Sunday, February 23, 2014

In Between: Assisted Living

Photo by Esthr.
It's moving day for many older adults. But where are they going when they have a little trouble living independently?

Until the 1980s, housing for older adults in the United States included two extreme options: they could continue to live in their own homes, or they could move to a skilled nursing facility.

This often left people with a mismatch between needs and services.

They might stay too long in their own homes and manage poorly. Or they might move too soon into a care facility and loose too much independence.

Luckily, there are more housing options today.

Assisted living facilities are a relative newcomer, having been established in the 1980s. The first assisted living facility, Park Place, opened in Portland, Oregon.  Dr. Keren Brown Wilson developed the idea at the urging of her mother, who wanted some place to live that provided her more privacy, independence and dignity than a nursing home.

During the 1980s and the 1990s the number of assisted living facilities grew dramatically.

2007 study by Stevenson and Grabowski found that for every 1,000 people in the United States ages 65 and older, 23 lived in an assisted living facility. (For statistics state by state, see this chart from their study.) According to the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), there were 31,000 assisted living facilities in the United States in 2010.

I have had the opportunity to visit a few assisted living facilities here in Wichita.

Recently, I spent the afternoon with Cathy Curry, director of Homestead Assisted Living of Wichita, located at 12221 W. Maple.

Homestead is part of Midwest Health, which has senior care for 45 years.

The building is ten years old and has 45 apartments and a beautiful dining room that is surrounded by large windows on three sides.

Homestead of Wichita also has a cafe, salon/barber and other amenities. There is a lot of greenery to the west and south, which provides both beauty and quiet.

Services include but are not limited to the following: three meals a day, housekeeping, laundry, activities, around the clock health care services, 24 hour emergency communication system, and assistance with dressing, bathing, medications, etc.

Contact the director for a more complete list or check out their Facebook page to find pictures of their building, grounds and some of their activities.

People who choose assisted living usually need help with 1 or more activities of daily living. Senior Housing Net provides this chart to illustrate the most common needs:

Read more about ADLs here at
If you or one of your family members needs more care than they can arrange at home but they are far too independent for skilled nursing, consider assisted living as a viable "in between" option.


Adding Care to Senior Housing
Activities of Daily Living and Instrumental Activities of Daily Living