Is Assisted Living Really That Different Than It Was 50 Years Ago?

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There have been dramatic changes over the past 50 years in the way the United States cares for seniors. Once the exclusive responsibility of the family, long-term care has developed into a system that includes formal community caregivers such as home care agencies, facility providers such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and informal caregivers such as friends or family members.

What Is Assisted Living Like Today?

Sara Robertson has been working in her family’s assisted living communities since 1998 and has seen how long-term care has transformed both nationally and locally. No longer are assisted living facilities run under the old military model of efficiency, where shared hall bathrooms, bingo, and processed cafeteria food were commonplace.

Today, assisted living is a place where you can feel at home and be treated like family, says Robertson, who co-owns The Arbors with her cousin Amie Hanrahan. There are plants and pet therapy, gardening areas and elegant dining rooms, wellness clinics and social clubs, endless menu options and customized personal care.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which put together a timeline of long-term care in the United States, long-term care has transitioned from the era of nursing homes to the era of community-based services to the era of health reform.

The Era of Nursing Homes

The Era of Nursing Homes started in 1935 with the enactment of the Social Security Act (SSA). Under the SSA, federal dollars were made available to states to provide financial assistance to low-income seniors. However, the funds weren’t distributed to anyone living in public institutions, which spawned the creation of the private nursing home industry.

During this era, long-term care facilities are built around the old military model of efficiency. Much like older hospitals, nursing homes had narrow hallways and small double rooms. By 1967, states were required to govern the licensing of nursing home administrators to prevent fraud and abuse in nursing homes.

The Era of Community-Based Services

The Era of Community-based Services started in 1974 with an amendment to the SSA that authorized federal grants to states for social services programs, including homemaker services, protective services, transportation, adult day care, training for employment, nutrition assistance, and health support. Regulations were also put into effect at skilled nursing facilities regarding staffing levels, staff qualifications, fire safety, and delivery of services.

The early stages of Robertson’s family’s involvement in senior housing started in 1979, with the construction of housing for the elderly and affordable family housing. Shortly thereafter, Wilbraham Commons was built, laying the groundwork for pursuing assisted living.

Similar changes were happening across the nation, with the SSA allowing states to offer home and community-based services that were not strictly medical in nature. Assisted living communities started offering activities programs, plants and pets became part of the scene, and private bathrooms became the norm.

The Era of Health Reform

Today, Americans are living in the Era of Health Reform, which starts in 2010 with the  Affordable Care Act and continues with the first of the nation’s baby boomers turning 65 in 2011.

Robertson says one of the biggest changes she’s seen in recent years is due to advances in technology.

Technology is changing everything, including the senior living industry,” she says. “Resident medical records are now tracked through software, as are safety checks, resident visits, medication management, and all the personal care components. There are even apps for knowing what activities residents attend.

“When we opened The Arbors 1998, and up until about a year ago, we did every task manually,” she says. “For us, it really helped us know and understand what our customers want and need.”

Another change across the assisted living landscape is the movement toward person-centered care. High-quality assisted living communities provide hands-on human touch, lots of activities, and care directed toward the individual — which is a long way from the nursing homes of yesteryear.

“The idea of focusing on each individual, rather than the building as a whole, really improves the resident’s life and experience,” Robertson says. “We want to ensure their personal care needs are specific to them. Everyone is important and should feel that connection with our resident care aides.”

If you’re considering moving to an assisted living facility, you’re probably wondering what it would be like to actually live in one. Find out in our eBook, What Is Assisted Living Really Like?

 

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    This guide will go over what you need to know before you make a decision.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Are you considering assisted living for yourself or a loved one but are hesitant about the cost? Assisted living costs, services and amenities vary greatly among the last and most expensive communities, and costs are higher in some states than others.

    This guide will answer questions you may have about the costs of assisted living and recommend resources to help you pay for it.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    Often, many adult children avoid bringing it up because it can be a sensitive topic.

    This guide will provide you with helpful tips and insight on how to have a productive conversation with your parent and siblings regarding your parent’s future.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Difficult behaviors in elderly adults are very common. They may be an expression of frustration your loved one feels or a symptom of early stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

    This guide will provide you with skills and knowledge on how to handle difficult behaviors your aging parent may be experiencing.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    There are many questions to answer before making the decision to take care of a loved one.

    This guide will provide answers to questions you may have on this topic.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    This guide will provide you with resources and tools on how to identify depression, what are the common causes of depression, and how to promote mental health in your aging loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Does your loved one need more support than what they are getting? Would they benefit from some assistance with daily activities?

    In this guide, you’ll find answers to the most common questions asked about assisted living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Where do you start searching for assisted living or memory care communities?

    What qualities in a community should you look for? How do you know you made the right decision?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Has your dad stopped getting together for lunches or outings with friends or visits with neighbors? Have you stopped enjoying time with your parents because you’re a caregiver?

    Choosing an assisted living community is a big decision. Learn how to find the right one for you and your loved one.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    No one ever plans to be sick or disabled, and disasters, man-made or natural, can happen at any time, anywhere.

    Yet older adults are among the most vulnerable during a crisis. That’s why it’s critical that seniors, and those who care for them, prepare for emergencies.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Moving to assisted living is a life-changing event.

    This guide provides tips and ideas on downsizing, what to pack and how to make the transition smooth for your senior parent.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this eBook, you’ll learn how to talk with family and friends about caregiving challenges, how to deal with a parent who is resistant to help, how to get more caregiving help from your siblings, and how to keep your job while caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Have you had to cut back your hours at work to care for your mom? Are you worried about administering medications or injections?

    Have you stopped getting together with friends, either because you don’t have the time or you’re too exhausted? Are you becoming the invisible second patient?


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia, including the early symptoms of dementia; the seven stages of dementia and the symptoms that typically accompany each one; and the signs it’s time to start exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    In this guide, you’ll learn about the difference between assisted living and memory care, how health care professionals are trained in dementia care, common features of a memory care community, and questions you should ask when exploring your memory care options.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


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    In this guide, you’ll learn about common sibling conflicts that arise when caring for parents, strategies for getting siblings on board, and where to turn to for help.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    Assisted living can be a touchy subject. No matter how you approach it, your parent is likely to have objections to something.

    As you help them transition to a new stage of life, it helps to be prepared with answers to their questions and concerns.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    A Guide to the Most Common Family Caregiver Challenges Associated with Caring for an Aging Parent.

    You’ll learn about the true costs of being a family caregiver, common family conflicts that can occur when caring for parents, and some of the unexpected challenges of caregiving.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    This checklist will help to make sure you are getting the most out of your visit to The Arbors.

    The list details what important questions to ask during your visit so you are able to make an enlightened choice and find the best assisted living community for your needs.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

    Instant Access to Free Guide


    If you’re unsure what Assisted Living looks like in real life, whether there is a difference with nursing homes or a desire to see how community life unfolds, then this guide is exactly what you need.

    A guide to discover the Care Team and a Typical Day in Assisted Living.


    NOTE: Your privacy is important to us. We’ll never share your details nor spam your inbox.

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