Assisted Living Questions

We hope Assisted Living Questions is helpful and helps answers some of your concerns.  Always consult with experts such as your doctor or facility administrators, however, since this information is general in nature and may not be accurate for all facilities.

How does one qualify for assisted living?

As far as financial qualification, if the facility is month-to-month rentals, as most are, there are typically no rules for qualifying.  You just need to satisfy yourself that you can pay the monthly fee in order to remain in the community.

If it is an income restricted community (affordable), there are rules for income limits and other criteria.  The community or State Housing Authority can tell you what the current income limits are.

For continuing care communities (CCRC's), there is usually an extensive review of your assets to determine you are qualified financially to remain there your entire life. There also may be age and other requirements. Check with the individual facility as the requirements vary.

How do I find a facility that is right for me?

There are so many variables in assisted living facilities that you are sure to find one that is right for you. Only by visiting and talking with the Administration can you know if it is right for you. Before entering, most facilities will want a health assessment to determine your needs and level once you apply. This is for your benefit. From this the facility can determine if they can meet your needs.

One can find communities on the internet, at local county planning office, county Office on Aging, or through a Care Manager.  Many assisted living communities can also direct you to ones in the area.

What is the best facility for Alzheimer's.

Alzheimer's needs specialized treatment. A small family atmosphere, a building that is designed for this disease, a daily routine and activities, and intense personal assistance are thought to be best by some experts for the Alzheimer's resident.

Also, a diet specifically for the brain is helpful. It can be a very large facility if the Alzheimer's unit is small within the larger unit. Annual assessments should be conducted to determine if the resident's needs for assistance have changed.Please check with your doctor for advice and with experts in this field as this is an information only website.

How many units in a facility?

There is usually a minimum amount of units in a facility, required by the state, to be called assisted living. They can range from a small home environment of the minimum required units to hundreds of units in one large facility. Due to demand, many facilities continue to add on and expand their size if they have the space or land.

How much does an assisted living facility cost?

Often you cannot find the cost information listed on the websites of facilities. That is because of the tremendous variables unless it is an all inclusive rate where everything is included at one flat monthly rate. If there is no rate listed, you need to visit , email or call the facility to find out the cost.

Information websites that give ranges are no help because at many facilities the rate will depend on how many services you use or hours you require so it is different for everyone. This is why we can usually only give geographic or average cost ranges.

By perusing the website you can guess at approximate costs if you just want a quick idea. The use of such words as elegant, prestigious, luxurious usually denotes a higher range. Words such as affordable, value, low income could indicate a lower range of prices. However, some places can use words such as elegant and value at the same time which may infer an average range despite elegant style. You can also look at photos on the website, although some photos are generic and not real photos of the community.

Remember that there is a wide variance of ranges and often depend on the state or geographic area the community is in.

What is the most important criteria for judging if a community is right for me or my loved one.

I suggest that you meet with the Administrator or Director of the facility. Their personality and demeanor should make you feel comfortable. The facilities often take on the personality of the person in charge. However, you must, of course, then look deeper at further details and make a thorough investigation of the facility and how it meets your individual needs. There is a long list of things to be checked and questions to ask. Be prepared and take a list with you when you visit.

It is hard to pick just one thing but I think the one thing that would be important to me is how you are treated, and hopefully with respect. There are gruff people who can still be respectful and sweet people who are not--be discerning.

How to find out if an assisted living home is under any investigation?

Go to the state site or call the state's ombudsman which usually have those statistics. You can also ask the facility for it's inspections file and license.

What are some of the largest assisted living companies?

There are many. We list them on our Resources page and on state pages.

Are facilities ranked?

States do not give ratings or rankings. Some associations do. The most popular one is the Assisted Living Federation of America.  Update: A few states are now ranking facilities.

How is the monthly fee for assisted living determined?

Monthly fees are determined in many ways: All inclusive rate--the same rate charged to everyone and includes all the services available.

