If you’ve noticed a loved one asking for assistance more frequently, or being unable to live independently, assisted living may be an option. However, it’s essential to understand who benefits from being in an assisted living community and the qualifications for someone to live in one.
From age to required care levels, it’s challenging to fully grasp the requirements for assisted living without visiting a community first. However, doing your research beforehand can make you better informed to ask the right questions once you arrive.
What is Assisted Living?
As we age, our ability to complete daily tasks can diminish somewhat, making it difficult to manage our lives independently. Assisted living communities provide care and support to individuals who require extra help with everyday activities.
In many cases, individuals lose mobility with age as muscle tissue becomes more rigid and our bones become more brittle. Many assisted living communities focus on helping these individuals by providing on-site occupational and physical therapy and regular wellness checkups.
With age, it can also be challenging to manage tasks like medication management, grooming and hygiene, and nutrition. Assisted living also provides support in these areas.
Assisted Living Requirements
A person must meet a few distinct requirements to enter an assisted living community. It’s essential to understand what qualifies a person for assisted living before inquiring about availability.
In California, a person must typically be at least 60 years of age to reside in what the California Department of Aging calls “Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly.” There are cases, however, where some communities will serve those under 60 if they have similar needs.
Under the federal Fair Housing Act, nobody can deny housing to people based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, or familial status. However, age is not one of the prohibited grounds for denial.
Many senior living homes are exempt from some aspects of the Fair Housing Act based on the “55 and older” exemption. Senior Living homes can require residents to be at least 55 years old. There is an exception: only one resident in each unit needs to be 55 or older. Younger individuals can live in the community with their older spouses.
To be eligible for assisted living, a person must require daily assistance with tasks. Some senior care options called “independent living” don’t hold the same requirements, allowing residents to live in the community for social and recreational purposes with only some moderate care options available.
Residents in assisted living receive a higher level of care. Staff in assisted living communities are specifically trained to meet those needs, so it’s vital to assess the level of care required so ensure residents use the resources available to them effectively.
Some indicators that a person might need to consider assisted living include:
- Requiring assistance with bathing, dressing, and personal care
- Needing mobility assistance, including transferring from bed to wheelchair
- Requiring help with preparing food and maintaining healthy nutrition
- Needing guidance managing and taking medication
- Requiring supervised activities to preserve mobility and motor function
Assisted living resources are specialized to those who need them. However, you or your loved one could consider other levels of care if you require them.
There is only so much help assisted living communities are equipped to provide. When people need a higher level of care, they must be in a place that can give it. For example, people with memory loss conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias often require help exercising cognition, socializing, and maintaining safety.
Staff in memory care communities can provide the specialized care required by people living with memory loss conditions. Their expertise lies in communication, safety, and aid, making it a far better option for those who need that type of assistance.
Seeking Assisted Living Accommodations
If you decide you or your loved one are ready to take the next step in pursuing senior living accommodations, you can find a location near you to visit and see if it’s right for you. It’s essential to get a good understanding of the community itself and whether you like it overall. After visiting a community, you can get in touch with them to inquire about how to make the move and finally experience everything it offers on a personal level.