Assisted Living Facility Options for Seniors

Jory Cross by Jory Cross | Licensed since 2012
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This article was updated on: 09/16/2018

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Many older adults may decide to make the transition from independent living to assisted living when they find it is no longer safe for them to live alone or the tasks of daily life become too difficult to do alone. Assisted living differs from a nursing home in that assisted living residents generally do not require intensive medical or nursing care. Be sure to research the costs of the facilities in your area and what your insurance covers. There are a number of options available beyond the standard assisted living facility. A good assisted living facility may provide necessary services while allowing for privacy, independence, and freedom of choice.

Assisted living facility services

Assisted living generally refers to elderly people living in a group environment who receive help with their basic daily living. Senior care facility services may include, but are not limited to:

  • Meals (often taken together)
  • Around-the-clock caregivers and nurses on site
  • Help bathing and dressing
  • Help using the restroom
  • Help taking medications
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Scheduling and transportation to medical appointments (and other transportation)
  • Wellness programs
  • Laundry services
  • On-site security
  • Recreation and social activities

Usually, a resident of an assisted living facility has their own apartment or room in a building with others. Usually when you move in, the senior care facility will assess your condition (should your condition change there is an additional assessment) and create a personalized plan of care. This customized plan is intended to meet your various medical and personal needs.

The elderly housing facility may try to balance your medical and personal care needs with social and recreational activities. These can include dances, crafts, exercise, and more. Assisted living facilities also may have limited medical and health care on site.

Assisted living facility costs

Medicare assisted living financial help is generally very limited. Medicare does not typically cover long term care such as assisted living costs—but you may benefit from long-term care insurance from a private insurance company.

Assisted living facility costs vary a great deal. According to eldercare.gov, depending on the type of services and senior care facility a person choses, the annual price can range from $25,000 to over $50,000. Think of hotels: a motel is cheaper than a fancy five star hotel—but the motel may be perfectly comfortable. You should look at the different environments in each facility to determine which appeals to you. A more expensive assisted living facility could also offer more assistance and amenities than less expensive assisted living facilities. Consider what services are essential for your specific needs. In most cases, you will pay monthly rent and additional fees for extra services.

While Medicare typically does not cover the cost of assisted living facilities or other long-term care, it does usually pay for your health care costs while you are in an assisted living facility. Medicaid generally doesn’t pay for room and board in assisted living facilities, but depending on the state, may cover other costs. Be aware that some facilities may not accept Medicaid patients.

Other Types of Living Assistance

According to eldercare.gov, licensing requirements for assisted living facilities vary by state and assisted living facilities can be called dozens of different names including board and care, residential care, congregate care, and more.

  • Assisted Living or board and care homes (Non-Medical Senior Housing): When you need help with basic tasks like cooking, laundry, medication reminders, consider this type of facility. These are group living facilities for those who cannot live by themselves, but also do not need a nursing home. Private insurance may pay for this sort of home, but Medicare and Medicaid generally do not pay for the most of the costs of these facilities.
  • Home and Community Care. Home community care is care provided in your home. Services can include Meals on Wheels, adult day care, and shopping assistance. Medicare and Medicaid even sometimes help with costs connected with medical care.
  • Subsidized Senior Housing (Non-Medical). Federal and State programs provide housing to seniors with low or moderate income. Some such facilities have assistance for residents ranging from shopping to laundry. In such a facility, you usually live in your own apartment.
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCS). These facilities offer different types of care based on your needs. Some are apartments similar to an assisted living facility. Other residents can receive skilled nursing care in this facility as well. You do not need to move to another facility if your needs change. Residents may move from one sort of care to another as their needs change. These facilities often require a substantial down payment along with monthly fees.

When choosing any of these facilities, visit them and ask questions first. Ensure that they meet all of your needs. When you talk to the staff, are they responsive to you? Are there clear, written facility rules? Talk to residents and stop by, unannounced, with a friend. Be sure the activities and events at the facility appeal to you. Most importantly, find out how the staff is trained and check state licensing reports.

If you’d like more information about Medicare coverage of assisted living facilities or Medicare plans, I’m happy to answer your questions. To request personalized information via email or schedule a return telephone call, click the appropriate link at the bottom of the page. You can also view plans in your area by clicking the “Compare Plans” button.

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