As time goes by, many older adults may find themselves in need of assistance with various activities of daily living (ADLs), such as toileting, bathing, dressing, eating, and grooming. When this time comes, you may consider moving yourself or your loved one to an assisted living home for additional care and support.
Choosing an assisted living facility, whether for yourself or a loved one, is an important decision that requires careful consideration. If you don’t know where to start, the process can quickly get overwhelming, especially in a state with numerous assisted living options. The most important thing is to find a place that will give you or your aging loved one the best care and support.
Here is what you need to know about assisted living and helpful tips on how to choose an assisted living facility in Florida.
What Is Assisted Living?
Assisted living is a type of residence for older adults or people with disabilities who need daily care but not as much care as a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility provides. In an assisted living facility, residents may get access to medical care when needed, as well as help with ADLs such as personal grooming, eating, toileting, walking, and shopping. The facility usually provides housekeeping, laundry, meals, security, and transportation services.
Assisted living facilities vary in size from as few as 25 residents to over 120 individuals. Residents in assisted living communities are charged basic monthly rent for a private apartment or room. They also pay an extra fee based on the level of care they need, with residents needing higher levels of care paying more. Assisted living residents usually have access to shared common areas, such as a cinema room, dining area, gym, library, or pool.
Residents are assessed before moving into an assisted living community to get an individualized service plan that meets their needs. As time passes, the facility reassesses and updates the service plan as needed.
Since assisted living facilities are regulated at the state level, the services offered to residents vary from one state to another. While some assisted living communities provide basics such as meals and social activities, others offer over-the-top amenities such as spas, salons, gaming rooms, fitness centers, and bars.
Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home
Although both senior living options focus on keeping their residents safe and healthy, they’re quite different. Assisted living facilities promote independence and choice among residents with different abilities. On the other hand, nursing homes mainly focus on catering to individuals who need a higher level of care and medical assistance for various health conditions. Most of the time, residents in nursing homes suffer from chronic illnesses and injuries that make independence impossible.
Assisted living communities are best suited for older adults who want to live on their own terms but need help with various activities of daily living. In contrast, many people turn to nursing homes when they need more extensive care and consistent medical assistance than assisted living provides. Some people also move into nursing homes temporarily after being in the hospital. Once they make a full recovery, they go back to their homes.
Assisted Living vs. Group Home
Assisted living facilities and group homes provide residents with a comfortable environment where they can live independently around their peers. However, there are several key differences between the two senior living options.
- Size of the community or residence — Group homes usually have about 5-10 individuals living there. On the other hand, assisted living communities are generally bigger, with some having over 100 residents. The profitable nature of assisted living facilities means they must have proper licensing to operate.
- Personal care — Residents in group homes are expected to manage their own personal care needs. As a result, you’re unlikely to find trained staff in group homes helping residents with activities of daily living. On the other hand, assisted living communities have trained staff members who offer personal care to residents who need it. For example, Diamond Assisted Living & Memory Care offers several additional services to residents depending on their individual needs and preferences. These services include medication management and assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing.
- Living situation — Group homes provide a cozy, intimate, and home-like environment to residents without the added responsibilities of an apartment. In a typical group home, residents share a room or have their own bedroom with a private bathroom. However, the rest of the living space is shared with other residents. On the other hand, assisted living facilities offer individuals more options. Depending on the assisted living community and your budget, you may choose to live in a studio, one- or two-bedroom apartment.
- Cost — The cost of assisted living and group homes varies greatly depending on the location and level of care needed. However, group homes cost relatively less than assisted living communities. This is because operating group homes requires lower overhead costs, fewer amenities, and less trained staff.
Choosing an Assisted Living Facility in Florida: Where to Start
According to the Florida Health Care Association (FHCA), there are 3,080 licensed assisted living facilities in the Sunshine State. With so many options, choosing an assisted living home for yourself or a loved one in Florida may seem like such a daunting task. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be.
Consider the following factors when looking for the ideal assisted living facility.
The importance of an assisted living facility’s location depends on the potential resident and their preferences. Most people prefer to move into assisted living communities close to their existing communities, while others are open to relocating if the right facility comes along.
Frequent visits from family members and friends can ease a person’s transition from independent to assisted living. If this is important to you or your loved one, consider choosing an assisted living home close to family, friends, and familiar surroundings. This way, family and friends can visit regularly during the weekends and holidays.
You may also want to choose an assisted living community near your doctor and other health providers to access high-quality medical care easily if needed.
