Daily activities may get harder for seniors as they get older, and they may need some help to live comfortably. Assisted living is an option for these seniors to get the assistance they need. Finding the right community takes research, and you need to think about your future as well as the now. This article will give you some pointers on what to ask when looking at facilities, how to pay, how to save money, and what assisted living facilities offer for services.
Assisted living facilities are not necessarily medical like the nursing home, but do offer these services:
Reminders to take medicine and assistance making appointments such as physical, occupational, or speech therapy.
Assistance with personal grooming such as bathing, getting dressed, using the restroom, and other hygiene.
Preparation and serving of nutritious meals and snacks.
Transportation to appointments, grocery stores, or worship services.
Cleaning, laundry, and other housekeeping service.
Assisted living communities aren’t always in one large group home. You can live at home and enlist the services such as housekeeping and visiting health aides. There also residential neighborhoods that offer assisted living.
The larger group-style home will provide a private residence and will have shared areas such a dining center, sitting rooms, outdoor gathering areas, and a fitness center. If you want a facility for the long term, many assisted living communities provide residents continuum care with attached nursing homes. When a resident needs more medical aid, the resident will transfer to the skilled nursing home.
The California Department of Social Services’ Community Care Licensing Division enforces robust laws and also conducts inspections of assisted living communities.
You can view each assisted living’s record with the state by searching California’s Social Services website.
Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (or assisted living) in California are considered non-medical facilities but provide assistance for daily living.
In the Los Angeles Metropolitan area, assisted living care costs are higher than the national monthly average of $3,628. Los Angeles area assisted living communities average $4,000 a month. For those considering living at home, LA-area home health aide services run approximately $4,290 a month.
There are several things to consider when doing your research on assisted living facilities. Don’t let that overwhelm you. The biggest questions you need to be answered include what are you paying for in each bill, what services are extra, and how does the community handle residents’ health changes.
Here are other questions to help you with your search:
Is the consumer disclosure form available that includes a list of all services, all fees, and move-in procedures?
Is there a policy for refunds and transfers?
Do the billing, credit, and billing policies seem fair to you?
Are there different levels of care? What do the different levels cost?
Does the community have policies on medicine administration? Are residents allowed to administer their medicine?
How often are ancillary services such as therapy available?
Is there a nurse on staff?
What are the training requirements for the staff?
Are there different size apartments available?
Is transportation readily available to schedule if you need to make a last minute appointment?
Do residents have locks on their doors?
Are cable, phone, and Internet service available for each room? How does billing work?
Do residents need to purchase renters’ insurance?
Can you decorate your room?
Are there any furnishings provided?
Are pets allowed? If so, what are the fees?
Are there refrigerators and stoves in each apartment?
May residents keep food in their rooms?
Does the dining hall have set hours for meals?
Are snacks provided?
Can a loved one spend the night?
May you view a copy of the state inspection?
Assisted Living Federation of America’s Guide to Choosing an Assisted Living Community provides these questions and more for you.
Just because you want to keep your costs low does not mean you should expect less quality care. You will need to examine your financial situation to determine what is the best option for you.
Evaluate your home, all the expenses (including mortgage, utilities, and taxes), any updates you need, and maintenance. If these costs are lower than an assisted living community, you may want to stay in your home and hire services to help you with daily life. If you still have a mortgage and your home needs several updates, it may make more sense to sell and move into an assisted living community.
Having a roommate will help you save money. Some assisted living communities will allow you to have a roommate. Be sure you feel comfortable living with someone. You can also have a roommate in your home, and you can split living expenses and any services you need to hire. Be sure to set expectations up front and have a written agreement to outline responsibilities.
For those with limited resources and assets, ask the assisted living community about a sliding scale rate program. Non-profit organizations also provide low-cost housing for low-income seniors.
For seniors who qualify for Medicaid or VA assistance, these organizations will most likely pay for assisted living expenses. Long-term care insurance policies also pay for assisted living. If you have a long-term care insurance policy, be sure you understand your coverage limits and policy exclusions. You may want to sit down and discuss with your agent before you begin your assisted living search.
For those who don’t have insurance, you can sell your home and use those proceeds to pay for your care. If you want to keep your home for your spouse or other reasons, you may want to consider a reverse mortgage, which uses the equity you have in your home. Be sure you completely understand the reverse mortgage including all the fees and tax implications. We recommend discussing the specifics with a HUD-certified counselor or your financial advisor.
Find assisted living in Long Beach near you.