment programs and social activities like yoga classes and movie nights to keep residents engaged with life. Services may include:

  • Light housekeeping
  • Cooking
  • Transportation
  • Companionship
What is the living situation like? Assisted living communities are designed to feel home-like and residents typically live in their own apartments or suites with private baths and kitchenettes. Home care allows for aging in the comfort of your own home, but modifications to the home might be necessary to maintain independence.
How much does it cost? The median cost of assisted living in the United States in 2021 was $4,300 per month, according to Genworth’s most recent Cost of Care Survey. In 2021, the average cost of a home health aide $5,148 per month.

Another major benefit of assisted living is that your care is spread out across an entire team instead of one individual. If your home health aide calls in sick or needs to care for someone else, few alternative options are available. Assisted living means your loved one will always have the care they need, when they need it.

Note: Your money may go further in an assisted living community since large expenses like rent and dining are included, along with a wide variety of activities and close companionship with other older adults you can’t get with a home aide. Download our FREE Guide to the Cost of Senior Living eBook to learn more about how assisted living may be more cost effective than you think.

When analyzing all factors, including costs, it’s important to remember the following:

  • A senior who uses non-medical home care must pay the home aide, along with all the usual expenses such as meals, mortgage, taxes, and utilities
  • Assisted living includes non-medical care, as well as a place to live, transportation, some meals, home maintenance (including lawn care), and utilities
  • Assisted living provides services when you or your loved one needs it, round-the-clock

Move or Stay?

The decision to move to assisted living or to age-in-place with help from a home aide is a difficult one. Find a Five Star Senior Living community near you to see if the environment, services and amenities would be the right fit for you.

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When to Move from Assisted Living to Memory Care

It can seem like just another one of those “senior moments” at first. Maybe your dad is starting to have more difficulty with familiar tasks at his assisted living community. A team member calls to tell you he hasn’t been participating in activities due to losing track of time and his way around the community. One of the harder to accept explanations is that your dad may be showing signs of dementia, leaving you and your family with a difficult choice: should he move from assisted living to memory care?

Dementia is a scary word that many associate with a loss of control and the ability to live a fulfilling life. It can be heartbreaking to watch a loved one struggle to recognize their grandchildren or recall that beloved family vacation. A dementia diagnosis, though, doesn’t mean your loved one still can’t find joy and purpose in life. It may just be a sign that it’s time to move them into a community with specialized care and a team that understands how to meet their growing needs with compassion and understanding. This is where memory care comes in.

What is Memory Care?

Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia affect people differently. Over time, it can progress from new problems with words when speaking or writing to issues that affect your loved ones’ safety and quality of life. That’s why the team in a memory care community is made up of memory care specialists trained to help each memory care resident enjoy a life filled with dignity, purpose and moments of engagement.

Memory care isn’t just for helping residents be safe, it is for creating moments of joy by building on each resident’s personal narrative to help them feel successful and connected. Making your loved one feel at home—and offering plenty of opportunities for fun and belonging—are at the heart of a dedicated memory care community. Five Star Senior Living’s award-winning, innovative Bridge to Rediscovery program provides those moments of joy and stimulation, and so much more. Whatever your loved one’s passions and abilities, Bridge to Rediscovery tailors their surroundings and activities around them. Meeting all the resident’s needs is the mission, from basic tasks to helping them find a sense of purpose and connection.

How is Memory Care Different from an Assisted Living Community?

Assisted living and memory care communities offer some similar services, help with the activities of daily living, dining, programs and more. Memory care communities are designed to provide specialized care for residents with dementia. Memory care team members have additional training and experience caring for seniors with dementia who can sometimes express challenging behaviors.

At Five Star, we use the phrase relate, motivate and appreciate. Memory care should relate to each resident’s life experiences so they feel connected to the world around them. We motivate people by focusing on what they enjoy, and we appreciate by inviting participation and giving choices. Programs that include the five domains of wellness: cognitive, sensory, group, motor and purpose help individuals with dementia flourish. A variety of therapies such as music therapy, aroma therapy, art therapy, pet therapy and horticultural therapy are quite helpful to encourage those with memory conditions to engage in the world around them. The activities of daily living (ADLs) offered in assisted living—like bathing and grooming—are still available, but memory care goes the extra step to give your loved one the specialized attention they need to continue to live a healthy and enjoyable life in a safe, secured environment.

