Assisted living facilities that allow smoking

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Assisted living for senior smokers

Smoking is a dangerous habit indeed, but many seniors may not find it possible to give up in old age. No matter the risks, they will prefer to maintain their habits. Assisted living facilities are designed in such a way that they will do their best to accommodate the previous lifestyle of each resident, while providing the needed assistance with daily tasks. The most important thing to remember is that not all communities of this kind accept smokers. In order to find a facility that will accept senior smokers, a thorough research might be necessary. Keep on reading to discover more information on the subject.

What is the smoking policy within the assisted living communities?

As a general rule, assisted living communities will have a designated outdoor area where residents are allowed to smoke. Depending on each state and the subsequent regulations, some of these facilities might also allow indoor smoking, also in designated areas. The layout of the building will also influence the smoking policy. For instance, if the living unit has a balcony, the resident might be allowed to smoke in that part of the home. Other centers will allow residents to smoke in their units as well.

Before moving into any particular assisted living facility, it might be a good idea to make inquiries with regard to their smoking policy. Even though an outdoor smoking area will always be made available, it is important to understand that not all seniors might be able to use this area. Many senior smokers are dealing with mobility issues or cannot spend too much time outside, especially if the weather is poor. In consequence, a safe smoking area might be established. It should have adequate covering from the rain and other weather elements. Seating might also be available.

If indoor smoking is allowed, then residents mut be informed about the fire safety rules. The staff might set up an emergency evacuation plan in case of fire, practicing fire drills on a regular basis. It is essential to understand that not all senior smokers will understand the dangers of unsupervised smoking or be able to evacuate themselves, should an emergency occur. Sprinkler systems, as well as smoke alarms, might be installed on the premises as safety features. Even non-combustible ashtrays might be used for safety reasons.

Choosing an assisted living community that allows smoking

As a long-term smoker, it is only normal to be on the lookout for an assisted living community that allows smoking. The best thing you can do is organize a list of potential options, and then proceed to inquire about their smoking policy. Of course, you might also want to ask about the overall costs, assistance with ADLs, services, and amenities. Check how often visits are allowed, what group activities are offered, and the type of specialized care offered. The more you know about the facility in question, the easier it will be to determine whether it is a suitable choice for you or not.

It might also be a good idea to inquire about the building layout. For example, many assisted living facilities have apartment complexes. The units may have balconies or not, and it might be possible to live alone or share the respective unit with another resident. More expensive facilities might have a resort-style layout. Some facilities allow for small modifications inside the units, while others will explicitly forbid any changes. As a smoker, you might be under the direct supervision of the campus coordinator, in order to keep the risk of accidents down to a minimum.

Assisted living for seniors who smoke - services and amenities

When looking for an assisted living facility, it is important to be aware of the services and amenities offered. Such communities offer adapted housing and help with ADLs, such as eating, dressing, bathing, or toileting. Specialized care might be available, even though to a limited extent. General services are available to all residents, including housekeeping, meal plans, laundry and linen service, general maintenance, Internet and telephone access, scheduled transportation, etc. Additional services might be offered at extra cost, such as mobility assistance, wound care, diabetes care, and incontinence care.

As for amenities, you can expect a lot of interesting options. Many assisted living communities have swimming pools and gyms, as well as art studios, dance classes, and yoga. Seniors are encouraged to take part in group activities, including arts and crafts, dancing, or reading. The chosen amenities might stem from therapeutic reasons, with the added benefit of socialization. Outdoor trips are organized regularly, including to nearby towns, museums, and shops. Depending on their needs and abilities, seniors might also benefit from various therapies, such as occupational or speech therapy.

With regard to smoking, make sure to think about your habit and associated needs. Choose an assisted living facility that offers targeted services and amenities for smokers. For instance, they should have an outdoor dedicated smoking area. In most cases, these smoking areas are located near the common buildings or in the vicinity of each residential unit. They can be reached on foot within minutes and are wheelchair accessible. Most residents will be able to reach the respective area without assistance. As previously stated, a covering will be provided to protect from the sun and rain. All the official smoking areas are well lit and clean, and cameras might be installed for security reasons.

The smoking policy will be included in the general guidelines, so make sure to check whether you are allowed to smoke inside the unit or on the balcony. Some assisted living facilities might have programs for those who want to quit smoking, but these are not mandatory. You are already dealing with a major transition in your life, so it is for the best to address each aspect in its own time. Be sure to inquire whether the respective facility allows the use of e-cigarettes as well, including indoors. Some communities might accept these instead of regular cigarettes, as there is a lower risk of fire-related accidents. Moreover, seniors are taught not to smoke near residents using oxygen, given the obvious risks.

