Pros and Cons of Assisted Living


Quite a few years ago I used this forum when caring for my husband.

Now it's my turn. Would anyone with experience in assisted living facilities be willing to list the pros and cons as you see it or have experienced it.

I live in an Independent Senior Living facility. Help can be hired if needed.

I'd greatly appreciate any pointers you can give.

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I would suggest that if you pick one your selection should include looking at the skilled nursing area. My husband has some type of neurological problem originally diagnosed as Alzheimer's. Before I was told by one assisted living place that at over 250 he was not eligible for assisted living and most dementia units. I looked at many in this area to find one that had the atmosphere that I thought would be best for him. Although I was told that as a resident became worse they would stay in the unit I never saw through the open doors any that were bedfast. Then I found out the criteria here beyond the weight is that if a person would require more than one person to assist in things like transfer to and from a chair, bathing, and other types of care they are no longer eligible for assisted living. Some facilities have what I would call progressive living, independent, assisted, then skilled nursing. Perhaps not in the same building so you would need to look at both. Ask about the usage of the range in the room if they have one depending on how advanced in care you would need.

I looked where my niece was in Minneapolis and was surprised that in a multistory building only three of the stoves were actually connected. They would connect with notice if family wanted to prepare a meal but expected resident to eat in the dining room. This particular one touted the convenience of a bistro that people could get food at all times. That food subsisted of sandwiches and fruit in a cooler. They only served two meals a day if you paid for the meal service. If you wanted an additional meal it was extra. So check out the meal plans. I too will be starting to look for assisted living places for myself although my husband is still in a nursing home doing well.

Finance Some facilities have blanket rates for lodging and food with charges for additional care. Such as making certain you have proper meds etc. Others charge separately for lodging and food. These tend to have either prepaid meal plans or bill at the end of the month. Personally I would like to know how much I owe rather than having a surprise at the end of the month.

Some centers have shuttles to take residents for things like groceries and activities. Find out if you must schedule in advance for a seat and what happens if the shuttle is full if you would like to shop for some of your food and extra treats.

Good luck on your search.

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You will find that the rules and regs will actually vary somewhat from state to state. We moved from CA to PA, and I am training for state-certified nursing home ombudsman here, and there are a number of differences from California. You may also be able to get some free information thru your county office of Aging and adult services, since Ombudsman is a national program.

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One con I thought about is that if you have pets they may or may not be welcome. Most have a limit of two with a max weight of 35 pounds. Some will allow bigger animals but those were rare when I was looking.

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Bruce Cooper

I am a resident of an assisted living facility in suburban N.Y. and have been for 5 years. While I could go on and on about the pros and cons of living in such a place I will narrow it down to a few major points.


Loss of privacy. (Too many people have access to your room, your mail and your health info).

-You may have to share a room with someone you don't like

-Food. Small portions, institutional-like service and prep.

- Closet and storage space almost non-existent.

-Limited transportation options.


- Safety and security.

- Easy access to medical care

- Social services readily available

- Care plan structured to individuals needs

- All maintenance and housekeeping (including laundry) provided.

- Recreational activities every day.

- Access to cable TV and WiFi.

- Companionship.

Of course services and amenities may vary from facility to facility, but these are the basics.

One point to remember. If the prospective resident is not used to living in close contact with others (especially those of a different racial or cultural background, gender or cognitive ability), you may want to re-think assisted living.

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My dad is in Independent Living but one of these days may need to move to additional care. So, I attended a talk at a local continuous care community on this topic. Two points struck me. One: Focus on what you gain by moving, not on what you lose. Two: Don't wait too long.

Your facility might be different of course, but I'll go ahead and state the four main "gains" over independent living at this particular place. Three meals a day, plus access to snacks anytime. Once a week housekeeping. Medication management (she said their average resident has 14 medications to take -- that's a lot of tracking). Assistance with non-nursing care tasks to the level the resident requests (laundry, bathing, dressing, etc).

Waiting too long refers to: how overwhelmed does the person, or the person's family, feel right now? How much will quality of life improve if the burden of worry is lifted? Several family members said they felt such relief, that they could go back to their role of spouse or child, without feeling like they had to be full-time nurse, caretaker, etc.

Bruce Cooper listed good points to investigate. Good luck with your decision.

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I knew 3 elderly sisters who lived in 2 homes, they sold them & moved in to a new place that was just built, there were 2 identical buildings at least 6 stories high, so housed a lot of people, they were so excited, everything new, just wonderful, food was terrific & few months down the lines I asked how it was going & all 3 said, worst thing we ever did, every night the ambulances come & take people away, it's a death house. That's all they talk about, who got taken away last night, food was not as food & same meal every week like mon. noon meatloaf, green beans & mashed potatoes with small vanilla pudding. They stayed until they died as they felt trapped & didn't know what else to do. I think I would want to go to a smaller place, not 1 with 600-1000 people so all you hear is sirens every night! Bigger is not always better!

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Margaret Schultz

Wow, some thought provoking stories here.

My mother has begun talking about assisted living, and it worries me. Largely because of the expense. And also, because the care cannot be monitored regularly. All of her hospital stays and skilled nursing stays have benefitted from us closely monitoring what is going on.

We won't be able to do those daily checks with assisted living. At least, not as closely. (None of us live in the town she has chosen for her retirement).

SIGH all I can say is all of this has made me want to move to a state that allows 'death with dignity' because I'm pretty sure I don't want to be 'sustained' in a catatonic state.

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Most assisted care facilities I visited did allow the family to monitor their family member. Have been in several when family members call and although the person answering does not use the resident's name for privacy issues some of the calls have been complex. As far as monitoring curious what besides her current condition are you wanting to monitor? Even skilled units do not do that much daily monitoring when a resident is in stable condition.

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