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Why they go

Hoffman said seniors seldom welcomed the idea of leaving their homes, belongings and, partly, their independence. Typically, their children make the first call because of their parents' declining awareness or slow recovery from a medical procedure.

"More times than not I'm surprised to see how well they adjust," he said of moving to places such as Franciscan Villa.

Brinkley said assisted living was a step between independent living and nursing home care, one that many people do not take advantage of soon enough, instead waiting until they're so far along they need around-the-clock nursing care.

When a person enters, even when they need no assistance, "When you need help, it's available," she said, describing the "snowball" effect of declining health and awareness. "Assisted living is a homelike environment where people can have quality of life and social engagement" and have their needs met, she said.

"It's a fabulous lifestyle for those that have financially prepared for it," she said.

Woodard said Epworth Villa, which opened in 1990, has two levels of assisted living and two levels of nursing care. Although it is private-pay, it continues to care for long-term residents who run out of money.

"It really is saying that the not-for-profit has had a commitment for providing care for seniors for many years," he said.

Epworth Villa is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.



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