Posted by Positive Aging SourceBook on 01/13/2020

Assisted Living - Understand Options, Costs and More

Assisted Living - Understand Options, Costs and More

Assisted living communities offer a vital option for older adults who need some assistance with daily living. While the specific amenities will vary, all assisted living communities offer basic services including meals, supervision, security and help with personal care needs. For many residents, the help available at an assisted living community can allow them to continue to live their best life.

In most states, assisted living communities are registered, licensed or certified by an appropriate department or agency of the state that has a process for issuance of initial licenses and for renewing existing licenses. This process provides basic protections for consumers.

Residents of assisted living communities are generally seniors who need some assistance with basic activities, frequently called the activities of daily living (or ADLs). Some communities may accept residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. In fact, some communities may specialize in serving individuals with specific medical conditions, including dementia. A few communities serve individuals of any age with developmental disabilities. When reviewing assisted living communities, consumers should ask about any specializations the community may have.

The services and activities provided in assisted living communities help to promote the quality of life and independence of the residents. One key offering is 24-hour supervision of the residents and the property. Resident safety and security is a priority at all assisted living communities.

All communities also offer three meals a day in a group dining room. However, dining options can vary dramatically in terms of the meals available and the costs associated with meal plans.

Finally, all assisted living communities offer personal care services, also known as help with the ADLs. These services include assistance with bathing, dressing and toileting.

Other services and activities available at some assisted living communities include:

•    Medication management, or assistance with self-administration of medicine

•    Coordination of services by outside health care providers

•    Assistance with arranging medical, health and dental care services

•    Social services

•    Transportation services

•    Outdoor areas for walking or gardening

•    Supervision and assistance for persons with Alzheimer’s or other dementias and disabilities

•    Recreational and spiritual activities

•    Exercise and wellness programs

•    Laundry and linen service

•     Housekeeping and maintenance

•    Individualized services

While assisted living communities do provide a high level of care, it is important to consider what is not provided at these communities before selecting one. Assisted living communities are a bridge between living at home and living in a nursing home. Assisted living communities do not typically provide the level of continuous skilled nursing care found in nursing homes and hospitals. For instance, if a prospective resident needs constant care, a nursing home may be a more viable option.

There is no set standard for assisted living accommodations. Therefore, options can vary greatly from one assisted living community to the next. For instance, some communities offer private rooms featuring kitchenettes and private bathrooms, while others offer shared units or shared bathrooms. Consumers must consider the prospective resident’s personal needs, financial means and personal preferences before selecting a community.

Source: www.ahcancal.org


Pay for Assisted Living - Know your options when paying for care

When considering potential assisted living communities, it is important to research your payment options.

Although Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living, there are a variety of payment sources available. The National Center for Assisted Living reports that “certain services are paid under Supplementary Security Income and Social Services Block Grant programs.” Individuals who meet income qualifications may also be eligible for assistance through their state Medicaid program. Some communities also offer internal financial assistance programs. State and local governments may offer subsidies for rent to those who are income-eligible. Contact the local Area Agency on Aging for more information on subsidies and other payment assistance programs.

Long-term care insurance policies provide another financing option for assisted living. Most of these policies will cover the costs of assisted living. Some of the costs of assisted living are also reimbursable through individual health insurance policies.

While there are other payment options available, the vast majority of assisted living/personal care costs are covered through private payments by residents and families. Individuals should investigate all available payment sources and obtain specific information on standard rates and fees for additional services before choosing an assisted living community.

Financial and insurance experts can provide more detailed information about all the available payment sources.


Small Assisted Living Homes - Residential communities offer a close-knit lifestyle

Assisted living homes with 15 or fewer residents are often called group homes or senior care residences. Many people seeking an assisted living environment for themselves or a family member have investigated these homes as an option along with larger assisted living communities. Most of these homes offer the same services as larger communities, except in a smaller and more intimate setting.

Considering a group home when researching assisted living is an important step if your loved one would prefer a smaller, homelike environment. Some of these smaller homes specialize in care for Alzheimer’s disease or related memory impairments.

Individuals and families get to know each staff member well and can enjoy participating in the preparation and serving of meals, housekeeping tasks, gardening, or other daily activities. Food is prepared in small quantities, and residents are encouraged to help. Group homes are usually nestled into neighborhoods, indistinguishable from other surrounding properties.

Though regulations governing these homes differ across regions, a variety of agencies (county health departments, social services, long-term care ombudsmen) in most counties and cities provide significant monitoring of homes with four or more beds.

As with any community, it is important to visit the homes to talk with staff as well as the current residents and their families. Be sure that you are given specific information about caregiver training, community amenities and costs.

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