By Christine Kirk, Activities Director
So you or your loved one are considering moving into an assisted living community. Perhaps maintaining your household and cooking meals each day is getting harder. Maybe your health is beginning to decline, or a spouse recently passed away and you would like to know you are in a safe place where your healthcare needs will be met. Perhaps you simply are feeling lonely at home and are ready to move into a community where you can be with friends and enjoy various life enrichment programs throughout the day. Or perhaps you are looking for a parent who is beginning to show signs of dementia, and living at home is getting to be too much for them to manage. There are a plethora of reasons people make the decision to begin shopping for an assisted living residence.
Looking at communities can be overwhelming, and it is a decision that will impact you for years to come. Here, we break down some of the top questions to think about that will help in the decision-making process.
Can I Age-in-Place?
In healthcare, “aging in place” refers to the concept that a person can stay in their residence as their needs change (i.e. significant changes in cognition, or physical decline resulting in a greater need for assistance in bathing, toileting, dressing, transferring, eating, etc.). "Age-in-place" assisted living communities often provide additional levels of service, and some may even offer skilled nursing levels of care. On the other end of the spectrum, communities which do not offer these services would require a resident to move out of the community into a higher level of care if their healthcare needs change.
Assisted Living communities often strive to provide a home-like environment with support services built in place; the ability to age-in-place is a central philosophy to Loudonville Assisted Living. Once a person has made this his or her home, it can be jarring to have to move to another community, and can cause anxiety during the relocation process, often to the detriment of the person's ability to thrive.
As part of Loudonville Assisted Living's "Age-in-Place" model, we offer traditional assisted living, memory care, and enhanced assisted living. Typically, new residents move in to our traditional assisted living, which provides three chef-prepared meals per day; recreation programming 365 days per year that are based upon the interests of our population; community outings; basic assistance in showering and dressing; and medication management. Memory care additionally provides a structured setting and safe environment for residents who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. The number of staff to residents is higher, allowing for residents who may be experiencing falls related to their dementia to have more supervision. Our Enhanced Unit is a higher level of care, and is designed to assist people who need more physical care (assistance with bathing, dressing, transferring, and eating), as well as skilled nursing, care, and oversight. As a person’s needs change, they stay within our community and can take part in many of the same activities.
What Are My Spiritual Needs?
Do you consider yourself a spiritual or religious person? Many seniors have actively been a part of their church or synagogue for years, sometimes decades. If religion plays a major part in your quality of life, you may want to consider a community specific to your religion. For instance, there are Catholic or Jewish communities which are open to all faiths, but predominantly accept other residents from within that faith. Religious programming takes a precedent in the community’s recreational offerings, and may even offer daily opportunities for worship.
If a weekly or monthly service will meet your needs, you may wish to inquire of your assisted living what their pastoral care offerings are. What churches or synagogues are they working with? And how often are services provided?
At Loudonville Assisted Living, we have a broad range of spiritual programs. We offer Jewish services (including a monthly Shabbat service, and observation of the High Holy Days); communion and rosary twice weekly; Catholic mass monthly; and a non-denominational bible study weekly. We also incorporate programs that could be considered spiritual, but not religious, including meditation, reiki, and yoga.
What Types of Things Are Important to My Quality of Life?
Before going on your tour, consider your current daily routine and what things are most important to your quality of life. Perhaps you’re a night person who likes to sleep in mornings and skip breakfast; perhaps you enjoy having a glass of wine before dinner each night; perhaps you’ve always gardened. Take stock of the various things that are important to you, and be sure to ask your tour guide how the community could address each personal preference.
One of the main benefits of an assisted living is that your most basic needs will always be met – you will no longer have to cook, clean, or do maintenance around the house. If you’re coming from a retirement community, you may have already gotten adjusted to this worry-free lifestyle. But if you’re moving from a house you’ve lived in for 60 years, you will find you suddenly have a lot of time on your hands, and you’ll be looking for meaningful ways to fill up each day.
Before you go, think about what kinds of pass-times you’ve always enjoyed, or things you might look forward to doing in the future. Inquire about your interests during your tour – you’ll want to find out what programs are currently in place; ask how the community can support you in finding new leisure interests to pursue; etc. If gardening is important to you, you may want to be in a place with a community garden. For many, a sense of purpose might be of central importance. Without a house to manage, you may find yourself interested in finding other ways you can volunteer within the assisted living, or even out in the community. Whatever your leisure interests might be, ask about what opportunities might be available to you.
At Loudonville Assisted Living, we take a person-centered approach to each resident. Although we cater to a large group of residents, we strive to meet the personal preferences of each resident. If you have a particular interest, discuss it with your activity professional, and we would be happy to partner with you in making this possible.
What Additional Health Services Are Offered At the Community?
Does the community have an attending physician? How about on-site rehab services, or specialists such as podiatrist? If you should need to see a dietician, will one come in to see you? Vaccination clinics and other screenings may also be available. If these things are not available, will transportation be available?
At Loudonville, we partner with Home Medical Associates as our preferred attending physician. While a resident is certainly able to keep his or her current attending physician, by to switching to Home Medical Associates, you can be seen by our doctor on site. Additionally, we partner with a podiatrist, who comes in quarterly to see residents. This cuts down on the need to leave the building for appointments - which is especially attractive in the cold weather months! Our dietician works closely with the nursing and dining staff to ensure residents with complex dietary needs are able to have those needs met. Vaccination clinics are also offered yearly for flu and pneumonia. Lastly, for all other medical needs, Loudonville provides full transportation services to and from appointments as part of the package deal. We schedule appointments for you, and ensure you arrive at your appointments in a timely manner.
What Kind of Value Am I Getting?
Assisted living can be expensive. One of the biggest draws is that at Loudonville, our pricing is all-inclusive. Your care, recreation programming, meals, rent, and utilities are all a part of the package. But some communities include hidden costs that can dramatically drive up the total price, including additional fees for meal delivery, transportation services, special dietary preparations, laundry and housekeeping. It’s important to know the value of what you are getting with the monthly rate. Be sure to ask for a list of any additional fees so that you can make an informed decision based on the best value.
The AARP provides an extensive checklist of questions to ask to further assist you in making an informed decision. You can find it here: AARP - Assisted Living: What to Ask. An informed decision is the best decision.
Thanks for stopping by!