Assisted Living Care Communities: How to Choose the Right One

  • An assisted-living community provides communal living, often with planned activities, housekeeping and laundry, transportation, meals, exercise and wellness programs, opportunities to socialize with other residents, assistance with activities of daily living, and some medical care.
  • An assisted-living community could be an apartment building, a campus-like setting, or even a large converted house. Residents generally have a lot of freedom in terms of what they do and when they do it, but they should also get plenty of support from trained caregivers.
  • Assisted living is regulated (and defined) by each state rather than by the federal government, so you can expect a wide variation in what each community offers. Make sure you know exactly what the one you’ve selected provides before the person in your care moves in.

Who’s a good candidate for an assisted-living community?

Assisted living falls somewhere between an independent living community and a skilled nursing facility in terms of the level of care provided. If the person in your care is beginning to need help with the basic activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, grooming, walking, managing medications, toileting, and eating) — or expects to need that help down the line — she may find this support at a good assisted-living community. If an older adult has a serious medical condition that requires specialized care, assisted living may not be the right choice, although some assisted-living communities do have specialized wings that provide skilled nursing orAlzheimer’s care.

How can we find a good assisted living community?

You can also consult with an expert in transitioning, such as a geriatric care manager who will be familiar with communities in your area.  Raleigh Geriatric Care Management in Raleigh, NC  

What can we expect to pay?

  • Costs and payment plans will vary, but most assisted-living communities charge a flat fee to enter and a monthly rate after that. In many, the monthly rate may increase as the person’s need for hands-on care and assistance with activities of daily living increase.
  • Some, however, have a fee structure more like that at a continuing care retirement community, where residents pay a significantly larger entrance fee but the monthly rate is set and shouldn’t go up even if their needs change.
  • Make sure you ask whether (and how much) costs will rise if care levels increase, advises Robbins, and whether the monthly rate is all-inclusive or there are additional fees for particular services.
  • Also find out how much the annual cost-of-living increase has been for the past few years, and whether they will refund your deposit if you change your mind or things don’t work out.

Do government programs cover any of the cost?

Government support for the cost of assisted living is very limited, and the great majority of residents pay for their care themselves (or with family support).

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