Senior Living Senior Living Management Services Management Services Consulting Services Consulting Services
Home  >  Senior Living  >  ASSISTED LIVING  >  FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How is assisted living different than other kinds of care?
Q: What kinds of services are included?
Q: What kind of amenities can I expect?
Q: How do people usually pay for assisted living?
Q: How can I determine cost, in advance?
Q: Is there financial assistance available if I run out of money?
Q: How does an assisted living residence differ from a nursing facility?
Q: What types of health concerns are appropriate for moving into an assisted living residence?
Q: How do I know whether a nursing facility or an assisted living residence is the best for me or a loved one?
Q: How are assisted living residences regulated?
Q: Will I have to move when my health condition worsens?

Q: How is assisted living different than other kinds of care?
A: Based on a Scandinavian model for senior living, assisted living began emerging in America in the mid-1980s. It represents a type of long-term care for people who are unable to live alone or who cannot maintain an enjoyable quality of life without some assistance. Assisted living was developed to meet the personal care needs of people, in a homelike setting, without the institutional feeling that is found in most nursing facilities. (back to top)

Q: What kinds of services are included?
A: Services can vary to a great extent. State regulations usually provide some limitations on the services that can be offered and most providers have specific criteria on the kinds and amounts of services they will provide. Some assisted living residences provide an extensive array of services while others offer a more limited menu. Typical services include:

  • Housekeeping and laundry
  • Maintenance
  • Meals (including snacks and special diets)
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Transportation coordination
  • Personal care (e.g. bathing, dressing, toileting)
  • Medication administration
  • Arranging medical care
  • Orientation and behavior assistance
  • Health condition and safety monitoring
  • Round-the-clock nursing assistance or consultation (back to top)

Q: What kind of amenities can I expect?
A: Assisted living residences typically offer studio or one-bedroom apartments that include full private bathrooms and a compact kitchenette with a smaller refrigerator and microwave. In addition, each apartment should have a lockable door and individual thermostats to control room temperature. Residents generally furnish their own apartments to suit their lifestyle and taste.

Common areas in buildings generally include dining rooms, community/activity rooms, and various indoor and outdoor sitting areas for socialization and recreation. Other public spaces may include a library area, living room, outdoor courtyard and garden area, hair care salon, and in some cases, an exercise room. Buildings are typically equipped with one or more emergency call systems to enable tenants to immediately contact staff from their apartments, as well as from common areas. (back to top)

Q: How do people usually pay for assisted living?
A: Most residents pay for assisted living using their personal income and assets, sometimes including contributions from family members. Medicare does not cover the cost of living in an assisted living residence; however, some private long-term care insurance policies do include coverage for these living options.

Depending upon the state and your individual financial situation, Medicaid may cover your care. Such information is available through local aging, social and/or health services government departments. Veterans may also qualify for financial assistance through the Veteran’s Administration. Click here for Eldercare Locator. (back to top)

Q: How can I determine cost, in advance?
A: Prices vary considerably. Assisted living costs, on average, thirty to forty percent less than a nursing home. Click here to go to our cost calculator.

Much of the difference between assisted living providers has to do with how pricing structures vary by company. Some may appear very straightforward and all inclusive while others appear to be very complex with many extra fees. Several competing communities in an area can further confuse due to advertising strategies and limited-time special offers. It is therefore very important that you take care when comparing rates between residences. For example, one operator may advertise a low base rate for rent, meals, housekeeping, and activities, but then add fees for personal care services used; another may offer a single fee no matter how many services are used. Between these, there are also many other variations.

There are three general approaches to determining costs:

  • Flat- or single-rate methods are often used in smaller residences and a few larger ones as well. In such cases, all residents are charged the same all-inclusive rate regardless of service needs.
  • The service- or care-level approach is the most common fee structure. Here, three or more service levels have different prices depending on the amount and range of services that the resident needs or prefers. These service levels may be charged above a base rate that may exist for individuals with no personal care needs.
  • A service points system is another approach that involves charging a certain dollar amount for each point that is assigned to particular service needs and/or time increments. This approach usually starts with a base rate covering rent, meals, weekly housekeeping and activities and points are added for each additional service received.

