As your health needs change over time, finding the right type of care — in an environment that works for you — can become challenging. In the pursuit of exceptional lives, many people choose communities that offer a comprehensive continuum of services.
Within the continuum of care, you’ll find levels of living that can meet your needs or those of a relative at every stage of life. Access to a variety of services and amenities within one campus provides you with security and peace of mind. Should your health change in the future, you can stay in the familiar community that you call home.
To provide you with personalized benefits, three levels of living are available: independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. What defines each of these levels, and how can you or your family member transition successfully between them?
For individuals who are self-reliant and need only minimal assistance with daily activities, independent living offers a wide range of services, amenities and opportunities for social engagement to enhance a vibrant lifestyle.
Why Consider Independent Living?
Independent living provides security and peace of mind for residents who seek life enrichment and freedom from home maintenance, meal preparation and housekeeping. A variety of stimulating activities — including wellness programs, travel, and recreational and educational options — are available in independent living communities.
Independent living offers environments that often are more secure than private homes, with features like security systems, handrails and nonslip flooring.
Independent living communities offer a variety of services that may include:
- A calendar of stimulating programs, including opportunities for wellness, learning and socialization.
- Transportation to shopping areas, off-campus activities, medical appointments and other destinations.
- Housekeeping services that can include laundry service.
- Maintenance and repairs to the independent living residence.
- Chef-prepared meals in on-campus dining destinations.
- A monthly fee that includes most utilities.
Most individuals who move to independent living come from active adult communities or their own private residences. Because independent living residents maintain their autonomy, most transition smoothly once they have made the decision to move.
While relocating can be stressful to some degree, individuals who move to independent living are welcome to take familiar belongings with them, including furnishings, décor and small keepsakes.
To reduce the stress of the move, it’s wise to begin downsizing well in advance. The fewer items to contend with on moving day, the less stress you’re likely to feel as you get settled in your new surroundings.
Taking the initiative to meet new people in independent living can help significantly with the transition. You’ll find an endless variety of activities and new faces in your independent living community. By stepping out of your residence and chatting with people, you will feel part of your new community right away.
Assisted living communities offer personal care services, including medication management, meal preparation, and assistance with activities of daily living such as dressing and bathing.
Why Consider Assisted Living?
For individuals who require a little assistance to get through the day, assisted living provides a comprehensive solution. The supportive environment of assisted living allows residents to continue to enjoy the same amenities and services as independent living residents, but with the assurance of assistance with daily activities.
Residents of assisted living typically enjoy their own apartments, where they can have furnishings and decorative items that suit their needs and preferences. If you move into an assisted living community, you can expect to keep your independence as you get the supportive services you need.
From yoga classes to musical performances, you can enjoy a wide range of scheduled programs in your assisted living community. You choose how much you wish to participate and socialize, and both staff members and other residents will respect your privacy.
As you continue to live independently and enjoy the many amenities that assisted living provides, you also benefit from knowing that help is close by if you need it.
Services offered in assisted living include:
- Nutritious meals.
- Housekeeping and laundry.
- Health and wellness programming.
- Cultural and educational enrichment programs.
- Opportunities for socialization.
- Transportation to shopping, medical appointments and other destinations.
- Security systems and personnel.
- Assistance with activities of daily living as needed.
Assisted living works well for individuals who don’t require constant nursing care but need assistance with everyday activities such as tasks related to personal hygiene, medication management and transportation.
The transition to assisted living can present more challenges than moving to independent living for some people. Although some individuals who move to assisted living continue to drive, many do not because of deteriorating mobility or vision — sometimes leading to feelings of a loss of control. However, a majority of communities offer transportation services so residents can still get to where they need to go safely which enables them to gain back feelings of control.
To transition successfully, it’s important for residents to understand that they will retain their independence, autonomy and freedom of choice in assisted living. In many cases, they may be even more independent with the support of the provided services.
Residents living on a campus with multiple levels of living tend to have an easier time with transitioning because they frequently visit friends or participate in activities in the assisted living area. Many appreciate staying in the same community and knowing that they’ll still see their friends and join in community-wide events.
Skilled nursing communities are licensed medical environments that provide around-the-clock nursing care for residents. Some offer both long-term and short-term care, also known as rehabilitation.
Why Consider Skilled Nursing?
A move to skilled nursing typically is driven by the medical status of an individual. In many cases, a resident has a chronic health condition or disability that results in the need for ongoing continual care. Short-term, rehabilitative care also is offered for those who are recovering from surgery, an injury or an illness.
Although skilled nursing communities offer a medical environment, they also provide a variety of services and amenities, including a full calendar of engaging activities.
Services provided in skilled nursing include:
- Medical care from trained professionals. Medical services include activities such as rehabilitation, dressing wounds, managing tube feeding systems, monitoring vital signs and health status, and working with doctors and other medical professionals to manage the resident’s care plan.
- Medication administration.
- Nutritious meals and snacks.
- Programs promoting educational and cultural enrichment.
- Opportunities to socialize with other residents, friends and family members.
- Housekeeping and laundry.
- Assistance with necessary daily activities, including bathing and other personal hygiene tasks, dressing, eating and mobility.
Skilled nursing is an appropriate living option for residents who require 24-hour care and medical supervision. Individuals who no longer live independently and need significant assistance taking their medications correctly, eating and grooming also benefit from skilled nursing.
In many cases, transitioning to a skilled nursing environment can be difficult because residents feel that they do not have a choice due to serious health concerns.
“person-centered care” has significantly changed skilled nursing for the better, with homelike environments and resident choice playing a central role. However, skilled nursing is a medical environment that can make some residents feel that they no longer retain their independence.
Research has found that relocating to skilled nursing can be highly stressful and the adjustment can be extremely difficult. While you cannot predict when you or a family member might experience a serious health problem that will require skilled nursing care, you can choose a community with a continuum of care to make the transition as easy as possible.
In a continuum community, residents who move to skilled nursing often feel that they have choice — because they chose the community. Knowing that friends in the community can visit also makes the transition easier, as does familiarity with skilled nursing, its staff members and its residents.
At Lake Park, we offer a full continuum of living options so you can select the services that best fit your needs. Whether you choose independent living, assisted living or skilled nursing, you’ll enjoy a beautiful community along with amenities like scenic views of Lake Merritt, wellness programs and stimulating activities. To learn more about Lake Park, please contact us.