3 min read
20 May

When it comes to senior assisted living many people do not know where to begin. How much will it cost?  What can I afford?  Will my loved one be forced to move out when their personal funds run out?  Which community is the best fit for their level of activity? What happens if their health declines?  Which communities have the best quality of care? 

It is often very stressful for family members when they realize their loved one needs more care and can no longer live on their own. Many times, it occurs unexpectedly after a fall or illness. Below we look at the basics of senior living and what each housing option includes.

Senior Assisted Living Housing Options

There are 5 different housing options to consider when your loved one can no longer live on their own. This includes: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing Facility (Nursing Home), Memory Care and Adult Family Homes.

Independent living is ideal for seniors who are looking for companionship and freedom from housekeeping, laundry, transportation and preparing meals. The communities customarily have a community dining room with a wait staff to take orders. Typically, they offer a van or bus for transportation, although many residents have their own car. They also have a beauty salon and community areas such as a library, theater room, exercise room, craft area, pool and worship center. Apartments vary in sizes from studios to 3 bedroom/2 bath. This type of community often offers the option of emergency pull cords in rooms. Some may allow residents to hire their own personal caregivers or nurse if they need help. Independent living is great for seniors who are on the go and can live on their own but enjoy the community of friends and relief from the upkeep of a home or apartment.

An Assisted Living Community is housing for people that need supervision or assistance with daily living activities. The services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These would include dressing, bathing, toileting, incontinence, transferring and eating. The goal is to help your loved one remain as independent as possible while helping ensure their health, safety and well-being. Numerous amenities are available in assisted living much like independent living. They include meals, housekeeping, laundry, transportation and numerous activities.

Skilled Nursing Facilities or Nursing Homes provide rehabilitation and therapy services. These facilities are a transition between patients being at the hospital and not quite being able to go home. Nursing homes are typically for a short duration while the patient rehabilitates. Many people need skilled nursing after an illness, injury or joint replacement. They provide speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy. Most people are in nursing homes for less than 3 months, but it can be permanent as well.  Nursing homes are most often set up like a hospital where you will have less privacy- often a shared room with another patient. They have nurses on staff 24/7 for the increased care needs of the patients.

Memory Care Communities are specially designed, maintained and staffed for people who have Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. These communities have a unique design including alarms on all windows and doors for the resident's safety. Staffing is trained in specialized care for those exhibiting behaviors such as depression, aggression and confusion. The floor plans are designed to allow residents a chance to move about and explore. Room options include private, semi-private and dorm style, which are designed to prevent loneliness and isolation. There is typically a great room that serves as a large living area for residents to socialize, watch TV, exercise and craft. Many memory care communities have theaters, spas, and hair salons.

An Adult Family Home is a private home that offers a smaller, more intimate care environment. Most are nestled in a residential neighborhood. Depending on the state, adult family homes can have 5 or 6 residents. Each resident has their own bedroom and, in most instances, a private half bath. Access to common spaces is provided inside and outside. A licensed caregiver is in the home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They provide home-cooked meals and snacks, laundry, housekeeping, medication management and assistance with daily living, such as dressing, eating and showering. Adult family homes are wonderful because they provide a low staff to resident ratio and make the residents feel like they are at home.

Price Differences for Senior Assisted Living Options

  • Independent Living is the most cost effective because there is limited care that is needed. Typically, independent living ranges from $1,500-$8,000 depending on where you live and what amenities you like.
  • Assisted Living starts at $2,500-$10,000 and can increase every year and when care needs increase. According to American Seniors Housing Association in 2016 the median price for a one-bedroom assisted living apartment with a single occupant was $3,628 per month.
  • Skilled nursing facilities are more expensive than assisted living facilities because of the increase in care, but if a patient meets the requirements then Medicare can cover the costs. These range from approximately $7,000-$9,000 per month. 
  • Adult Family Homes most often have a set price and the price doesn’t typically increase as needs increase. These cost between $3,000-$8,000 per month.
  • Memory Care is the most expensive because of the low staff to resident ratio and high care needs. Memory Care communities range from $4,000-$10,000 per month.

Important Questions to Ask About Senior Assisted Living

  • What are your loved one’s social interests?
  • Can you afford this now and in the future? Will the costs increase as their care needs increase?
  • How much care does my loved one need?
  • What are some ways that I can save on costs?
  • Who can I trust to give my loved one the best care?
  • Would an Adult Family Home be best or an assisted living community?
  • What happens if the money runs out? Will they accept Medicaid?
  • What kind of cost savings can my loved one receive if he/she was a veteran?
  • Can my loved one stay in the same community as their care needs increase?
  • What kind of environment and social setting does the senior community have?

When you don’t have time to do hours and hours of research on your own and don’t know where to start, a senior placement advisor is very beneficial. Living Well - A Senior Home Referral Service, LLC provides a free service and are experts in the senior living industry. We have already done the research, we know the best communities, we know how to negotiate on your behalf. We can narrow down the choices for you and then help you to make an informed decision.

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