When is assisted living the right choice?

Elmcroft of RoswellBy Michelle Ettenger
Elmcroft of Roswell
Roswell, Georgia

Member of the national ElderCare Matters Alliance, Georgia chapter

Not too long ago, families had few choices for senior housing. If an elderly person was unable to manage in their own home or could not be cared for by his family, then the nursing home for the infirm and the most frail was the only housing option available.

Today, it is quite different.

Families now can find a wealth of communities providing services at a variety of care levels, including independent living, assisted living, personal care, memory care, home health care with therapy services, and home care companion services.

Each offers a different range of elder care services so that residents can design a lifestyle that comfortably fits their personality and abilities.

While independent living caters to those still able to manage by themselves, assisted living communities offer a residential setting to those who require monitoring of their daily living tasks as well as 24-hour care staffing. With the additional assistance of home health nursing, rehabilitative therapies and, at times, hospice care, assisted living can provide appropriate care into all stages of late life.

Yet assisted living is not intended or designed to meet the acute needs of those who require skilled nursing services and continuous medical attention.

Assisted Living Considerations for the Individual
  • What are the unique needs and interests of the individual?
  • Do they need the benefits of a licensed nurse on staff because of numerous medical issues?
  • Are they outgoing and social enough to benefit from a full, diverse activities program?
  • Are they suffering from memory loss or early dementia which requires a more uncomplicated environment with routine prompts and reminders by staff?
Community Differences

Assisted living communities come in all shapes and sizes, from the small converted ranch-style personal care home of a few residents to the massive grand hotel-like setting of well-appointed apartments and an extensive list of social amenities.

State guidelines mandate that assisted living communities provide three meals a day plus snacks and offer assistance with housekeeping, laundry, hygiene, medication management, care needs, activities and safety – through the watchful oversight of their residents.

Yet, how these services are delivered will be unique to each facility.

Knowing that an assisted living community has a good track record and a good reputation is essential when evaluating assisted living alternatives. Also, ask to see the state inspection report. All assisted living facilites are required to have a copy of their most recent survey available to anyone.

Other Considerations
  • What is your initial emotional response to the place?
  • Is there a sense of warmth and belonging?
  • Does it feel like the best fit for the elder who’ll be living there?
  • Would your loved one feel at ease here?
  • Is this a place that the family would enjoy visiting?
  • How are your senses impacted – what do you see, hear, taste, and smell?
  • How are meals presented?
  • Is the building well maintained and clean?
  • Do the residents and staff look happy to be there?
  • Do the residents appear to be well cared for?


  • discuss staff hiring practices and staff retention rates,
  • talk to other senior care providers and resources, and
  • see if the facility is a professional member of the Georgia ElderCare Network. One of the roles of this organization is to guide Georgia families to some of the state’s finest senior housing communities, including assisted living facilities.

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