Health News

What you need to know about assisted living

Don’t know what an assisted living facility is and how it differs from a retirement home? And how much can you expect to pay? Here is a guide to this type of senior housing.

What is assisted living?

Assisted living facilities occupy the middle of housing for people who can no longer live independently but do not need the full-time medical supervision provided in a nursing home. They may be suitable for those who have difficulty moving, washing, eating or dressing, or who have Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.

Assisted living facilities may look like luxury apartments or modest group homes, but they are equipped with aids that can help residents take a shower, get out of bed, go to the dining room , take medications, or carry out other daily tasks and needs. . Meals, activities and housekeeping are generally provided. Some facilities have trained nurses on-site, but in many states, facilities are not required to have them on hand, if at all. Popular buildings – or specialist units within them, such as those for dementia – have waiting lists.

“The key is to start early,” said Eilon Caspi, a research assistant professor at the University of Connecticut. “You don’t want to wait for the crisis and then have 24 hours to make a decision.”

How do I know how much an assisted living facility will cost me?

Monthly costs for living in a facility typically range from $3,000 to $12,000 or more. The charges are often divided into two elements: rent and a care plan. Rents are set in the same way that landlords set them for apartments, with larger units in more expensive areas having higher rents and more likely rent reductions when many units are vacant.

Care plan costs are based on the level of assistance the facility believes residents will need, at least when they first move in. Most assign residents a “level” or “level” based on the extent of their needs, but some will. detail fees for specific services. It’s like the difference between a prix fixe menu and an a la carte menu (except you can’t choose which approach you prefer at each establishment). Assisted living units or facilities dedicated to residents with dementia are more likely to set an overall price, although many have tiers.

Make sure the facility’s rating reflects what the resident will need, otherwise the price could increase if they provide more help than expected. Check if meals are charged separately.

What accusations might surprise me?

Facilities often have one-time upfront fees, such as move-in fees or “community fees.” You should ask if there are additional charges for things residents might need or use, such as nurse visits, cable TV, or other types of assistance: these charges can add up quickly. They are not detailed as included in the care plan. Some places even charge more if you buy medications from a pharmacy other than the one they have a business relationship with.

It is worth checking back a few months after moving in to see if the care plan is superior to the resident’s needs. If this is the case, ask for a price reduction to remove services that are not being used.

Is it better to opt for an establishment that charges a fixed monthly amount or one that charges for each service?

If you want predictability in your monthly bill, you’re safer with an all-inclusive installation or one that bills in tiers or bundled services. This is also true if you need help with many things. If you don’t need much help, the a la carte menu may be preferable. Some facilities have an independent living wing or a program with a la carte rates, which may be preferable for those who only need sporadic help. If you need more help over time, you can move to the assisted living section or program and receive a care package.

What happens when a resident gets older and more frail?

Care plans for those who need the most help can be double or triple the cost of those for the most independent residents. Ask the establishment to explain the causes of the price increases. Be honest with yourself and the establishment about what you can afford when the bill goes up, because it will. “You have to understand that your future is coming,” said Karen Van Dyke, a certified senior counselor in San Diego who helps families find the right facility for them.

Also make sure you understand the maximum level of care the location can provide. If you need more, the house may require you to move. For example, some facilities will accommodate people with occasional memory loss or disorientation, but not those whose dementia causes delusions, agitation or aggression. There are fewer legal protections against evictions in assisted living facilities than in nursing homes. Be realistic about your needs: No one wants to move into a nursing home, but it’s dangerous for residents to stay in an assisted living facility that can’t care for them.

What happens if I run out of money?

You may have to leave. Most assisted living facilities are for-profit and have no legal obligation to care for the indigent. About one in five facilities accept Medicaid to help pay the cost of care, but Medicaid doesn’t cover rent for assisted living facilities, so even then you might be forced to leave. Some states or counties will help cover the cost of housing if you have no savings and little retirement income, so it’s worth finding out if this is available. (Call your local Agency on Aging for help.) Some facility owners will accept lower fees for longtime residents, but they are the exception.

How can I know the quality of an installation?

While it’s easy to be impressed by the fancy dining options, sparkling chandeliers, and other building amenities, none of these are indicators of quality care. If you’re considering multiple facilities, find out the ratio of residents to aides – nights, weekends as well as days – and whether and when there are registered nurses in the building.

The person who manages the establishment is often called the administrator or director. Ask how often this position was renewed. If an establishment has had several administrators in a few years, this is a troubling sign as to the quality of its management and its owners.

What are the best non-profit or for-profit assisted living facilities?

Researchers have found that for-profit establishments in Minnesota and Florida are more likely to be cited for violating state health regulations, but there is no strong nationwide evidence. There are good and bad facilities in both types of ownership: A small, for-profit residence with a committed on-site owner may provide better care than a mediocre nonprofit. Be aware that nonprofits are generally not cheaper than for-profits: although they are not required to provide returns to investors, they operate like a business and must earn more than they spend every month to improve their investments and avoid liquidity. flow problems. Nonprofit organizations often use the same pricing methods as for-profit organizations, and many charge more.

What should I look for during a visit?

Kristine Sundberg, executive director of Elder Voice Advocates in Minnesota, a coalition of family members, advises people to observe how residents interact with a facility’s workers. “Are they active and busy, or are they slumped in a chair, ignored? she says. You might try going there on weekends, when staff are often at their smallest. Ask the facility if they will allow families to install cameras in residents’ rooms so you can monitor them remotely.

Who can help me?

Along with consumer groups like Ms. Sundberg’s, some of the most knowledgeable independent experts are long-term care ombudsmen, federally funded advocates for residents of nursing homes and other nursing homes. elderly. Each state has such a program with advocates assigned to particular regions. A regional agency on aging is another source. These agencies are local government or nonprofit organizations that each state designates to help older adults. They can help you understand your financial options and find facilities. You can locate your agency via

If you want to see a facility’s violation history, search for the state agency that licenses assisted living facilities. In some states, this is part of the Department of Health, while others assign this task to their social department or social service agency. A report is written after the inspection of a facility. Licensing agencies may post inspection reports on their websites, although they are not always easy to find. It’s a red flag if a facility is cited multiple times for the same issue.

Jordan Rau is a senior reporter at KFF Health News, part of the organization formerly known as the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button