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Assisted Living

Assisted Living Overview

We all want to help the older adults in our family stay safe, healthy, and happy. Finding ways to do so can be challenging as a senior begins to require our assistance. Start learning more about the different types of senior care and which one might best fit a loved one’s needs.

What Is Assisted Living?

An assisted living community is the best of two worlds. It is a senior housing option that allows an older adult to maintain their independence while still having the assistance they need nearby. Assisted living communities are designed for adults who need help performing the activities of daily living. It might be assistance with bathing and grooming or a helping hand managing their medication schedule. Although communities have staff on-site 24 hours a day, the goal of an assisted living community is to keep residents as independent as possible. Every assisted living community has a unique personality and offers different levels of care, services, and amenities. Some are more upscale and formal, while others have a casual, relaxed environment.

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The Benefits of Moving to an Assisted Living Community

Research shows just how important where you choose to live matters during retirement. From wellness programs to a thoughtfully-designed environment, here’s how assisted living communities help older adults live their best quality of life.

  • Opportunities for socialization: Isolation has been identified as a health risk for older adults. It contributes to health conditions ranging from depression to high blood pressure. When an older adult moves to an assisted living community, they have opportunities to participate in planned life enrichment activities and informal gatherings. Both can help seniors stay actively engaged with life.
  • Abundant wellness programs: Assisted living communities offer a wide range of resident health and wellness programs every day. They give older adults opportunities to engage in fitness programs and wellness classes. From chair yoga and swimming to meditation and Pilates, most communities have activities planned to engage the body, mind, and spirit on-site—no transportation required!
  • Well-balanced meals: It isn’t uncommon for older adults to rely on convenience foods and fast food. Preparing healthy meals for one or two people can be time-consuming and expensive. Some seniors may have given up driving, making trips to the grocery store more difficult. Assisted living communities have dining services programs that offer well-balanced meals and snacks. Many residents enjoy companionship and socializing in the community dining room during mealtimes.
  • Independence plus support: The older a person gets, the more they may fear losing their independence. But with aging come physical changes that sometimes make living alone risky. A move to an assisted living community is often the best of both worlds. Seniors have the support they need to stay safely independent in their own suite or private apartment.
  • Safety features: Unlike older homes that may have laundry rooms in the basement, outdated bathrooms, and many steps, assisted living communities are designed with safety in mind. Safety benefits include grab bars, handrails, emergency call systems, step-free showers, and staff on-site around the clock.
  • Transportation services: Another benefit assisted living communities offer is transportation. Most communities provide or coordinate transportation services to get residents to and from medical appointments. Scheduled outings to area attractions, shopping centers, events, and restaurants also include transportation.
  • Health management: Assisted living communities also have systems in place for fall prevention, weight monitoring, and chronic health condition management. Medication management support is also offered to ensure residents stay safely on-track with their medications.

Free Advice from an Experienced Senior Care Advisor

If an assisted living facility sounds like a good fit, One of our experienced senior care advisors can help you find a community that best meets your or your loved one’s needs. From cost to location, our team members are experts in guiding families through our resources and helping them understand their senior living options.

Call us at, (888) 514-6461 to learn more and get started. Our advice and guidance are always free for seniors and their families.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Assisted Living

When an older loved one begins struggling to maintain their safety and independence at home, families often begin searching for senior care options. Finding a solution that will keep the senior safe while allowing them to feel independent is usually the goal.

Fortunately, assisted living is a type of care that meets those criteria.

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Answering Commonly Asked Questions about Assisted Living

Q: What is assisted living?

A: Assisted living communities are a popular option for older retired adults because they combine independence with assistance. Residents of an assisted living community appreciate having their own apartment or suite. This allows them to maintain their autonomy and independence while knowing the support of caregivers is nearby around the clock.

Q: What types of care and services are offered in an assisted living community?

A: Assisted living residents can receive help with personal care and the activities of daily living (ADL), including bathing, dressing, grooming, and toileting. Many also require support with medication management.

Well-balanced meals, healthy snacks, housekeeping services, laundry, transportation, life enrichment activities, and wellness programs are usually included in the resident’s monthly fee.

Q: How is an assisted living community different from a nursing home?

A: Families often think an assisted living community is just a fancier version of a nursing home. These two types of senior housing may seem similar, but are, in fact, very different. Assisted living communities focus on providing a level of support that is more custodial in nature and less medically complex. Residents usually need help with two or three activities of daily living: bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting or continence care, and transferring (i.e., from one chair to another).

Residents often need assistance managing their medications, too.

By contrast, residents of a nursing home have more complex medical needs. A resident might live with diabetes and need skilled nursing care to tend to chronic wounds. Or they might have an illness like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that requires support from a respiratory therapist.

Q: How much does assisted living cost?

A: Every assisted living community has its own method of determining pricing. Some communities bundle all care and services into one monthly price, while others have a base price and a variety of added charges.

In 2018, the average cost for assisted living is $4,000 a month. There are some cities and states where the cost of care is much higher or lower. For example, the Northeast has a much higher cost of living and rates for assisted living communities there reflect that difference.

Make sure you understand what is—and isn’t—included in every assisted living community’s monthly fees.

Q: Does Medicare pay for an assisted living community?

A: The answer to this question is sometimes surprising for older adults and their loved ones: Medicare doesn’t help finance assisted living.

Medicare is a health insurance program designed to pay for the health care-related expenses of seniors and younger people who have disabilities. Because assisted living doesn’t meet that criteria, seniors and their families must rely on other types of financing for assisted living.

