When Staying in the Home Is Not the Answer: Assisted Living Communities

Last week we looked at the benefits and costs of in-home care for your elderly loved one. But what happens when it is no longer safe for Mom or Dad to stay in their home? It may be time to discuss a move to an assisted living facility.

What Are Assisted Living Facilities?

Assisted living facilities offer a middle ground between independent living and nursing home care. They are similar to retirement communities, but they have on-staff caregivers who help with day-to-day activities such as housekeeping and medications. Residents often have their own apartment or share their space with another resident, and they receive personalized care while retaining as much of their independence as possible.

Who Lives in Assisted Living Facilities?

The number of assisted living communities has skyrocketed. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States had 30,200 residential care communities, with 835,200 total residents, in 2014. The American Senior Communities website reports that this number is expected to almost double by 2030.

The number of residents living in a facility can range from just a few to more than 300, with the most common size ranging from 25 to 120 individuals.

A typical resident is 75 years or older, female, and widowed or single. In fact, the Assisted Living Federation of America reports that assisted living communities have a 7-to-1 ratio of women to men—not surprising since women tend to outlive men. However, the average life span for men is increasing, and men are likely to enter residential care facilities in greater numbers in the coming years.

Services and Amenities

It’s good to keep in mind that services will vary according to the facility you choose. That said, the website A Place for Mom lists the basic services you can expect:

  • Daily meals
  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Health and exercise programs
  • Transportation

In addition, these facilities will usually monitor medications and provide 24-hour supervision and emergency care.

Paying for Assisted Living

According to Genworth.com, the national median cost of assisted living facilities in 2016 was $3,628. The cost will vary depending on the services your loved one receives, their living quarters and where they live, with some areas of the country more expensive than others.

Since Medicare does not generally pay for assisted living costs, residents or their families will be expected to pay the bill. Health insurance, long-term-care insurance, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income may help. I recommend you talk with a financial advisor with an expertise in eldercare to determine the strategies that can work for your family.