Assisted living is an alternative living arrangement for senior citizens requiring moderate elder care, including help with activities like eating, getting dressed, bathing, and using the bathroom as opposed to the more intensive care provided in nursing homes. This type of care serves as an intermediate between in home care for the elderly and the elder care provided by a nursing home. Facilities for this type of living may be in connection with retirement communities, nursing homes, home health care agencies, or complexes for senior citizens, or they may be separate facilities. This type of elder care is known by many names, such as residential care, board and care, congregate care, and personal care.
Assisted Living Facilities
When looking for an assisted living facility, you can usually expect to have your own room or apartment, provided meals, a staff of caregivers for support, and some or all of the following services:
- housekeeping and laundry
- recreational activities and exercise
- guidance and monitoring of health care
- reminders about or help taking medication
- support with dressing, bathing, and eating
Choosing the Right Assisted Living Community
With these ideas in mind, it is important to choose the right facility for you. Each facility may have different ideologies of caring for the elderly, so not every facility may be a match for the kind of care and services you are looking for. When searching for elder care in an assisted living facility, there are a number of ways to determine whether a certain place will provide you with the comfort, security, and level of care you need:
- Think about your future needs and determine whether the facility can provide the right kind of care for those needs.
- Figure out whether the facility is near family, friends, and shopping centers or other businesses you’d like to walk to.
- Are there admission and retention policies that do not allow people with severe cognitive impairments or physical disabilities to live there?
- Is there a written statement of the philosophy of elder care of the facility, and do you agree with it?
- Make more than one trip to each facility you are considering, sometimes unannounced.
- Try to make some of those trips during mealtimes to check out the quality of food and service to the residents.
- Take note of interactions between residents and those providing the elder care.
- Ask whether each facility offers social, recreational, and spiritual activities based on your interests.
- Talk to residents.
- Find out what kind of training caregivers receive and how often they are trained.
- Review state licensing reports.
Researching Assisted Living Centers
If you have concerns after performing some of the preceding suggestions-or if you would simply like to be thorough in your search-you may also wish to consider the following:
- Call your state’s long-term care ombudsman as well as the local Better Business Bureau to ask about recently issued complaints against the facilities you are considering.
- If a facility is connected to a nursing home or home health care agency, you may want to find out more its counterpart. You can find information about nursing homes on the Medicare website (www.medicare.gov/nhcompare/home.asp).
Assisted Living Financial Considerations for Seniors
Another aspect of assisted living facilities to consider is cost. Assisted living is generally less expensive than nursing home care, but more expensive the in home care for the elderly. The usual range is anywhere from $10,000 per year to over $50,000 per year, so it is important to know what you can afford and how much each facility costs. Another thing to know is that there may be fees not included in the basic rate. It will be helpful to figure out how much extra you will have to pay to live in a certain home.
Insurance may help cover some of these costs, but usually charges are covered primarily by the senior citizens who decide to live in these residences or family members responsible for their elder care. Some facilities also offer financial assistance programs, which you may want to inquire about.
Medicare does not cover the costs of these residences or the elder care provided there. Medicaid-the joint federal and state program that helps senior citizens and people with disabilities pay for health care when they are unable to afford it-may cover the service component of assisted living in certain states.
It is important to consider the different options in elder care. If cost is a concern, it may be helpful to consider in home care for senior citizens. This type of elder care may provide sufficient care for your needs in the comfort of your own home. If the degree of elder care provided by in home care or an assisted living facility does not meet your needs, consider a nursing home.
The Caring Space http://www.TheCaringSpace.com
David Crumrine at the Caring Space We are an organization that connects caregivers and care seekers, providing an easy and affordable resource for families seeking care for friends/loved ones and caregivers seeking employment.
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