When seniors first show signs of needing help with medical and daily personal care, it’s time to consider moving to a community that provides what’s known as assisted living.
When you need a hand. Once capable of living alone, seniors who begin having health issues may find they need a little extra help, but don’t require intensive skilled nursing care. Some seniors at this stage may desire to age in place with in-home care, but eventually the burden of daily personal care plus upkeep of a house may become unmanageable. This is when moving to an assisted living facility makes the most sense.
Life in assisted living. Assisted living residents typically have small apartments with staff provided to help with less intensive medical and personal needs such as bathing, toileting and dressing. Residents have more privacy than in a nursing facility. Meals are prepared and served in a dining room. Housekeeping and laundry services are provided along with a full schedule of recreational and social events. Transportation to shopping, outings and medical appointments is also provided.
Costs. Assisted living communities may be standalone, or part of a campus offering continuing care, a concept in which residents start with independent living and progress through assisted living and nursing care as needs increase. The average monthly cost is $3,600, which covers the living quarters, meals and other basics. Additional monthly fees for personal care range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on the level of need.
When seniors enter a continuing care community, an upfront fee of tens of thousands of dollars will probably be required, which essentially prepays future medical care.
Medicare does not pay for the basic and personal care costs of assisted living, however it will cover some medical costs. Private long-term care insurance policies will help with costs, depending on the terms of the contract. It’s important to read the terms carefully before purchasing the policy to avoid surprises later.