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Finding assisted living that's full of life

Oct 19, 2011, 4:05 p.m.

As you get older, you may have to think about an assisted living facility. That can be an uncomfortable prospect for many people, because it conjures up visions of nursing homes full of elderly people. Fortunately, there are many assisted living facilities that don't operate that way—and that will keep you busy and enjoying life for a long time to come.

What assisted living means

Many people who enter assisted living need just that: Assistance. They're still able to do many things by themselves, but they may not be safe or the easiest solution to live on their own anymore. They enter a facility because there's too much danger of them getting hurt, but they don't need the level of care that's given in a nursing home.

If that's where you are in life, you should know that assisted living can be a great experience. You'll make many new friends, which helps to combat the common worry of loneliness. There are also different activities with which you can get involved, depending on your ability level. Some activities are relaxing, while others can be exciting and adventurous. You don't have to languish just because you need a little help sometimes. There's still plenty of life to be lived.

Do your due diligence

In order to find the right assisted living facility for you, don't pick the first one you see or visit. Check around, and even go outside of your comfort zone a little bit. Have you always wanted to live in another city or state? Why not make that dream a reality by checking into assisted living facilities in that location, instead of where you are right now? There's no harm in checking, and you might find the perfect place you just know you're meant to live in and enjoy. Even if you don't find a place right away, don't give up on looking for the right facility.

Talk with the owner or manager of the facility, but also talk to the activities director and some of the residents. You'll get a lot more accurate information about what really goes on at a facility from the people who live there—but keep in mind that what makes you happy may not make them happy. Listen with an open mind, and consider everything you're told. Find out the cost of the facility, and whether you have an insurance plan that will cover it. Also find out how restrictive the facility is, and how much private you'll have if that's important to you.

Feel it out

Sometimes, you can just get a feeling about a place. It's always best to check that out and see what the facility has to offer, so you know whether you'll be happy living there. Look at its weekly calendars to see what types of activities are on tap, and gauge how you feel about participating. It's possible to change facilities later if you aren't comfortable, but it's much easier to make only one move and then just enjoy the time you have at that facility without worrying about moving again. Life is what you make of it at any age, and an assisted living facility that's full of life can help keep you engaged and interacting with people and your surroundings for many happy years.

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