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Elderly Housing: Assisted Living

Assisted living is a popular alternative in senior housing.  This option is appropriate for individuals who wish to live independently but may require some help with everyday living; seniors who need 24-hour medical care are usually not suitable for this type of residence.

Assisted living often offer features similar to those in an independent retirement community.  Yet, also accessible is an added measure of supportive services which could include meal preparation, home cleaning, showering or bathing aid, assistance with dressing, laundry services, transportation, recreational activities, medication reminders, etc.  Different types of facilities are available under the assisted living umbrella.  Some residences are located in elderly complexes, others in independent communities, while others are housed as attached wings in skilled nursing facilities.

Finding the right facility takes research to ensure a proper match.  The list below includes several suggestions to consider if investigating this area:

  • Visit as many assisted living facilities as possible within your area to get a feel of what is available.
  • Select three or four preferred facilities and gather comprehensive information on each one.
  • Revisit your top choices unannounced.
  • Make a list of your priorities, requirements, and limitations (e.g. financial, physical, recreational, spiritual).
  • Carefully study the Residential Agreement of the preferred facilities.
  • Plan a visit around mealtime to taste the food.
  • Interact with residents and ask them how they enjoy living there.
  • Review licensing and/or inspection reports.
  • Pay attention to the cleanliness of the facility.
  • Find out all charges, fees, and optional service costs.

The cost of assisted living will vary, generally determined by floor plan and services included.  A common range is anywhere from $10,000 per year to well over $70,000 per year.  Many assisted living facilities include meal plans, but some limit the number of meals (e.g., two per day).  Subsequently, additional meals beyond the allotted amount are typically added to the resident’s charge.

Payment for assisted living is usually private, meaning the occupant absorbs the cost for the facility (just as he or she would pay for an apartment or home).  However, under some circumstances, certain long-term healthcare policies will cover this type of residence.  In addition, some facilities might offer financial assistance programs.

Ultimately, it is important to locate a facility that meets a senior’s individual needs.  Once those needs have been established, the selection should be easier to make.  There is no “one size fits all” assisted living facility.  That is why it is important to investigate as many options as possible before making a final decision.

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