Q: Are residents allowed to have pets in assisted living?

A: Many assisted living communities allow pets, though there might be size restrictions. Some require the resident to manage their pet independently, while others offer services to help the senior care for their pet.

If you or your senior loved one has a pet that will be making the move too, ask the community for a copy of their pet policy.

Q: Do residents have to sign a long-term lease at assisted living communities?

A: Contracts and resident agreements differ from community to community. In general, most communities only require a month-to-month contract or lease.

Q: Can residents decorate their own apartment?

A: Yes! Communities typically welcome this as it helps the senior create an environment that looks and feels like home. Many assisted living communities also have staff members who help with space planning before the move.

Q: Are families welcome to visit a loved one in an assisted living community any time?

A: A: While assisted living communities usually have open visitation hours, they do ask families to remember the community is home for residents. Early morning or late-night visitors are encouraged to be respectful of other residents.

Connect with an Experienced Senior Care

If an older adult you love is struggling at home, it may be time for to explore assisted living communities. One of our experienced senior care advisors will be happy to help you find assisted living locations nearby.

Call us at (888) 514-6461 for help making a thoughtful, informed decision!

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Financing a Move to an Assisted Living Community

One of the first questions seniors and their adult children ask when they begin the search for senior assisted living is how much it will cost. There are many myths that lead older adults to believe assisted living facilities are only for wealthy seniors. The truth is this type of senior housing can often be an affordable solution.

Average Cost of an Assisted Living Community

While the average cost for an assisted living community in 2018 is $4,000,* the actual monthly cost can vary greatly. A variety of factors can impact the costs, including:

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  • Geographic location
  • Care required for the senior
  • Number of services, facilities and amenities
  • Size of the apartment, rooms or suite

In some states, such as Missouri ($2,844 per month), Arkansas ($3,037 per month), and Georgia ($3,100 per month), the cost of senior assisted living is more affordable. This is especially true when contrasted with Alaska ($6,300 per month) or New Jersey ($6,065 per month).

Understanding the True Cost of an Assisted Living Community

One challenge when searching for assisted living homes is comparing one community’s price with another. That’s because every community has their own way of determining monthly fees. Some assisted living communities offer bundledservices and others have à la carte pricing.

Here are a few factors to keep in mind as you compare assisted living communities:

  • Cost of care charges: Make sure you understand what is—and isn’t—included in the monthly fee. While some assisted living communities include cost of care charges in one bundled price, most assess these separately. Clarify all care charges in advance to make sure you are budgeting appropriately.
  • Apartment or suite expenses: Apartment or suite size and its location within the assisted living community will also impact pricing. Prime first floor spots near the dining room or activity center might come with additional fees. By contrast, a studio apartment overlooking the parking lot or on an upper floor might be significantly less expensive.
  • Basic utilities and cable: Some communities include utilities, local phone service, and basic cable, while others only include utilities. Ask each community you are considering for a list of what expenses you are likely to incur for utilities and cable.
  • Services and amenities: Assisted living communities often offer a wide variety of services and amenities to help residents live their best quality of life. Make sure you understand how much each one will cost. A few examples include transportation, social outings, beauty/barber shop services, laundry, and housekeeping. Some of these may be included in monthly fees and others will be extra.
  • Rate changes: We also recommend you ask how much and how often rates may increase. Most assisted living communities have rate increases every year or two to cover the community’s increased expenses. Your senior loved one’s monthly fee might also increase if their need for care increases. Be sure to ask how the communities assess those changes and how much the increase might be.

Options for Financing Assisted Living

It’s often a surprise for older adults to learn that Medicare doesn’t help pay for assisted living communities. That’s because assisted living is considered custodial care and not skilled health care.

While private funds are the leading source of funding for assisted living communities, there are other solutions that families should explore. A few of the most common ones include:

  • Long-term care insurance: If you or your senior loved one has a long-term care insurance policy, check if it covers assisted living care. Families sometimes assume these policies only cover nursing homes, while some actually include assisted living and private duty home care services, too.
  • Aid & Attendance benefit: For veterans and surviving spouses, there may be additional funding available to help finance senior care. For those who qualify, the monthly award can range from $1,153 per month for a surviving spouse to $2,127 per month for a married veteran. (One of our experienced senior care advisors can help answer questions you have about this benefit.)
  • Medicaid: Some states have expanded their Medicaid program to provide financial assistance to older adults who need it. States believe this helps keep low-income seniors at the level of care that is most affordable and best meets their needs. Call your local agency on aging to learn if your state participates.
  • Life settlement accounts: Older adults often have a life insurance policy they no longer need. Their children are grown and independent, and the senior may need the funds to finance their own care needs. This is when a life settlement company may be of interest. These companies buy the senior’s life insurance policy giving them a lump sum payment in return. The policy holder will generally receive 50% to 75% of the policy’s face value.
  • Bridge loans: Another option for financing assisted living is a bridge loan. These can be especially useful if the goal is to help a senior loved one move to an assisted living community prior to selling their home. It can also be beneficial if you are waiting for the most opportune time to liquidate an investment or asset.

Free Advice from an Experienced Senior Care Advisor

If you are starting to search for an assisted living community for yourself or a loved one, we can help. At no cost to you or your loved ones, one of our experienced senior care advisors can help you set priorities and find a community that best meets them.

Call us at (888) 514-6461 to get started.

Source:

*“Cost of Care Survey 2018,” Genworth Financial, updated October 9, 2018, https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care.html

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