WHAT IS ASSISTED LIVING?
Assisted living is often viewed as the best of both worlds. Residents have as much independence as they want with the knowledge that personal care and support services are available if they need them. Assisted living communities are designed to provide residents with assistance with basic ADLs (activities of daily living) such as bathing, grooming, dressing, and more. Some states also allow assisted living to offer medication assistance and/or reminders. Assisted living communities differ from nursing homes in that they don’t offer complex medical services.
Assisted living communities range from a stand alone residence to being one level of care in a CCRC (continuing care retirement community). The physical environment of an assisted living is often more appealing to both potential residents and their families. These communities offer a more home-like atmosphere with apartment styles that typically include studio and one bedroom models. Kitchenettes usually feature a small refrigerator and microwave.
WHO NEEDS ASSISTED LIVING
Assisted living residents are usually seniors who have had a slight decline in health in some way and need assistance performing one or more activities of daily living (ADLs). Seniors who would like to live in a social environment with little responsibilities and a place where care is easily accessible whenever the senior may need it are the type of seniors you will find in an assisted living community. Statistically, the most common resident of an assisted living community is a female in her mid-eighties.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INDEPENDENT LIVING, ASSISTED LIVING, AND NURSING HOMES
Independent living is a level of care that is below assisted living. Independent living communities are considered to be any form housing that is targeted to seniors over the age of 55. Independent living can include apartments as well as single family homes or townhouses. Typically there are activities planned for the members of the community as well as minimal assistance with yard work or other maintenance issues. Residents maintain as much independence as possible and are still able to perform all of the activities of daily living.
Nursing homes are for older adults who require care around the clock at and at a much higher level than those who reside in an assisted living community. Nursing homes provide staff nurses 24 hours a day.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE RESIDENT’S LEVEL OF CARE NEEDS TO INCREASE
Many assisted living communities allow the resident to age in place. Communities are able to do this because many have care available on-site, and if they do not, they contract with local healthcare providers so that the resident can stay at the community as his or her level of care increases. This care is paid for on top of the monthly rent and varies depending on the amount of care needed.
WHAT TYPES OF ACTIVITIES AND AMENITIES DO YOU FIND AT MOST ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITIES
Typically, all assisted living communities offer their residents prepared meals three times a day and help with light housekeeping and laundry. Depending on the community, residents may have access to a fitness center, swimming pool, beauty salon, post office and transportation. Communities will also plan events, activities and trips that residents can participate in that are anything from happy hour to concerts. Assisted living communities range from very small homes to very large campuses and therefore, amenities vary community to community. Another important aspect of assisted living is that most communities recognize that being able to keep a pet is very important to the resident, and therefore many assisted living communities will allow the senior to bring a pet as long as he or she is able to take care of it.
HOW ARE ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITIES REGULATED
Assisted living is regulated at the state level. Because of that, every state has their own policies that define and regulate what care and services are required for an assisted living community to meet the state standards.
States set regulations to clearly distinguish an assisted living community from other long-term care facilities. Other areas that states monitor are care, providers, food and safety.
HOW MUCH DOES ASSISTED LIVING COST
The national average for a private one bedroom apartment in an assisted living community is a little over $3,000 ($36,000 annually). These prices parallel the cost of living in a certain area. This price will also change depending on the room size, for example a shared apartment will be less expensive and a two bedroom or larger apartment will be more expensive than that average.
HOW DO YOU PAY FOR ASSISTED LIVING
Assisted living is typically paid for from private funds, but there are a few exceptions. Some long-term care insurance policies cover licensed assisted living. Check your loved one’s insurance policy to see if it is covered.
If the resident was a war veteran or is the spouse of a war veteran, he or she might qualify for Veteran’s Benefits that can be used to help pay for assisted living.
In a limited number of states, Medicaid funds and waivers are available to help with assisted living costs.