Seniors and their families typically visit multiple communities and conduct extensive research before deciding on a provider that best meets their needs, budgets and preferences. The decision to move into an ALC or PCH is the chosen path for thousands of seniors throughout Georgia. This private-pay alternative to the mostly government-funded skilled nursing facility model is saving taxpayers tremendously, while allowing seniors the flexibility to age-in-place in settings of their choice.
Assisted living facilities, including memory care communities, have proven to be extremely popular with residents and their families as a less-restrictive, community-based alternative to nursing homes. As the rate of Alzheimer’s disease increases among seniors and as researchers seek a cure, assisted living can provide a safe, home-like environment that promotes dignity and respect with trained staff who are knowledgeable about the condition and its symptoms.
By 2050, the population of Americans who are 85 and older will triple. Falls, heart disease, osteoporosis and dementia are common, chronic conditions at the age of 85 – the age of a typical senior living resident. Senior living providers understand that the aging process is universal but not the same for everyone and that on any given day, an ALC or PCH could be the site of an unfortunate event.
Risks are reduced through ongoing quality assurance processes, and expectations are reached through trust and communication. One-on-one care at all times is not feasible for most, and even a resident who is monitored can experience a negative incident for a variety of reasons. Through a commitment to best practices, policies and procedures, negative incidents can be minimized. But, make no mistake, neglectful or abusive treatment of individuals should be punished to the full extent of the law, and any provider who does not grasp the seriousness of these issues should not be licensed.
Legislation was passed earlier during the 2019 legislative session that allows ALC’s to provide greater access to comfort measures for residents enrolled in a hospice program. Furthermore, my colleagues and I support other legislative priorities that remove barriers to providing high-quality care:
- Supporting programs and services that encourage individuals to save for their long-term care needs and allow seniors to live in the least restrictive and most integrated setting of their choice.
- Supporting efforts to protect vulnerable seniors from financial exploitation, while ensuring eligible veterans receive the benefits that they are entitled to receive.
- Supporting implementation of policies that aim to effectively prevent and treat Alzheimer's disease by 2025.
- Supporting low-income seniors through innovative solutions to overcome barriers to receiving appropriate care.
Currently, assisted living facilities in the state provide Georgia seniors and their families with safe, nurturing, community environments and are evolving to meet their needs more effectively.
State Rep. John LaHood represents District 175 and is a provider of senior care.