Senior citizens are living longer than ever these days. But with an extended life expectancy comes an increased demand for long-term care services.

That's where assisted living communities step in, which are being celebrated during National Assisted Living Week, Sept. 7-13. Administrators of local assisted living communities invite members of the public to visit and take a tour during the week.

Known by many terms, assisted living residences enable senior citizens and individuals with disabilities to live independently in a secure, home-like setting. And while residents are provided with personal care services and medication management, assisted living residences are not hospitals for seniors. They are places where independence, security and companionship are the main concerns.

"Assisted living is really the new wave of elder care," said Terri Schleiss. She is the registered nurse administrator at Necanicum Village Senior Living Community in Seaside.

"It's about creating a place where the needs of the individual are met and where they get the assistance they need. Yet it still gives them the autonomy to come and go on their own."

Most communities offer private apartments for residents, complete with bathrooms. Some include small kitchen areas. Most also have common dining rooms, social rooms, reading nooks, a chapel and physical recreation areas. Many offer their own transportation shuttles for resident's use. Organized social well-being programs are offered, as well as recreational, spiritual and wellness activities.

The assisted living philosophy is based in six principles, said Chirley Kilmer, administrator of Suzanne Elise Assisted Living in Seaside.

These principles are:

• Privacy

• Choice

• Independence

• Individuality

• Dignity

• All of the above administered in a home-like setting.

"You hear so many people say 'I don't want to be put into a home'," Kilmer said. "And yet they don't want to be a burden to their families. Assisted living facilities ensure peace-of-mind for the family and yet allows the senior to remain independent."

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Local activities

Neawanna By-the-Sea Retirement and Assisted Living Community, 20 N. Wahanna Road in Seaside, will host an open house Monday. They will offer information on how to select an assisted living community. A time-capsule ceremony will be at 1 p.m., accompanied by a visit from Seaside Mayor Don Larson.

Clatsop Retirement Village, 947 Olney Ave. in Astoria, invites the public for lunch between 12 and 1:30 p.m. Sept. 8 to 12. Cost is $4 for seniors and children and $6 for adults. Call 325-4676 to set a lunch date.

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