It is important to get accurate pricing for all of the services you or your relative will want or need before deciding on the residence. Do not accept a low base rate only to have the residence substantially increase rates after a month or two. A low base rate may not be the rate you will pay and until you know how much you will pay, it is advisable not to make a financial commitment for an apartment. It is also important to know when and how often the residence might increase rates. (back to top)

Q: Is there financial assistance available if I run out of money?
A: The majority of states have Medicaid programs that subsidize assisted living service costs for eligible residents. State or local officials determine eligibility according to income, assets and service need criteria. The ability of a residence to utilize Medicaid waiver programs to help pay for assisted living varies from state to state. Contact your local Medicaid office for more information.

In some states, financial assistance through Medicaid is either not available or inadequate to pay for service costs. Usually the resident and/or their families will pay for the cost of care from their own financial resources. Other common financing options include long-term care insurance and Veteran’s assistance, which may reimburse the resident or the facility for the cost of assisted living. (back to top)

Q: How does an assisted living residence differ from a nursing facility?
A: Here are the main differences:

  • Assisted living residences tailor services to the specific needs and wishes of the resident and are not required to provide a specific set of services to all residents, as is true of traditional licensed nursing facilities.
  • The resident is much more involved in his or her care than is true in traditional nursing facilities. Because assisted living is a cooperative effort between the resident and the residence, the resident in assisted living is encouraged, and even expected, to do as much as he or she is capable of doing.
  • Assisted living communities are less expensive than nursing facilities because they are not required to meet many of the onerous regulations found in nursing facilities. (back to top)

Q: What types of health concerns are appropriate for moving into an assisted living residence?
A: Assisted living is designed to serve people who are no longer able to live without support, and can serve many of the same types of people who have, traditionally, been served by nursing facilities. While individual residences vary in their move-in and continued stay requirements, many can serve residents with high levels of need, whether because of severe cognitive impairments, incontinence, mobility, dietary, or other health related condition that requires ongoing monitoring. Common health conditions among assisted living residents include high blood pressure/hypertension, arthritis, coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease / dementia, depression, and diabetes. (back to top)

Q: How do I know whether a nursing facility or an assisted living residence is the best for me or a loved one?
A: When thinking about an assisted living residence or a nursing facility, here are some issues to consider:

  • Assisted living residences, will almost invariably require much more involvement from the resident and/or his or her family in determining just how much is going to be done by the residence and how much will be done by the resident. For example, an assisted living residence may do personal laundry or the resident may do the laundry; where the resident is capable of doing the laundry, they are encouraged to do so.
  • If you or your relative has extensive medical care needs that requires a nurse to be available on-site around the clock, you would also be better served by a nursing facility. For example, people who are ill, recovering from major surgery, bedridden, or are a danger to self or others. (back to top)

Q: How are assisted living residences regulated?
A: In most cases, assisted living residences are regulated by a state licensing agency. Each state has its own set of requirements for the types of providers that can use the term “assisted living” based on certain building design and service features. In other states, “assisted living” residences are licensed by a variety of other terms, such as residential care or boarding home. Licensed providers are expected to meet minimum standards in such areas as fire and life safety, cleanliness, staff qualifications and personal care services. State licensing officials ensure compliance with minimum standards through periodic on-site reviews and in response to any complaint investigations. (back to top)

Q: Will I have to move when my health condition worsens?
A: Many residents experience chronic and progressive health conditions. For some assisted living operators, a primary goal is to provide an environment for all residents to be allowed the opportunity to remain as their needs increase. Services can be negotiated to meet the changing needs of the resident. If needed, home health and hospice agencies, family members, or private care providers may provide services beyond what the residence may normally provide. The best way to plan for possible extended care needs is to learn about the availability and variety of services in your area then coordinating those services with the director of the residence. Note that state regulations may include restrictions about certain skilled nursing services and permitted health conditions. (back to top)

CCL image503.255.4647
“CCL’s marketing and community relations services helped us double our occupancy.”

Bill Torrance, Owner,
ABC Retirement Villa

QUESTIONS ABOUT CCL’S UNIQUE ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITIES?
CALL US TODAY!
800.574.2254