Size and Layout of the Community
According to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), the average size of an assisted living community in the United States is 39 licensed beds. However, there are still smaller facilities that accommodate about 4-10 beds and extra-large communities with more than 100 beds. Before choosing an assisted living facility for your loved one, it’s important to consider their preferences regarding size.
Some people may prefer to move into a smaller facility to be in the company of a few other seniors, while others may feel more comfortable in a bigger facility with many amenities. Before settling on a community, consider walking around to inspect its layout and determine whether or not it fits your mobility needs.
Services and Level of Care Offered
Although assisted living residents do not require 24/7 care like nursing home residents, they usually need assistance with some daily living activities like grooming, eating, toileting, walking, and medication management. Ensure you choose an assisted living facility that will provide your loved one with the level of care and support they need to make their stay more comfortable.
In addition to assisting with ADLs, some facilities offer extra services like meal preparation, housekeeping, transportation, wellness programs, physical therapy, and financial counseling. There are also assisted living communities that provide tailored services to residents with various health conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s.
Most importantly, choose an assisted living home that allows you to upgrade your loved one’s care plan if their needs change.
Available Amenities and Activities
Life in an assisted living home can quickly become boring if there is nothing fun to do. So, choose a community with amenities and recreational activities that align with your needs and interests. Most facilities offer amenities and activities that focus on improving the resident’s physical, mental, and spiritual health.
Common amenities and activities include group outings, cooking classes, crafting sessions, movie nights, social events and fitness programs. Other amenities such as swimming pools, beauty salons, spas, landscaped gardens, and libraries may also improve the residents’ quality of life.
Safety and Security Measures
Older adults are more susceptible to slips and falls than younger people. This is mainly due to their poor eyesight, decline in muscle mass, illnesses, and the effects of certain medications. For this reason, it’s important to select an assisted living home with the necessary safety measures to protect its residents.
Ideally, the facility should have non-slip flooring, accessible handrails, and sturdy grab bars to help reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents among residents. Accessibility features such as wheelchair ramps, elevators, widened doorways, and stairlifts are also worth considering, especially if your loved one has physical disabilities.
Additionally, you want the assisted living home you choose for yourself or a loved one to have robust safety and security measures such as emergency call systems, fire safety equipment, secure entrances and exits, CCTV cameras, and well-trained staff to handle emergencies. Such a facility will allow you to rest easy knowing your loved one is in good hands.
Staff Qualifications and Experience
Well-trained, experienced, knowledgeable, and compassionate staff members are more capable of providing you with the care and support you need and handling issues that may arise along the way. The staff should also be friendly and respectful. Caring, warm, and empathetic staff will help create a positive caregiving environment for all residents.
The facility’s staff-to-resident ratio can affect the quality of care and life of residents. This ratio indicates the number of staff members or caregivers responsible for every resident in the facility. For example, a 1:10 staff-to-resident ratio means one staff member or caregiver is responsible for 10 residents during their shift.
A higher staff-to-resident ratio means that your loved one will receive more desirable and personalized care since the staff members or caregivers at the facility are responsible for fewer patients. If the staff-to-resident ratio is too low, the staff members or caregivers will likely be overworked and stressed during their shifts. This can easily affect the quality of care they offer residents, knowingly or unknowingly.
Cleanliness and Infection Control
Maintaining a clean and healthy environment is vital for residents’ overall well-being and mental health in assisted living communities. While touring different assisted living facilities, take note of how clean everything is. Avoid dusty facilities with unpleasant smells — it may be a sign of poor management.
Also, inquire about the facility’s infection control measures. A reputable facility should be able to answer all questions about hygiene protocols, vaccinations, and outbreak mitigation procedures.
All assisted living facilities must be licensed by the proper state agency. This way, you’re legally protected and have a place to turn if you need to file a complaint. In Florida, assisted living communities are regulated by and must obtain a valid license from the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA).
Ensure the assisted living home you choose is within your budget and will provide your loved one with the care they need. When comparing the pricing structure of different assisted living facilities, remember to inquire about the monthly fees, additional fees, and the services included. Afterward, make a list of affordable facilities near you and narrow your options based on what’s important to you.
Contact Our Assisted Living Facility in Green Cove Springs Today!
Diamond Assisted Living is dedicated to providing the best care and support to older adults in Green Cove Springs and its environs. We offer a wide variety of services and amenities customized to meet each resident’s individual needs and preferences. Our caring and well-trained staff can help you with medication management and assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing and grooming.
If you’re looking for a reputable assisted living facility, memory care community, or retirement community in Green Cove Springs, we’re happy to discuss your needs and find a program that’s perfect for you. Contact us today!