Today, seniors enjoy a wide range of options to choose from when it comes to finding a place to spend their later years. Things haven’t always been this way. In fact, not too long ago, assisted living wasn’t even an option. Prior to the advent of these facilities, older people could only choose between staying at home under the care of a family member or a hired caregiver, or going to a nursing home.
Going to a nursing home was not something one wanted to do, as it often meant forfeiting basic rights, such as the right to privacy. Many times, residents were not permitted to have locks on their doors and would have to share bathrooms. The institutionalized setting and communal bathing and showering areas created an environment all too reminiscent of some of the facilities used to care for the mentally ill. To make matters worse, nursing homes were gaining a reputation for being places where the elderly were frequently mistreated, neglected or even abused.
Dr. Keren Brown Wilson, whose own mother lived in a nursing home, made it her life’s work to develop alternative means to care for the elderly. She was integral in the inception of the first assisted living facility, which would serve as a model for such facilities all across the country. One of Dr. Wilson’s major priorities when developing the assisted living model was to restore the privacy and dignity that were missing in the institutionalized settings of nursing homes. In addition to this, Dr. Wilson made sure that these facilities were adequately staffed with round-the-clock supervision and a more individualized level of care with one-on-one support.
This prototype for a new and innovative way to provide care for the elderly drew attention from many other organizations that then helped turn assisted living into a viable alternative for older adults looking to make the transition to a living situation that provided more support.
The need for supportive living accommodations for seniors is greater than ever, and fortunately, there are a variety of desirable arrangements available. Today’s seniors can choose from different types of assisted living facilities depending on the specific care they need, their budget, and lifestyle choices. Their options, rather than demeaning them at the end of their lives, can help make these years a golden time to enjoy the sunset of their days with few worries.