Some facilities have various levels of care within a category--the more services used, the higher the rate. Usually these facilities have more services available than the all inclusive rate.

Some facilities charge by how much time is spent with the resident.

Every facility is different. The least expensive is usually the all inclusive rate and is usually for those not requiring more than basic assisted living services.

What do you mean by independent community.

An independent community or facility refers to the fact that it is a facility that has both independent senior services and amenities and assisted living amenities. You utilize the independent services until you are in need of assistance. You may never need the assisted services but they are there if you do.

What is assisted living?

If a facility is designated assisted living it means you are still independent and mobile.  If you become bed-ridden or cannot get around independently with some assistance, you may then not be eligible to remain in assisted living, and may need to go to a facility that can meet your needs such as a nursing home.

What is a continuing care community?

Other words for this type of facility are CCRC (continuing care retirement community) and lifecare community. This type of facility has different levels of services designed to accommodate you whatever your needs are throughout your lifetime. You must be healthy and independent when you first enter.

There is usually an independent retirement community type lifestyle available, an assisted living facility whether in the same building as the independent apartment, or you would move to another building and there is also memory care and nursing care as well as elderly care and hospice.

Most CCRC's charge a one-time entrance fee and a monthly fee, but there are also some that have no entrance fee. The entrance fee may be refundable, partially or 100%, depending on the community.

Note: It is very important to check on the financial stability of the community if one is putting down a large deposit. The deposits usually cannot be refunded until there is someone who takes your place, but this is not often stated. Read your contracts well especially regarding deposits and seek expert advice. This is an information only website.

Who is a Caregiver?

One who takes care of the person needing assistance with daily living. This often is a spouse, family member, adult child or friend. Experts advise that caregivers take breaks from caring as it may wear their health down. Respite and support programs are designed for the caregiver.

If only one person of a couple needs assisted living, the facility can be helpful in accommodating both persons in various arrangements.  Sometimes one person goes into independent living and the partner goes into assisted living.  This facilitates the needs of both and alleviates the person not needing care of caregiving responsibilities.

What is respite care?

Respite care is for the caregiver to have a "break" from caregiving by placing the person one takes care of in a facility on a temporary basis.  Most facilities have rules such as how long they can accommodate someone on a temporary basis.  Some have a minimum stay while others will take someone for any length.

The person needing assistance stays at the facility and receives all the amenities of the facility while they are there. (Verify with the facility what amenities the person will have access to.)

The facility will state if they have this service, but if it is a month to month facility, it may be automatically available, if space is available. Since you are renting month to month, you can usually leave with a 30 day notice. Respite care is also a good way to "try out" a facility.

What authority outside the facility can a complaint about a facility be made to?

Complaints are handled by the ombudsman for the state. Call that department on its hotline. Most state sites list complaints publicly and have a hotline.

Are there programs for veterans?

Yes, call the VA or read our article about one such program, Aid and Attendance. Some facilities, but not all, may give additional discounts to veterans. You need to ask.  State veterans homes can be a wonderful solution for veterans.

Are there extra costs at assisted living?

You need to ask the facility about all costs. It is very important to make sure you have an understanding of all services available and their costs. This is because you may need them in the future even if you do not need them now. Some facilities have more extra costs than others because they have more services.

What is a reasonable price for assisted living

MetLife has done a study of the average costs of assisted living by state and some cities. The average cost of assisted living in the US is around $3100 and is rising - there are distinct geographic differences--some states are less costly than others. They update their research annually.

What are some common assisted living myths.

There are many. Some main ones are: 1) Assisted living is only for those too ill to care for themselves, 2) You lose your independence, and 3) There is no mental stimulation.

Quite the contrary, today's facilities are trying to overcome these pervasive images--assisted living facilities that are most effective encourage independence, provide mental stimulation, and many facilities, depending on the type, are designed to accommodate seniors who are still working and wish to avail themselves of the services offered as well as those who need daily assistance.

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