As adult children help their aging parents decide how to meet their future housing needs, they typically ask whether the parent is capable of aging in place. Older adults often hope to stay in the family home for as long as they can, but coping with stairs and home maintenance can pose difficult challenges. Children can help if they live nearby, but it may be necessary to hire caregivers to help parents who can no longer live independently.
Family members may need to help senior relatives decide whether it makes sense for them to remain in a family home that has become unsuitable for their needs. For some parents, the time will come to sell the family home and move to an environment that is better equipped to respond to their changing circumstances. When parents need daily help but do not need extensive medical care, children may wonder whether they are qualified to move to an assisted-living facility.
An assisted-living facility is a housing option that serves residents who need help with their activities of daily living (ADLs). Many facilities impose a minimum age requirement (typically 60 or 65).
Certified nursing assistants or staff members holding equivalent positions assure that assisted-living residents receive help with their ADLs. Staff members may help residents bathe and use the bathroom, get dressed, eat meals, and manage their medications.
Staff members who do not have healthcare training provide housekeeping and laundry services. Facilities typically have a meal plan so that residents are freed from the burden of preparing meals.
Assisted-living facilities fill a gap between senior housing options that cater to residents who can live independently and nursing homes that provide around-the-clock healthcare. While they are geared toward residents who cannot live independently, the caregiving requirements of residents can vary extensively.
Qualifications to Live in an Assisted-Living Facility
Assisted-living facilities decide whether to accept a resident after conducting an assessment of the person’s needs. Apart from financial considerations, the facility’s decision to accept or reject an application usually depends on whether the facility can meet the senior’s needs.
Some states require assisted-living facilities to reject applicants who do not need help with their ADLs. A typical rule limits residence in an assisted-living facility to older adults who need daily assistance with at least two living activities. A parent who can care for herself but would like help with housekeeping might not qualify for an assisted-living facility.
On the other hand, regulations vary considerably from state to state. Many states allow facilities to offer varying tiers of services. Some states authorize facilities to offer units to residents who need only the lowest tier — housekeeping, laundry, and other services that need not be provided by a trained professional.
When aging parents need help with their ADLs, the facility’s focus will be on the staff’s ability to meet the resident’s particular needs. Many facilities limit their services to residents who are ambulatory. They might accept residents who need help getting out of bed, while rejecting applicants who need to be transferred from bed to a wheelchair in the morning and back into bed at night.
Some facilities have dedicated memory-care units while others do not. If a parent is suffering from dementia, a facility may reject an application if it does not have the resources to provide the specialized care that dementia patients require.
Some facilities reject applications because they need a greater degree of medical care than the facility can provide. While assisted-living staff members can help residents manage and self-administer medication, they may be unwilling to accept residents who need daily injections that must be administered by a licensed healthcare professional.
Children may need to investigate several assisted-living facilities to find a good match with their parents’ needs. By providing an overview of a parent’s medical condition to each facility, children can determine which facilities are best positioned to meet their parents’ needs.