Assisted Living

1/7/2021 | By Rachel Marsh

No longer the “old folks home” of our past generations, assisted living communities are turning former stereotypes on their heads. From the days of sterile institutions to today’s warm and engaging communities, assisted living has changed the game of senior housing.

If you or your loved one are considering taking the plunge, but still have reservations, we’ve put together five of the most widespread misconceptions about assisted living. Hey – they might just surprise you!

1. Days are filled with isolation, free time, and the occasional bingo game

Many people think that residents in assisted living spend their days sitting in their rooms, with no reason to venture out except for the occasional meal or bingo night. They think that, other than that, staff don’t offer activities, social functions, or anything else beyond a TV in the common areas.

But that’s not true! Especially these days, many assisted living communities offer a daily calendar packed with events and activities: from spa days, to trivia nights, to yoga, arts and crafts, birthday parties, and more. And thanks to these activities, there are, of course, constant opportunities for socialization.

And, sure, there might be a bingo game here and there; but, as an activity that’s proven to improve cognitive function, memory recall, and social engagement – bingo is actually more stimulating than outdated!

2. Assisted living facilities are cold and institutional

As with many changes in the senior living world, communities work hard to veer away from the sterile, hospital-like environments of the past. Instead of white hallways, fluorescent lights, and stiff vinyl furniture, communities have started to create a welcoming, home-like atmosphere.

With inviting colors, warm lighting, and friendly décor, many assisted living communities have more of a resort or a hotel type of environment, rather than an institution. The transition from home to assisted living should be more like the transition from – one home to another!

3. Assisted living residents are giving up their independence

Losing independence is one of the most common misconceptions about assisted living. Though no longer living on their own, residents – by no means – are giving up their independence. Residents are free to come and go as they please; they can participate in any, all, or none of the activities and amenities offered; and, just like when they lived alone, they can go about their days exactly how they want to.

In fact, without the hassle of home maintenance and lawn care, many residents find that they enjoy more independence than before!

4. The meals are bland and monotonous

Another thing that many people believe about assisted living is that the food served is reminiscent of your childhood cafeteria days: lukewarm canned vegetables, Jell-O salads, and mystery casseroles, anyone?

But there’s been a wave in the senior living world of healthy meals, fresh ingredients, and even farm-to-table offerings. Communities have realized the lifestyle benefits of prioritizing nutrition and freshness; and, on top of that, the added perks of variety!

Some communities even offer made-to-order meals, always incorporating dietary restrictions and preferences.

5. It’s just another word for “nursing home”

If you think there are common misconceptions about assisted living, nursing homes are even more inundated with them! Let’s start with the difference between assisted living and nursing homes:

  • Assisted living facilities are designed for seniors who need some additional help with daily living – such as bathing, grooming, and medication management – but still wish to remain as independent as possible.
  • Nursing homes, now more commonly known as “skilled nursing care,” provide a higher level of care by medical professionals, often around the clock.

Though they offer similar services, they’re not the same type of establishment. And just like assisted living, skilled nursing care has also improved their practices; facilities are turning from the stereotypical sterilized institution into a warm, home-like atmosphere to best care for residents.

Assisted living has come a long way from our grandparents’ generation. Communities aim to make the transition from home to senior living much smoother – and, often, even more enjoyable!

Rachel Marsh

Award-winning writer Rachel Marsh has written for many different sites and publications on a variety of topics. She is the multimedia editor for Seniors Guide and works hard to make sure seniors and their families have the best information possible. When she’s not writing for work, she can be found writing for fun. Really!

Rachel Marsh