4 Ways to Know It’s Time to Move from Assisted Living to Memory Care

It’s not uncommon for people to be more forgetful as they age. That’s what makes dementia so difficult to spot. It can seem harmless at first—a slight disorientation to time and place or stumbling on certain words—before escalating. Those signs of dementia could mean it’s time to make the move to memory care. Here are four key things to watch out for that could signal that it’s time to transition.

  1. Regular Confusion: We all forget to do the dishes or take out the trash every now and then. If your loved one is frequently losing track of time, having trouble expressing themselves or wandering, memory care will be the best choice.
  2. Less Active in the Community: Was your dad once a pool shark in the billiards club, but hasn’t shown up in a while? Maybe he stops by the activity room every now and then but seems distant and disinterested in whatever is going on. Dementia might be making these activities more challenging, and they would benefit from gentler, more cognitively stimulating activities.
  3. Requiring More Help: Is your loved one experiencing difficulties with the daily activities and are they exhibiting a decline in their cognitive abilities and decision-making skills? For example, a parent who has always done a good job managing finances and now their bills are overdue.
  4. Wandering: Becoming lost or exit seeking behaviors can occur at all stages of dementia and there are a variety of causes. Wandering is a sign that your loved one requires a safe and controlled environment.

Your loved one deserves to live an engaging, purposeful life in a setting that is custom tailored to their strengths and abilities. And you deserve the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your loved one lives where they are safe, and have a sense of purpose and belonging. A dementia diagnosis is difficult to grapple with, but you and your loved one don’t have to face it alone. Moving them into a memory care community can help them receive the specialized care they need to live a meaningful life full of joy and laughter.

If you think your loved one is showing signs of dementia and it might be time to move them from assisted living into memory care, find a memory care community near you and meet with the team there to discuss your questions.

What is the Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes?

It’s natural that as our bodies age, we may need help with more and more day-to-day tasks. Perhaps you’ve noticed this occurring for a loved one—from struggling to put on support hose first thing in the morning to fumbling with medications just before bed. Or maybe you’re the one needing assistance. Either way, you’re wondering whether it’s time for a change: Would life be better in a senior living community? Which kinds offer help with everyday activities?

The good news is that you have many options when it comes to senior living. With locations around across the US, there’s a good chance there’s a Five Star independent living, assisted living or memory care community near you or your family. Because there are many choices, however, it can be confusing to know how they differ, and which would be best for you or your loved one.

The similarities between assisted living and nursing homes

Both types of senior communities focus on keeping their residents safe, healthy and happy. Both provide support with what are referred to as Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). These include bathing, dressing and personal care. Other similarities include:

  • Medication Management: Medication errors are a leading reason older adults end up in the emergency room. Managing them can be difficult, especially for seniors who take multiple prescriptions daily. Both types of communities can help residents safely manage their medications.
  • Life Enrichment: We know isolation and loneliness put older adults at greater risk for health problems, such as depression, diabetes and high blood pressure. Assisted living communities and nursing care centers offer a variety of life enrichment activities designed to meet residents’ physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
  • Supportive Services: What causes many older adults to make a move to a senior living community of some kind is the need for support with tasks like housekeeping, laundry and transportation. Both types of communities offer these services.
  • Safe Environment: While their physical layouts are very different, assisted living and nursing care centers are both designed with the security of an older adult in mind. From handrails and grab bars to emergency call systems, both include features to help residents stay safe.
  • Well-balanced Meals: Good nutrition is also a focus for both types of communities. Residents benefit from well-balanced meals and nutritious snacks each day. This is a big plus for adults who may be struggling to shop for food and plan and prepare meals at home.

The differences between nursing homes and assisted living

The biggest differences between these two senior living options are the assistive or medical services provided, living arrangements and cost. Compare the two options here:

ASSISTED LIVING VS. NURSING HOME CARE COMPARISON TABLE

Assisted Living

Nursing Homes

How much care do you receive? In assisted living, residents may need some help with transportation, medication management, housekeeping and other specific activities of daily living such as dressing and personal care, but still live independently. Residents in a nursing home require around the clock care and monitoring. They typically live with more complex health care conditions that require the assistance of a skilled nurse or a physical or speech therapist. Some require respiratory care services.
What other services are offered? Residents receive three nutritious meals each day and access to life enrichment programs in an individual or group setting. Residents receive limited recreational activities along with services like meals, laundry and housekeeping.
What is the living situation like? Assisted living communities are designed to feel home-like and residents typically live in their own apartments or suites with private baths and kitchenettes. Nursing homes have more of a clinical environment and residents typically live in a private or semiprivate room that does not include a living room or kitchen. 
How much does it cost? The median cost of assisted living in the United States in 2021 was $4,300 per month, according to Genworth’s most recent Cost of Care Survey. The median monthly cost of nursing homes in the U.S. in 2021 is about $7,908/month for a semi-private room and $9,034/month for a private room, according to Genworth.

