Everyone says that my parent needs to go to Skilled Nursing for care, why?  Do they need 24/7 nursing assistance?  And for the level of care does your loved one have a feeding tube, catheter, ventilator, intravenous medicine or unable to help in their transfer from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to bed, etc.?  And do they require Medicaid to subsidize their housing costs?

If any of those things are not needed then maybe an Assisted Living community would be a better option.  Keep in mind that St. Louisans really didn’t have the option of assisted living until the mid 1990’s.  Prior to that time, options were staying at home, a hospital or nursing home.  Prior to this, assisted living as we know it did not exist.

In Missouri there are two levels of Assisted Living Facilities, ALF* (1) & ALF** (2) and they both have the ability to help with a residents’ Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s).  These include assistance with bathing, dressing, toileting, other general hygiene needs and diet restrictions.  So, even if your loved one is incontinent, but is able to physically help with some of their personal hygiene, they are likely an appropriate client for an assisted living community.

The major difference between the two levels of licensure in assisted living is the resident’s ability to assist in their pathway to safety during an emergency.  Within an ALF** they are able to provide more than minimal assistance to their residents to safely evacuate.  If the community chooses to maintain the required staffing they are allowed to have an Individual Evacuation Plan (IEP), which allows the resident to be escorted to the area of refuge.  So, even if your loved one is in a wheelchair or has macular degeneration, an ALF** with required staffing, may still be appropriate for them.

While safety and appropriate care are always the top priorities, it is worth noting that most St. Louis assisted living communities cost less than skilled nursing.  The savings can range from $1,200-$3,400 per month, depending on a number of factors including the level of care required, room size, amenities, etc.  So assisted living can not only provide a more vibrant and thriving community, but can in many cases also preserve financial resources as well.

With the changes in the level of care that St. Louis assisted living communities provide, most older adults do not need skilled nursing care.  This can be a big benefit to their quality of life, because they are given their independence, social stimulation and dignity, while keeping them in a safe environment.