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  • Michelle Varela

Senior Living



Assisted Living Communities

Cost: The current national average monthly rate for assisted living is

$4,500 per month.

According to some statistics, as many as 70% of Americans will need some form of assisted living at some point. Currently, nearly 1.2 million individuals live in the nearly 30,000 assisted living facilities in the U. S. The national average cost of assisted living is $4,300 / month.


What is Assisted Living?

Assisted living is a residential option for older adults who need help with some of the activities of daily living (ADL’s). ADL’s might include activities like preparing meals, help with getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night, keeping house, and traveling to appointments. An assisted living facility may be a good choice for individuals if they need more personal care services than they can get at home or in independent living facility, but do not need the round-the-clock medical care and supervision of a nursing home. Assisted living facilities offer the safety and security of 24-hour support and access to care. Day or night, help is only a phone call away. However, privacy and independence are encouraged. Most Assisted Living Facilities will develop a personalized plan that meets individual needs and accommodates various disabilities, but also encourages independence.


Living Arrangements and Services

Assisted living residents usually live in their own semiprivate or private apartments, which include a furnished or unfurnished bedroom, kitchen area, and bathroom. Various types of apartments are available such as private studio apartments, one- two bedroom private apartments, one-bedroom shared apartments, and dormitory-style bedroom arrangements.

Although assisted living facilities differ by state, services offered can include:

· Assistance with daily living activities (bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, etc.)

· Central dining programs that include three meals a day

· Educational activities

· Emergency call systems in private and common areas

· Exercise activities

· Health services and medication administration

· Housekeeping and maintenance

· Organized recreational activities

· Laundry services

· Social services and religious activities

· Transportation arrangements

· Wellness programs

· 24-hour security


Is Assisted Living Right for You

The most common reason seniors choose assisted living is to get help with activities of daily living (ADL). Those seeking assistance typically needs help with at least two everyday tasks.

Studies show residents most common ADL needs are:

  • 77% need help with bathing

  • 69% need help with walking

  • 62% need help with dressing

  • 49% need help with toileting

  • 51% need help with bed transfer

  • 26% need help with eating

Other factors that would lead to individuals choosing assisted living facilities include:


Poor Health That’s Just Getting Worse

A chronic health condition that is deteriorating is a cause for concern. According to the National Council on Aging, 80 percent of older adults suffer from at least one chronic disease and 77 percent have two or more conditions. These numbers are especially troubling when you consider the fact that most deaths in the United States are due to chronic illnesses.

Rather than trying to managing one’s declining health on their own, assisted living may be able to provide the care and services needed.


Difficulty with some tasks

Some seniors find it harder than it used to be to keep up with the yard work, household duties, cooking, shop for groceries, and perform other housekeeping activities without help. Many facilities provide help with these tasks as well as with more intimate hygiene activities such as showering, dressing, and using the bathroom. Increased fragility

A risk of falling at home may be an indicator of the need for closer supervision and help in case of falls. Less serious signs can be important too such as sudden weight loss, difficulty getting up from a chair, difficulty navigating stairs and maneuvering around furniture, and problems with balance. Most facilities are monitored on a regular basis to make sure that residents who fall or experiences other health issues on a sudden basis get the help they need immediately, and are not isolated. Help with transportation

Difficulty in navigating or driving a car is an issue for many people as they age. Most assisted living facilities provide help with transport for those who need it. Isolation and lack of social interaction

As people age, sometimes they get more isolated especially with the deaths of family members and close friends who were around the same age. Loneliness plays a big role in a person’s mental well -being. Assisted living facilities offer group activities and encourage residents to be part of a big social circle of friends.


Difficulty maintaining a home

Even if your loved one enjoys some of the chores associated with home ownership, there is a lot to keep up with in a home. Home repairs can be complex and often expensive — and expensive — and they can involve ladders, electrical wires, and other hazards.


Lack of proper nutrition

Often, seniors may lack the energy or resources to grocery shop. In addition, cooking can become challenging for loved ones as they age or lack the motivation to cook for one. This can have negative effects on senior nutrition.

According to a 2020 survey of 1,000 caregivers, nutrition was one of the top three reasons for considering moving a senior family member to assisted living.


Pricing

The current national average monthly rate for assisted living is $4,500 per month.


Most communities charge flat monthly rates, while some may offer an a la carte pricing based on services required. It is important to determine ahead of time, what services are needed and compare prices.

Community move-in fee: Many assisted living communities charge a lump-sum move-in fee. This cost generally ranges from $1,000 to $5,000 and can be paid upfront or in prorated increments over the first year of residence.


Monthly rent: Rent pays for a resident’s apartment and will vary based on size and features. For example, a shared two-bedroom apartment will likely cost less per person than a private, one-bedroom suite. Apartments with kitchens and separate seating areas will cost more than studios.


Services and amenities: Many assisted living communities offer breakdowns of services provided. Some services are included, but some may be charged as a separate fee paid monthly.


Assistance with ADLs including dressing, bathing, and medication management. Communities may charge by the hour for these services or may offer a flat rate based on a senior’s individual needs. A more independent resident may only need one hour of help each day for medication administration, while someone who requires more assistance may pay for three or four hours a day. Pricing for ADL assistance will likely change throughout the resident’s stay, as care needs progress.


Meal plans, often put together by an on-site dietician or company specializing in healthy meals for seniors, generally range from $3-$10 a day and include three meals as well as snacks. Rarely, communities will allow residents to purchase meals à la carte.


Therapies and other services, like physical therapy, occupational therapy, and on-site salon visits, may have individual pricing.


Paying for Assisted Living

Medicare

Traditionally, Medicare does not cover the costs of assisted living or long-term care. However, Medicare will cover qualified healthcare costs while one is living at a certain facility. Medicare is more often used to pay for a skilled nursing facility or home health care.


Medicaid

Medicaid can be used to pay for long-term nursing home care in all states. Many states also allow their residents to use Medicaid waivers to pay for assisted living or in-home care if the services can be obtained at a lower cost.


VA Benefits

Department of Veterans Affairs covers assisted living care for veterans and spouses of veterans who have served at least 90 days on active duty and at least one day during wartime. Applicants must meet a medical qualification test, but their conditions do not need to be related to military service. Called the Non-Service Connected Improved Pension Benefit with Aid and Attendance, or “aid and attendance” for short, this program pays a maximum benefit of $2,085 a month for married veterans, $1,759 for single veterans and $1,130 for a surviving spouse. The VA’s income limit for pension benefits — $21,107 a year for a veteran with no dependents who needs aid and attendance — is offset by the cost of out-of-pocket medical expenses, which may include assisted living care. So if your income is $25,000 and your medical expenses — including assisted living care — are $10,000, the VA counts only $15,000 worth of income toward eligibility.


Private insurance policies

Private insurance policies generally only cover the medical costs of assisted living. Talk with your insurance agency to learn how to itemize costs.


Life insurance

Family members can sell a policy to a third party for market value or “surrender” an insurance policy at cash value to help cover the costs of assisted living care.


Long-term care insurance (LTCI)

Long Term Care policies may cover some costs of care, depending on the provider.

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