Assisted living: Benefits beyond assistance

Most aging adults seeking help with daily living are not at the level of need addressed by nursing care centers. For many, a Five Star assisted living community may be just what is needed. Our communities offer help with housekeeping, maintenance, laundry and transportation but so much more—including restaurant-quality dining and convenient health services as well as games, clubs and other fun social activities. You get just the amount of help you need to live exactly the life you want to live.

How may we assist?

If you’re looking for an assisted living community, find out if there’s a Five Star Senior Living community near you. We’ll be happy to tell you about all the programs and services we offer to make life easier and more enjoyable!

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Is Assisted Living Tax Deductible?

Creating a realistic budget for a parent’s move to an assisted living community involves many factors. Once you have a reasonable expectation of how much the monthly fee will be, you can begin to outline financing. For many, this becomes a family affair.

It’s common for adult children to pitch in and help pay for care if a parent’s income and assets fall a little short. When that happens, a question that often arises is if assisted living is tax deductible. Unfortunately, the answer is more than a little complicated.

Assisted Living Expenses and Tax Deductions

While some families aren’t aware that they may be entitled to a tax deduction, others who do know about it, find the process too confusing to navigate. Much of the uncertainty stems from the challenge of determining what portion of a senior’s monthly fees are considered medical care. Another difficulty is figuring out if a senior meets the criteria to be a dependent.

There isn’t a quick answer to either of those issues. Some senior living providers can offer a breakdown on which monthly expenses are considered as medical care and which are custodial. This can help address the first issue. The second will be a bit more complex.

Since we aren’t in the business of offering tax advice, we generally suggest families enlist the services of a tax advisor with knowledge of the senior care industry. Before your meeting, it may be helpful to review several areas of the tax code that pertain to senior care and tax deductions:

  • IRS Tax Publication 502: This publication outlines the medical and dental expense regulations. It will give you a better understanding of what the IRS considers to be medical care and what financial threshold you must meet. This section of the IRS code also includes the rule on what a “qualifying relative” is. That’s important for to help determine if the relationship to your family member meets the criteria.
  • IRS Tax Publication 503: Like publication 502, IRS publication 503 further explains what dependent care expenses are. It also outlines which expenses you can deduct for a loved one’s medical care.

Other Ways to Fund Assisted Living for a Loved One

There are other programs that may help pay for a senior’s move to an assisted living community:

  • Aid and Attendance Benefit for veterans
  • Long-term care insurance, which often helps pay for more than just nursing homes
  • Bridge loans to cover expenses while families liquidate other assets
  • Life-settlement funding that pays you for greater than face value of a life insurance policy

The team at Five Star Senior Living can review these and other options in greater detail when you visit. You might also find it helpful to download our Senior Living Funding Guide. This free eBook is a great resource for families to read and share.

How to Move a Parent with Dementia into Assisted Living

When a parent has Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia, adult children may struggle to keep them safe and engaged at home. It is a difficult condition to navigate, especially if family members work outside the home. From nutritional struggles to concerns about wandering, caring for a loved one with dementia can be all-consuming. It sometimes leads families to explore memory care assisted living programs in hopes of improving the senior’s quality of life and their safety.

A specialty dementia care program, like the Bridge to Rediscovery at Five Star, meets the  residents where they are – looking at their current abilities to create a lifestyle that supports engagement so that they  can enjoy their best quality of life. These programs also provide a secure environment that supports freedom while reducing the risk of wandering.

But for many adult children, the idea of moving a parent with memory loss to an assisted living community can create stress and anxiety. It can also lead loved ones to feel guilty about their inability to manage a parent’s care at home.

How can you help a senior loved one with dementia successfully transition to a new environment? We have some tips you might find useful.

