What Are a Resident’s Rights to Privacy in a Senior Living Community?

A big draw for some seniors moving into communities is the variety of activities and programs that are offered. Senior Lifestyle communities offer exercise classes, book clubs, parties, happy hours and more opportunities to gather together and make friends.

But some seniors are looking for a certain measure of privacy. A resident has a right to privacy if they want it, and communities must honor those requests.

Find out more about residents’ rights to privacy in a senior community and what else you need to know about your rights to dignity and privacy in a nursing home.

How Communities Strike a Balance

Monitoring for Benefit of Residents

Communities must provide a level of care for their residents for their own safety, including wellness checks. Especially with Assisted Living and Memory Care residents, seniors are promised assistance with everyday living, including personal care that may include medication monitoring, along with hygiene and toileting assistance.

But even these seniors deserve privacy and dignity. Communities should provide seniors room to make their own choices, depending on their ability.

Social Isolation vs. Right to Privacy

Senior living communities also monitor residents so they aren’t overly isolated. According to a study by AARP, 30% of adults report being left out, isolated or lacking companionship.

Seniors run a higher risk of social isolation and loneliness because they are more likley to endure such life events as chronic illness, hearing loss, living alone, and the loss of family or friends, according to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Senior communities have a responsibility to make sure their residents have their privacy but aren’t too isolated from each other to their own detriment.

How Seniors Should Be Treated

Why Seniors Need Independence

Having lost some measure of independence because of their age and needs, seniors may find themselves discouraged. For this reason, many seniors are still looking for independence and to make their own choices, even when they’re seeking care in a community.

When exercising their independence, seniors will:

  • Develop positive relationships – When given a sense of independence, they can feel confident enough to stay connected with others.
  • Exercise memory skills – Higher activity levels increase blood flow to the brain and can help preserve memory.
  • Feel like an individual – This helps them maintain a sense of self in their environment.
  • Get a sense of purpose – With independence, they have opportunities for achievement, setting and reaching their own goals.
  • Have a sense of control -This promotes a feeling of achievement and self-worth.
  • Maintain balance and strength – This can help them build balance, confidence and strength.

What Rights Seniors Have

Some of your rights and protections as a nursing home resident are codified in a document from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. This list covers participation, discrimination, abuse, neglect, your right to file complaints, and more.

Your privacy, property and living arrangements are listed, too. According to the CMS, nursing home patient rights include:

  • Keeping and using your personal belongings and property as long as they don’t interfere with the rights, health, or safety of others
  • Having private visits
  • Making and getting private phone calls
  • Having privacy in sending and getting mail and email
  • Having the nursing home protect your property from theft
  • Sharing a room with your spouse if you both live in the same nursing home (if you both agree to do so)
  • Being notified before your room or your roommate is changed and should take your preferences into account
  • Reviewing the nursing home’s health and fire safety inspection results

How Levels of Privacy May Differ

Because of differing needs, the level of privacy given seniors may change depending on the level of care offered.

Here are a few levels of care and what privacy may look like in them.

Independent Living

Independent living communities offer a full range of services and amenities, with activity programming, social events and a full calendar of activities.

Residents may expect the same privacy they’d have in an apartment complex, with private space just for them and their guests.

Assisted Living

Assisted living will deliver personalized services and amenities, with support for daily activities. Social events and other activities will be offered.

Senior assisted living patient rights include deciding whether to take part in these activities or enjoy some solitude. However, they may get visits from team members for help with medication, housekeeping, personal care and any other needed support.

Memory Care

Memory care is for seniors living with memory loss, Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Care includes safety and security, and team members interacts more frequently with residents for personal care, medical administration and oversight.

Even with this necessary care, residents still have rights to decide such things as:

  • Participating in activities
  • Hosting visitors
  • Making phone calls and sending emails privately
  • Deciding on treatments

What You Can Do

If a senior or their families feel the resident isn’t being given the care or privacy they deserve, they should sit down with the community administrator to share their concerns. Communities should be eager to address any issues.

If agreement can’t be reached, however, seniors or their families can file a complaint. They should contact the Beneficiary and Family Centered Care Quality Improvement Organization to file a complaint.

Find the Right Level of Privacy and Care

Senior Lifestyle communities offer the care you expect and the privacy you deserve. Find out more about our Levels of Care, and decide which is best for you. Reach out today for more questions about Senior Lifestyle communities.

Find a Community

For more information on retirement and senior housing options, reach out to a Senior Lifestyle community near you.