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Assisted Living – Do you know all of your options?

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A good friend recently asked me to help them find assisted living for her husband’s grandmother.

First, I had to call her and get the whole story. Had something happened? Why did she need assisted living? What was the time frame? After learning that she had fallen, was coming out of rehab. (where Assisted Living was suggested), she is partially blind, needs some help with her activities of daily living (ADLs) and it wasn’t safe for her to go back to her house to live alone, I started explaining her many assisted living options.

When most people picture assisted living, they picture a large stand-alone community. This is definitely an option. Most of these communities are very nice and offer many amenities and services.  If your loved one likes nice hotels, socializing,and eating out, this is a wonderful option! Most communities have a basic monthly rent/fee for room & board and basic services, then they charge for additional care services as needed. You can check deficiencies for these communities by asking to review their last inspection or visiting the state licensing site.

Another option for assisted living is a residential care home, sometimes known as a personal care home, board & care, adult family home, etc. These homes offer assisted living services in a residential home, thus usually a smaller caregiver to resident ratio in a smaller setting. If your loved one is most happy at home, doesn’t like or respond well to lots of stimulation and people, or needs more attention, this might be a good option. Some of these homes are licensed and some are not. Check into the licensing in your state and the local Better Business Bureau to make sure that any homes you consider are in good standing.

On a personal note, after my grandmother fell and broke her hip, I suggested we move her to a very nice assisted living community, as I wanted “the best” for her. She did not do well at the community. She did not want to go to the dining room to eat, nor did she want to do any activities, so she ended up being alone in her room all of the time.  After seeing a major decline in her, my mothers’ siblings decided to move her to a home close to my Uncle, where they brought her out of her rooms to eat, socialize and do some exercise.  She did much better in the home with a smaller environment and more one on one attention, but everyone is different!

Now back to the original story – If my friend had not told me that their grandma couldn’t go home due to the condition of the home, I would have included home care as an option. Aids can come into the home (apartment, independent living community, etc.) and offer everything from help with ADLs, to cooking, cleaning, transportation and even just companionship.

Assisted living is private pay, so the individual pays; not Medicare, Medicaid or health insurance. Most residents use social security, VA, and even long term care insurance to help cover the cost, which normally ranges from $3000 – $5000/mo. Home care is charged on an hourly basis and ranges as well with discounts as you use more hours.

So you see, there are many options when it comes to choosing assisted living for your loved one. Consider them all. What is best financially and support wise for your family? If you don’t need care all the time, is home care or an adult day care an option? Find a community and a care home and visit both. Where do you feel more comfortable? Then do your homework to make the best decision for your family.