Assisted Living Facilities

Senior assisted living facilities are a good housing choice for senior citizens who wish to retain a degree of independence while having access to a level of care that is not usually present at home.

Adults in assisted living facilities may need help with certain daily tasks, but do not require nursing-level medical care. The assisted living cost is usually more affordable than some other senior housing solutions. While assisted living homes are expensive, they are cheaper than nursing homes. Keep reading to learn more about the different types of senior assisted living facilities and how they can help solve senior housing needs.

What is assisted living?

What is assisted living?” is a common question for those first exploring senior housing options. Senior assisted living facilities are a good solution for seniors who are relatively healthy but still need help with certain daily activities. Assisted living homes are also great for seniors who desire more social interaction, but want to retain the privacy of living in their own unit or apartment.

Related Article: Skilled Nursing Facilities

A senior assisted living facility can help senior citizens find a balance between independence and getting the help they need to maintain or improve their mental and physical health.

Services Provided in an Assisted Living Facility

The services provided in a senior assisted living facility are meant to help senior citizens live as independently as possible, for as long as possible. While the services provided at each assisted living home will vary, most provide meals along with an extensive support staff performing these services:

  • Basic health care management and monitoring, such as assisting with blood pressure and blood glucose checks
  • Assistance with medication and reminders to take medication on time
  • Help with activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, eating and using the bathroom
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Transportation to doctor appointments and recreational activities
  • Organizing social events at the senior assisted living facility and in the community
  • 24-hour security and emergency assistance
  • Counseling and other social services

Different Types of Senior Assisted Living

Senior citizens shopping for assisted living facilities will find a wide variety of choices, from sprawling assisted living apartment complexes, to multi-story condominiums to smaller group homes. Those seeking assisted living for seniors on Social Security may have to look harder for affordable assisted living options, but they can be found in many areas. Types of assisted living facilities include:

  • Assisted Living Communities: These senior assisted living communities look like ordinary apartment or condominium complexes, but provide the skilled care services residents require. Seniors live in their own apartment or unit, alone or with a roommate, as desired. Although most meals are taken in communal areas, some senior assisted living units have kitchens or kitchenettes where residents can prepare their own food. Many offer a wide range of recreational activities, such as organized games, exercise classes and holiday parties. Help with daily living tasks can be obtained as needed. Some senior assisted living communities have high-end amenities, such as an indoor swimming pool, on-site theater, hair salon and spa.
  • Continuing-Care Retirement Facilities: This option answers the assisted living vs nursing home question because both options are provided at one location. It can be a good option for seniors who only need basic assistance now, but are likely to need more comprehensive care in the near future. Choosing a continuing-care center eliminates the need to move between senior assisted living facilities when a resident begins to require nursing-level care.
  • Group Homes: A smaller, more intimate senior assisted living solution, group homes are often housed inside an ordinary single-resident house, condo or apartment. Other names for senior assisted living group homes include board-and-care homes, domiciliary care and single-room occupancy homes. Senior assisted living group homes can provide a housing solution for seniors suffering from specific conditions, such as dementia or mental illness. Residents share common areas, such as the kitchen, living room and dining room but have their own private bedroom. Staff-to-resident ratios are often higher in small group homes, and the smaller setting can help seniors enjoy living more independently while still obtaining the help they need.

How to Choose a Senior Assisted Living Facility

Choosing from the many types of assisted living homes can be difficult. Searching for a safe and comfortable senior assisted living facility requires research and visiting facilities to compare benefits. Each state has a long-term care ombudsman who conducts inspections of assisted living facilities and nursing homes. He or she will have valuable insight into specific locations and can tell you if the facilities you are considering have any complaints filed against them.

When deciding on a facility, check the Better Business Bureau for complaints filed against assisted living facilities and to read a score based on their performance through the years. You can also check other websites to read consumer reviews of various assisted living homes and their employees. Consider these factors when making your decision:

  • Look for positive interactions between senior assisted living residents and staff
  • Visit at mealtimes to check food quality and variety
  • Notice cleanliness of both the facility and the residents
  • View social activity schedules
  • Look for a balance between indoor and outdoor recreational activities
  • Tour different types of units or apartments within the assisted living facility
  • Find out if the assisted living facility meets specific medical needs
  • Look for assisted living facilities close enough for friends and family to visit

Assisted Living Cost Factors

When comparing assisted living vs nursing home cost points, you will notice that assisted living is usually less than half the cost of comparable skilled nursing facility care. Even so, the assisted living cost each year can range from $25,000 to $50,000 or more. These costs are not covered under Medicare, but some states’ Medicaid program may pay for the service component of assisted living. Other health insurance plans and long-term care insurance plans may cover some of the costs associated with living in an assisted living home, but most people will have to cover the costs out-of-pocket.

Some seniors choose to cover assisted living costs by applying for a home equity loan or a home equity conversion mortgage, also called a reverse mortgage. These options can turn the equity in a home into cash that can be used to cover senior assisted living fees. If you need low income assisted living for seniors who do not own a home or have other resources to liquidate, contact your state’s long-term care ombudsman for information about Housing and Urban Development (HUD) options that can provide government housing subsidies for senior citizens.

Related Article: Retirement Planning

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