Today, millions of Americans enjoy the benefits of assisted living and other resident focused care options. Many of these residents choose assisted senior living because they want to continue being actively engaged in their social and personal lives. They deeply value the lifestyle that an assisted living facility affords them, which is a rich life full of choice, dignity, and independence. Not to mention the quality of life that many senior living residents have grown to appreciate each and every day.
With over 31,000 licensed assisted living communities in the United States today, there are a number of options from which to choose. A few initial items to consider include: Where the community is located, the types of care and residential services offered, the type of property, the size of an apartment, the range and price of rent, and perhaps most important, the “gut feeling” you or your loved one experience when touring an assisted living facility.
Assisted living was founded on a resident-centered philosophy that enables choice, preserves dignity, encourages independence, and promotes a rich quality of life. Every day in assisted living communities, the staff members live and breathe this philosophy, which is reflected in the care and service they offer to each and every resident each and every day. This article is intended to be a starting point for researching the best assisted living communities and to help you find the option that is right for you or your loved one.
Who Benefits from Assisted Living Communities?
Seniors who can no longer live alone or be cared for by an aging spouse or family member frequently turn to assisted living communities. Assisted living communities serve senior citizens who require assistance with everyday activities such as meal preparation, medication management, transportation and personal care (getting dressed, taking a bath, etc). Assisted living facilities are also deemed appropriate for seniors who require specialized assistance for Alzheimer’s Disease and related forms of dementia.
What are Assisted Living Communities?
Assisted living communities offer supportive amenities, services, and care in a residential setting with the comforts of home. Assisted living has staff available in the community 24/7 to assist with care, safety, and support. Assisted living communities come in many different shapes and sizes, offering a variety of features, amenities, and prices.
Prices vary with the community, apartment size, and types of services and level of care needed by residents.Typically, assisted living communities charge a monthly rent that includes all of the required residential services and amenities. Additionally, they may charge a monthly care fee based on the level of care a particular resident requires each day.
Some assisted living communities may bundle rent and care fees together. It is also worth noting that many assisted living communities will charge market rates and are private pay, as Medicare does not cover the majority of services offered in assisted living. However, some communities participate in Medicaid waiver programs, so this is worth asking about when you go on a tour of your facility.
What Amenities and Services are Available?
The most common amenities and services offered in assisted living communities are:
- Dining services, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
- Personal laundry services
- Wellness and fitness programs
- Social and recreational activities
What Types of Care are Offered?
Assistance with personal care such as dressing, bathing and grooming is very common in assisted living facilities. Services to assist with continence, medications, memory loss and mobility are also very common. Additionally, residents may be able to bring in outside services specializing in physical therapy, hospice, and other related services.
How Do People Pay For Assisted Living Facilities?
Options many residents and their families have used to pay for assisted living include:
- Income from social security and other pensions
- The sale of the family home and other investments
- Personal retirement savings
- Assistance from family
- Long-term care insurance
- The VA Aid and Attendance Program
- The settlement of a life insurance policy that is no longer needed
- Medicaid may be available on a limited basis to income-eligible seniors
- Choosing to share your apartment with a roommate
Who Oversees Quality and Standards in Assisted Living Facilities?
Assisted living facilities are regulated in all 50 states. The license for every facility should be easily available for you to access in the assisted living community. All state laws also provide for a Resident Bill of Rights, which should be posted in an accessible area of the facility. Assisted living communities are also inspected frequently by the state regulatory agency. Assisted living communities must also comply with local building codes, fire safety regulations, and other requirements.
How Can I Find An Assisted Living Community?
There are numerous resources online and in your community to help you research senior care options more thoroughly and locate options. A few suggestions include: National Eldercare Locator by the U.S. Administration on Aging, Local Area Agency / Council on Aging, and The ALFA Senior Living Community Directory.