What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living residences are a special combination of housing and personalized support services designed to meet the needs—both scheduled and unscheduled—of those who require help with activities of daily living. Activities of daily living include tasks related to bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, and other similar personal care needs.
Assisted living is a residential option that promotes self-direction and participation in decisions regarding care and services. As a model of supportive housing, assisted living emphasizes independence, individuality, privacy, dignity, and choice. The assisted living package of services can be tailored to meet consumer needs and preferences.
Do Assisted Living residences offer special services and programs for people with Alzheimer disease and/or Dementia? What are special care units?
Many assisted living residences offer specialized services and/or programs specifically tailored to meet the needs of people with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. These special care units are typically located within a residence that has traditional assisted living units, although some special care residences are freestanding and only offer special care. Special care units are usually set in a secure environment with added safety and monitoring (e.g., doors equipped with alarms, special lighting, resident whereabouts checks) and have unique physical environments to foster greater independence, such as secure outdoor areas.
Special care units typically provide more supervision, structure and cues designed to maximize the abilities of people with cognitive impairments. They offer additional staff (e.g., Program Director), specialized staff training, family education programs, and social activities geared to each resident’s abilities and interests. Many also offer activities and approaches that are designed to minimize behavior symptoms such as agitation, and maximize the achievements and well-being of residents with memory loss disorders. Special care units can differ in the level of care they provide along the continuum of the disease. For instance, some residences will provide care until the person with dementia needs skilled care (nursing home care), whereas others are only staffed and equipped to provide services to people who are in the early stages of dementia.