Family is Forever

Local Initiatives Aim to Create Families for Seniors

Article Contributed by
Walt Pickut

Home is where the heart is, and that is where seniors mosly want to stay, right at home with their families. But sometimes even the most active and well-abled seniors need just a little extra help that their family can’t provide. Assisted living is often the answer. At least 12 of New York State’s 500 assisted living communities have made their homes in Chautauqua County.

“Family is Forever” is this year’s theme for National Assisted Living Week® slated for the week of September 10 through 16. It is being promoted by The National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL) to support and celebrate local communities in their efforts to encourage the assisted living component of long term care.

According to the American Health Care Association, the theme “Family is Forever” was inspired by poet Maya Angelou, who wrote: “Family isn’t always blood, it’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.”

Assisted living homes are celebrating these deep and personal connections between their staff and residents. “This National Assisted Living Week,” said NCAL Executive Director Scott Tittle, “we want to recognize these amazing individuals who give their heart and soul to their residents, as well as those seniors and individuals with disabilities who leave a lasting imprint on their caregivers.”

Home Away From Home
“Anyone who has spent time in an assisted living community has seen how staff can come to think of their residents like family,” Tittle said recently in Washington, D.C., opening this year’s promotion of National Assisted Living Week. “It takes a special person to work in our profession, and often, caregivers form bonds that can never be broken.”

Assisted living facilities also strive to offer a home-like setting where a resident’s family can visit without some of the time or crowding restrictions of nursing homes or hospitals. Assisted living is defined as a social model of care as distinguished from the medical model found in a skilled nursing facility. Some residents in assisted living homes in Chautauqua County even keep their own car on site and are free to travel within the community for shopping or visiting family and friends in their own homes.

The core value of assisted living is independence. As much as possible, residents are encouraged and empowered to live their own lives in their own individual living quarters within a larger community residence. Some have called it “a friendly village inside a single building.”

Economic Impact
Across New York State, it is estimated that the 35,500 certified assisted living beds produce, directly and indirectly, more than 26,000 jobs, a $2.6 billion total economic impact and a total revenue adding up to more than $380 million in state/local/federal taxes.

The growth of assisted living represents both an increased awareness of the needs and abilities of older seniors – half of assisted living residents are over 85 years of age – and the economic value of providing such care.

New York State oversees certification requirements of assisted living communities and encourages a full range of housing and services to seniors and to people living with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Several different terms for assisted living are commonly used, including residential care and shared housing for seniors. They offer supportive services, personalized assistance with Activities of Daily Living, and a level of health care somewhat more limited than hospital in-patient care.

Learn More
Readers can log onto New York Center for Assisted Living (NYCAL), www.nyscal.org, to learn more about the state’s legislative agenda and activities regarding this critical component of New York’s health care initiatives on behalf of its senior citizens.