4 Tips for Moving a Parent with Dementia

  1. Make it familiar: For people with memory loss, being surrounded by familiar things helps to decrease their stress and anxiety. This becomes more difficult to do as the dementia progresses, so it takes thoughtful planning. Think about the items your parent uses and touches most often. Maybe it’s a throw they cover up with in their favorite chair. Or it could be a cherished photo from their wedding day. Try to recreate their home environment in their new assisted living apartment or suite. Hang their bathrobe up in a place they immediately notice it. Cover their bed with a quilt or comforter they might recognize. Place family photos all around the apartment before they arrive. Whatever belongings signal “home” to your parent are important to incorporate into their new space. One of the signatures of Five Star’s Bridge to Rediscovery Memory Care program is the keepsake box that includes special mementos. Our community team will teach you how to create one for your loved one.
  2. Moving time matters: Adults with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia usually have good and bad times of day. While the disease can be unpredictable, it will help to schedule a move to coincide with their best time of day. For many seniors with dementia, morning is the easiest time, especially if they experience sundowner’s syndrome. If possible, have a relocation company or loved ones move belongings while you keep your parent occupied. Once the new apartment is settled, you can introduce them to their new residence. We have shadow boxes displaying our residents’ pictures and item of personal interest by the entrance to their residence to make it easy to locate and to give a reassuring feeling of belonging.
  3. Create a reminiscence board: When a senior has dementia, they may have difficulty with verbal skills. This makes it more challenging for the staff to get to know them. You can help by creating a reminiscence board or scrapbook with photos of family members along with names and descriptions. Share it with the team members  ahead of time so they can look it over before your parent’s arrival. Once they move in, you can keep it in a prominent place in the apartment to share with staff and visitors. Our Bridge to Rediscovery neighborhoods help the family to complete a detailed life narrative. We learn all about each individual’s story, their career, their hobbies, their like and dislikes and more. This helps make the transition much more comfortable for everyone.
  4. Music as therapy: Many people find the healing harmonies of music to be beneficial. This is true for adults with dementia, too. During this time of transition, play some of their favorite music softly in the background. This can help decrease the anxiety your loved one is likely feeling and unable to verbalize. Set up a small CD player with a few of their favorite musicians. Ask the care team to turn it on when you can’t be there.

When to Make a Transition to Dementia Care

Finally, if you are wondering how to tell if it is time for your parent to move to a memory care community, we have a resource that can help you decide. When to Transition a Loved One to Memory Care outlines signs and concerns that indicate a senior should make a move to dementia care assisted living.

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How to Feel at Home After a Move to Assisted Living

Downsizing and settling in to an assisted living community can feel overwhelming. As is true of any big change in life, moving is an adjustment no matter how excited you are for a new chapter. It isn’t uncommon for seniors and adult children to struggle to unpack, organize, and feel at home.

If you or a senior loved one has recently moved or is planning to, we have a few tips that may help make the transition go more smoothly.

4 Tips for Adjusting to Life at an Assisted Living Community

Get involved before you move.

Many people struggle with change. For older adults who lived in their home for decades, moving can be physically and emotionally challenging. Giving up a home that has many fond memories attached to it can be tough. You might find yourself questioning if you are making the right decision.

One suggestion is to get involved at the assisted living community before moving. Ask the life enrichment team how you can do that. With current concerns about the coronavirus, team members are getting creative about keeping residents safely engaged in activities and events. There might be opportunities for you to connect with residents through video chat platforms, such as Zoom or Skype.

Take your time downsizing and moving.

Unless you must move quickly for a health reason or if your house is sold, try to establish realistic timelines. There are so many tasks associated with downsizing and moving that it’s easy to be paralyzed by all of the details. Hosting an estate sale and finding a charity to donate unneeded household items to are time-intensive projects.

Some older adults and their families wait to list or sell the house until after the move. Then you can set up a more reasonable schedule for downsizing and selling the home.

Make the new place resemble the old one.

An all-new environment with unfamiliar faces can be intimidating, especially for more reserved seniors. One step to settle in faster is to make your assisted living apartment look and feel familiar.

As you plan your move, decide how to decorate your new apartment so it resembles home. While you might need to donate or sell some of your furniture and home décor, hang on to your most treasured items. Incorporating a favorite chair or love seat, framed family photos, and other memorabilia can help make your new residence comfortable.

Be kind to yourself as you settle in.

It’s important to remind yourself that you will have good and bad days during this time. Most residents find as the weeks go by, the good days outnumber the bad. Be patient and kind to yourself while you are adjusting to this change.

Some older adults and their families find it helpful to create a plan for handling bad days. It might be an agreement to call an adult child or watch favorite family videos for comfort.

Visit a Five Star Community Today

Whether it’s an in-person visit or a virtual tour of a senior living community near you, there are many ways you can get to know Five Star Senior Living. We invite you to contact us to learn more!

Contact Us Today

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