September 07, 2018
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National Assisted Living Week Hopes to Inspire Residents to Realize Their Dreams and Seize the Day

HARRISBURG — This week is National Assisted Living Week (September 9 – 15) 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).

The 2018 National Assisted Living Week theme, “Capture the Moment,” hopes to inspire residents to realize their dreams and seize the day. The theme also supports reflection, as residents may look back on the pivotal moments in their lives.

The theme also aims to remind assisted living staff that often provide the little, everyday interactions with residents that delivers high quality, person-centered care. Assisted living communities across Pennsylvania are organizing activities and events during National Assisted Living Week that help residents celebrate their past while also enjoying the present.

We want this year’s National Assisted Living Week to help overcome the stigma that older adults in assisted living communities, and other settings for that matter, don’t have a purpose in life anymore. No matter your age, we should all be living life to its fullest. Assisted living caregivers help seniors realize this by supporting them with everyday tasks, while maximizing their independence and honoring their individuality.

“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 Leslie Ray, PHCA Assisted Living/Personal Care Board Chair and Regional Director of Operations of Five Star Senior Living, which has ten communities in Pennsylvania. “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.”

McDaid’s appearance can be viewed in its entirety on “Pennsylvania Newsmakers,” one of the state’s premier politics and public policy television talk shows. The show is available at www.phca.org and will air regionally:

  • WGAL Channel 8 (Harrisburg and Lancaster) Sunday, September 9 at 11:30 am
  • WBPH (Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia) Monday, September 10 at 8:30 pm
  • WKBS 47 (Altoona) Saturday, September 15 at 9:30 am
  • WPCB 40 (Pittsburgh) Saturday, September 15 at 9:30 am
  • MeTV (Susquehanna Valley) Sunday, September 9 at 10:30 pm
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