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Columns

October 19, 2009

My Turn: Exactly what is assisted living?

(Continued)

This is when the older relative needs help with the "activities of daily living," which is what an assisted living facility does.

Assisted-living facilities, also called adult homes, in New York are licensed by the state to provide assistance with the activities of daily living, which include bathing, dressing, eating, toileting and medication management.

The residents of these facilities are usually frail, elderly people, with an average age of 85 years, in need of assistance with one or more of these activities of daily living, but they do not need the level of care that requires them to be in a nursing home.

If a person actually requires medical care and continuous nursing care, he or she would not be eligible to enter an assisted living community, but rather would go to a nursing home.

It often happens that when an older person suffers a fall and, perhaps, a broken hip, he or she may go to a hospital and then a nursing home and, after a stay at the nursing home for rehabilitation, be discharged into an assisted living community if it would be impractical or unsafe to return to their home.

Assisted-living communities are called "social models," not "medical models," because the residents live in a community where their social needs, such as bathing or dressing, are taken care of but any medical needs are not taken care of by the assisted-living facility.

The assisted-living facility will provide medication management, ensuring that the right pills are taken at the right time; will schedule visits and provide transportation to doctors or other needed medical resources; and will provide "case management," closely observing and monitoring the health and condition of the resident, keeping detailed records in order to determine if the resident can be adequately cared for or needs to move to a more-intensive level of care, such as a nursing home.

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