National Assisted Living Week Celebrates the Advancement of Quality Senior and Long-Term Care Options
HARRISBURG — This week is National Assisted Living Week (September 10 – 16) and Pennsylvania families are enjoying a greater selection of quality senior and long-term care options than ever before with options such as skilled nursing facilities, assisted living residences and personal care homes, said Russ McDaid, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA).
But for many families, questions remain about the type of skilled nursing facility that is best for their loved ones and how assisted living differs from other forms of around the clock care.
“Assisted living is a fairly new category of care in Pennsylvania but one that is sure to grow in the coming years. McDaid said. “One of the first things I tell families is that life doesn’t stop at an assisted living or personal care home, it thrives. By incorporating larger living and activity space and embodying the concept of allowing residents to age in place, this type of care provides residents with quality around the clock assistance without having to move to a licensed long-term care facility when their needs increase.”
The term “assisted living” has been used in Pennsylvania for more than 20 years and applies to both personal care homes and assisted living residences. Both can design programs to meet individual needs — for short-term stays when support services are required and for permanent residency when chronic conditions exist. Both offer a holistic approach to health care that provides residents with quality around the clock care from trained caregivers and in many cases nurses too, but also supports an environment in which residents have a wide variety of options and choice when it comes to their daily activities.
However, assisted living differs from personal care in three ways: construction, concept and level of care. This model been adapted over the years and still is focused on social benefits, but very much incorporates many of the medical services that older residents need to lead full, satisfying lives, while also granting them a greater degree of independence.
“We often see families come for visits without a prior knowledge of the services or care we and other providers offer,” said Michelle Hamilton, PHCA Assisted Living/Personal Care Board Chair and Senior Vice President and Chief of Senior Living Operations for Country Meadows Retirement Communities in Hershey. “Many of our visitors are often surprised to learn about the large degree of medical services that assisted living and personal care are capable of providing to residents.
“Most important of all, the ability for residents to for themselves can serve as a kind of re-birth that re-establishes a sense of purpose and independence. Depending on how a resident feels, his or her day may consist of a variety of activities with other residents and interactions that directly contribute to the quality of life they enjoy, while giving families peace of mind in knowing that their loved one can still lead a full life, while having skilled help nearby.”
There are many compelling reasons why a family may choose an assisted living for a loved one. Some of the benefits include:
- Social activity – while residents may not be able to drive or walk long distances, they still crave an active social life and want to participate in activities. Outside of an assisted living environment, limitations on their ability to get around may isolate them over time, especially if the resident lives alone, and cause them to become withdrawn. At an assisted living facility we bring the socialization to them through planned activities and outings, such as participation in cultural events or enjoying a day trip with other residents.
- Physical activity and fitness – many assisted living facilities offer exercise classes and help with physical therapy and resident fitness.
- A safe living environment – while all of us would rather age at home, that option is not always available. Home modifications and in-home care required for a safe living environment can be very expensive and cost prohibitive for most families. Assisted living is designed for mobility and accessibility, while also offering around the clock expert care and medical attention, if needed.
- Nutrition – enjoying healthy meals is a big challenge for many seniors. In addition to shopping for food, many seniors may find it difficult or tiring to prepare healthy meals that sustain them and keep them healthy. Assisted living staff prepares nutritious meals each day for residents that are tailored to the changing health needs of seniors.
- Daily living – keeping up with daily chores, housekeeping and appointments is often stressful for not only seniors, but also their family. A quality assisted living environment provides relief from these responsibilities with amenities such as housekeeping and transportation services and overall health care management.
“The decision to move a loved one into an assisted living or personal care is a family decision and with the holidays coming up, many families will be spending a greater deal of time together,” McDaid said. “All of us would rather age in place at home, but that’s not always an option. While talking about short-term and long-term plans for loved ones isn’t necessarily anyone’s favorite subject, this upcoming season provides a good opportunity to have those difficult discussions and look at options. ”
“Pennsylvania Newsmakers” is one of the state’s premier politics and public policy television talk shows. The show is available at www.newsmakerstv.com and will air regionally:
- WGAL Channel 8 (Harrisburg and Lancaster) Sunday, September 10 at 11:30 AM
- WBPH (Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia) Monday, September 11 at 8:30 PM
- WKBS 47 (Altoona) Saturday, September 16 at 9:30 AM
- WPCB 40 (Pittsburgh) Saturday, September 16 at 9:30 AM
- Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN) Saturday, September 9 at 6:00 AM—Special Summer 2017 airing schedule