Assisted living is just one of many different types of long-term care that seniors can use. This care has many different uses and can be as unique as the seniors who use it. If you’re not sure about assisted living or don’t know what it includes, this guide should help you out. You can learn about the services, average costs, ways to pay and save as well as what you should ask when researching providers.
Assisted living includes many different services, but its primary focus is to provide seniors who don’t need constant supervision or intensive health care help with their daily tasks. This will look different for each person and some of the services you might find include:
Transportation services to doctor’s appointments, therapy, or errands.
Personal grooming such as getting dressed or bathing.
Meal planning, preparation, and clean-up after mealtimes.
Light housecleaning such as organizing bills/mail, dishes, dusting, and sweeping.
Mobility assistance, especially getting in and out of bed and in and out of wheelchairs.
Reminders to take medicine and do therapy as needed.
You can see that these services cover a broad range of needs and you can customize your care plan to fit your lifestyle. Many of these services can also occur in your house with help from a homemaker or home health aide. If you don’t want to move, you don’t have to.
If it is not an option for you to stay in your home then assisted living facilities offer these services and more. You can choose to move into a private house or apartment with a community center, or you can share a room. Many communities also offer a continuum of care, so if your health needs change, your care can adapt.
Saint Paul has over 20 different living facilities in the area.
To get financial assistance for assisted living in Minnesota, you have to fill out a Medical Assistance long-term care application and an MN choices questionnaire.
Facilities must provide you with a written explanation of your rights before you receive any services.
The Minnesota Department of Health is in charge of all regulations and standards for state-licensed facilities.
You are allowed access to all of your written care plans and any information on services at any facility at any time.
Cost can be a huge factor in the type of care you choose, so it’s important to get a general idea of the price. These are just averages, and the cost of care could vary based on where you live, what kind of care you need, and how often you use that care. Typically, average prices in Saint Paul are more than the national average.
In 2016, the national average for assisted living facilities was $43,539 per year. The average in the Saint Paul area were around $47,880 per year. In-home care costs for the nation came in at $45,760 for homemakers and $46,332 for home health aides. A homemaker in Saint Paul cost $57,200, and a home health aide cost $66,352 annually.
The costs in Saint Paul are significantly higher, and it’s important to plan for those prices to increase over the years. Genworth Cost of Care Survey predicts that assisted living facilities in the area could increase as much as 3% and in-home care costs could rise 1-2%. Again, these are just averages and predictions, but if you do some searching, you can find providers in your area that fit your budget and needs.
As you start your search, you will want to make sure you compare and thoroughly look into each provider or facility. It’s a good idea to have a list of questions handy, so you can learn as much as possible about the services you will get, the cost, fees, regulations, and anything else about your assisted living care.
You can use some of these questions during your search:
Do you accept Medicaid?
Do you use long-term care insurance?
Are there any programs that can financially assist me?
What are all the services included in my cost?
Are the extra services available for an additional fee?
What are the included amenities and which cost extra?
Are utilities included?
Do you have housecleaning services and what does that include?
Am I allowed to have overnight guests?
Am I allowed to have a pet?
Can I use outside service providers if necessary?
What are the rules on medication use, storage, and distribution?
Can I have a copy of the residency agreement and the provider’s consumer disclosure?
May I see a sample meal plan?
Do you have transportation services?
What are the move-in and move-out procedures?
These questions were adapted from the Assisted Living Federation of America’s Guide to Choosing An Assisted Living Community.
There are a few ways that you can make smart financial decisions with your assisted living care and save some money. The first thing you should consider is whether in-home care or facility care is better for your money.
You should base that decision on your living situation. Seniors that own their homes and don’t have to do a lot of work to maintain their houses might find it a smarter choice to use in-home care. Seniors that still make payments on their home or have to do a lot to keep it running smoothly might do better in an assisted living facility. This choice will also depend on your level of needs and how often you require assistance.
If you choose to move to a facility then getting a roommate can help lower your cost. First, check that the community allows you to have a roommate and then do a test period to see if a housing companion will work out. If after the trial period everything is going well, sign a lease together as well as a roommate agreement.
You can also ask the facility if they will operate on a sliding-scale rate. This option allows you to pay what your income can afford, but it isn’t always available at each place. Affordable housing facilities and those that are non-profit run tend to use this system more, but don’t be afraid to ask.
Low-income seniors can look to Medicaid to help cover their costs and veterans might be able to use their VA benefits. Widows of veterans should also see if their VA benefits include long-term care options. Most places usually accept long-term care insurance. Go over your policy to make sure you have this type of coverage.
If you own your house, selling it or renting it might help cover care costs. A reverse mortgage might work for seniors who don’t own their house, but you will need to meet with an HUD-certified counselor to go over the risks.
Find assisted living in Saint Paul near you.