Supervision might be necessary when it comes to seniors who suffer from cognitive decline and memory impairment. Often times, such residents are not allowed to smoke indoors, given the risk of fire, should they leave a traditional cigarette unattended. Seniors might be able to smoke in the designated outdoor areas, with a member of the assisted living staff providing the necessary supervision. Assisted living facilities have safety measures planned for smoking-related situations, such as accidental burns. They might also provide care for health complications resulting from smoking. It is for the best to check out the comprehensive health program before committing to any particular senior living community.

Respecting others should be a goal

Just because you have moved into an assisted living community that allows smoking, this does not mean you should disrespect others. The other seniors might not appreciate being exposed to smoke, so you need to respect their desires and smoke only in the designated areas. If you are sharing the unit with another resident, make sure he/she is in agreement with your smoking habits. Respect the rules imposed by the assisted living facility and do not engage in conflicts with the other residents on account of smoking. Review the smoking policy before signing the contract.

Second-hand smoke might disturb the other residents, and this is the main reason why assisted living facilities will have a strict smoking policy. The outdoor areas designated for smoking must be placed at least three meters away from the building. If smoking is allowed inside the units, adequate ventilation must be ensured. At the same time, the units should be properly sealed, to prevent the second-hand smoke from traveling to the other units. Some assisted living facilities might also create a smoking room, which is tightly sealed and regularly ventilated. The health and safety of all residents must be ensured at all times.

If you are interested in quitting smoking yourself, you might consider joining the campus programs, such as Freedom from Smoking (American Lung Association) or Quit for Life (American Cancer Society). Nicotine patches might be given for free and health classes are often organized, so as to draw attention to the health risks associated with long-term smoking. The staff might also implement the coaching/buddy system, encouraging seniors to support one another during the difficult period of nicotine withdrawal. Seniors might be asked to take part to presentation sessions on the subject of smoking cessation, with the staff making available written information on the subject.

Questions to ask prospective assisted living communities

Most assisted living facilities allow prospective residents to take tours of their campus and check out the services provided. During the tour, seniors are able to ask questions, with the staff being more than happy to answer them in detail.

Here are some of the most important questions you might consider asking:

  • Can you provide general information about your smoking policy?
  • Are there designated outdoor areas for smoking?
  • Is smoking on the balcony allowed? What about inside the actual unit?
  • How are the outdoor smoking areas designed? Do you offer protection against weather elements and easy access?
  • How are residents with limited mobility helped when it comes to smoking?
  • Is supervision offered for residents who suffer from cognitive decline or memory impairment?
  • Can you offer details on the fire safety rules? How often are fire drills practiced?
  • Does the facility have an emergency plan in case of fire or other smoking-related emergencies?
  • Do you have sprinkler systems? What about smoke alarms?
  • Do you provide programs to support seniors in quitting smoking?
  • How is the security of smoking areas guaranteed?
  • Do you provide healthcare in case of accidental burns or smoking-related health complications?
  • Are e-cigarettes allowed on the premises?

Smoking safety screening in assisted living communities

All residents who want to move into assisted living must undergo what is known as the initial assessment. This is necessary to determine whether the resident in question is suitable for the respective facility or not. As part of this examination, a smoking safety screening might be undertaken as well. The screening might focus on the following aspects: ability to safely light a cigarette, holding the cigarette without support, using an ashtray without difficulties and as intended, preventing ashes from falling on the clothes, and putting out the cigarette.

A psychologist might attend the respective screening, in order to assess the senior’s cognition and his/her decision-making abilities. As many seniors take medication that might impair their thinking, the treatment plan will be analyzed as well. Smoking might turn into a dangerous activity if the senior suffers from the side-effects of medication, such as dizziness, drowsiness, and sedation. To reduce the risk of accidents and keep the senior in question safe, supervision during smoking might be necessary. In addition, should the resident not respect the smoking policy, he/she might be asked to relocate. This will be enforced even more if the senior has put other residents in danger.

The smoking safety screening will be repeated at regular intervals, as residents might experience changes in their health and cognition. Someone who was deemed a safe smoker might suffer accidental burns, as he/she becomes unable to light a cigarette independently. In certain assisted living facilities, residents are obliged to light their cigarette in the presence of the staff. They do not have access to smoking materials on their own. The designated smoking areas have concrete floors and sprinklers, without any hazardous materials nearby.

If you are planning on moving into assisted living, then the first thing you need to do is find a facility that accepts smokers. Review the smoking policy and determine whether the community in question is suitable for you or not. As you will see for yourself, these facilities go at extreme lengths to ensure a safe smoking environment. They are regularly updating their safe smoking policy, performing smoking safety screenings for all residents. Residents have access to designated smoking areas and there are quitting programs for those who like to escape this habit.

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