Louisiana Assisted Living Association talks choice, independence, and quality of life – LIVING WELL Magazine

Assisted Living In Louisiana:

Offering Choice, Independence & Quality of Life

By Lisa Comeaux, Executive Director, Louisiana Assisted Living Association, Northshore and New Orleans LIVING WELL Magazines

A relatively new concept 25 years ago, assisted living is the fastest growing housing option for seniors today. An alternative to institutional care, assisted living offers housing and support services designed to help seniors maintain their independence, in an environment that promotes resident choice and quality of life.

In Louisiana, assisted living services are licensed and regulated as “adult residential care” under the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. There are approximately 140 licensed adult residential care providers in the state operating under three classifications:

Personal care homes – provide housing and support services for up to eight individuals residing in a home that is designed as a private residence;

Shelter care homes – provide housing and support services for nine or more individuals residing in a congregate living and dining setting (semi-private bedrooms and bathrooms);

Assisted living communities – provide housing and support services for two or more individuals residing in private apartments containing a kitchenette and private bathroom.

Typical services include:

  • Three meals a day served in a common dining area
  • Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, and walking
  • 24-hour staffing to respond to both scheduled and unscheduled needs
  • Emergency call systems for each resident’s apartment
  • Medication reminders
  • Housekeeping
  • Personal laundry services
  • Transportation

Assisted living services also include a variety of activities and entertainment to engage residents – from wellness and exercise programs, gardening clubs, games and crafts, to inter-generational activities and planned outings. Activities staff are available to assess each resident’s leisure needs and interests and help them identify programs of interest.

Many assisted living residences also offer specialized care for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Such care typically includes innovative therapies and special activities designed to improve quality of life.

Costs for assisted living services vary with the residence, apartment size, and types of services and amenities offered. The basic rate may cover all services, or there may be additional charges for special amenities. Most assisted living residences charge on a month-to-month lease arrangement, but a few require long-term arrangements.

Residents and their families generally pay for the cost of care from their own financial resources, although some costs may be covered by long-term care insurance. At the present time in Louisiana, no government financial assistance is available. However, war-time veterans and/or their spouses who need assistance with activities of daily living may qualify for VA benefits to help cover some of the costs.

Every assisted living residence is unique, so it is recommended that you visit several before deciding on which will best suit your needs. When visiting, ask for a copy of the resident agreement that outlines the services, fees, move-in and move-out criteria, staffing and house rules.

When considering assisted living providers, look for the following attributes:

  • A residence that is well designed to meet your needs.
  • Floor plan is easy to follow.
  • Doorways, hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms are accommodating to wheelchairs and walkers.
  • Elevators are available for those unable to use stairways.
  • Handrails are available to aid in walking.
  • Floors are made of non-skid material and carpets are firm to ease walking.
  • Residence has good natural and artificial lighting.
  • Residence is clean, free of odors, and appropriately heated/cooled.
  • Staff is friendly and helpful, and residents appear to be well cared for and happy.

Additional resources to assist you in finding assisted living services are available on our website at www.laassisted.org/forconsumers.html.

About the Louisiana Assisted Living Association

Since its founding in 1999, the Louisiana Assisted Living Association (LALA) has grown to become the primary voice for assisted living communities in Louisiana, with 80 member communities across the state. LALA’s mission is to uphold the assisted living industry to the highest standards and enhance the quality of life for residents served throughout the state. For more information, please call 225-791-5811. To reach author Lisa Comeaux, executive director of the Louisiana Assisted Living Association, email lala@laassisted.org.