Assisted Living

What is Assisted Living?

Assisted Living (Residential Care For The Elderly/RCFE in some states) offers help with non-medical aspects of daily activities in an atmosphere of separate, private living units. It can be likened to Congregate living for residents less able to function independently in one or some of the aspects of daily living.

RCFEs may also be known as Retirement Homes and Board and Care Homes. These facilities provide services to persons 60 and over, and to those under 60 with compatible needs.

In addition to providing meals, transportation for medical appointments, activities, and pleasure trips, Assisted Living may provide:

  • Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom, and walking
  • Housekeeping services
  • Round the clock security
  • Medication management
  • Social and recreational activities
  • Emergency call systems in each resident's living space
  • Access to health and medical services
  • Exercise and wellness programs
  • Laundry services
  • Staff available to help with scheduled needs, as well as unexpected issues

Some residences offer services on an "a la carte" basis, creating opportunities for greater control over one's life. Choice availability offers living arrangements with flexible and shared risk or responsibility. Assisted living should provide opportunities to be as independent as residents are capable of or willing to be.

This is a lifestyle for those who are mildly, cognitively impaired, while physically capable; or those who are mentally competent but have motor or balance difficulties.

Medicare will not cover costs related to Assisted Living, nor will it cover similar services contracted to serve a patient in their own home, however in some states Medicaid or other funding sources are available to help pay part of the cost for care.

For a "Congregate" Community to offer assistance with aspects of daily living, most states require licensing. Check with your state licensing office to find if Assisted Living is licensed separately, the agency responsible for licensing, and the criteria used.

Sometimes, Care Communities contract with licensed 3rd party companies that enable them to offer assisted living services within a congregate setting. Some of these authorized providers are also available for home hire.

What services can be offered by 3rd parties in a group healthcare setting may be regulated by state licensing.

Signs that it might be time for Assisted Living

Watch for the following signs in your loved one - this may indicate that there is a need for further evaluation and consideration of Assisted Living:

  • empty refrigerator, or one filled with spoiled food;
  • loss of weight;
  • same clothes worn multiple days in a row;
  • evidence that the person is not bathing or otherwise caring for personal hygiene;
  • Inappropriate dressing for the weather;
  • noticeable falling-off in usual housekeeping habits, ie. un-raked leaves in the yard, untidy lawn or garden;
  • forgetting to take medications (or taking them more than once);
  • forgetting to eat; forgetting appointments;
  • appearing to be unusually depressed or unusually cheerful;
  • bruises caused by falling or bumping into objects.

Assisted Living Communities & Retirement Planning

Your retirement planning should be based on understanding the options associated with Assisted Living. As part of a retirement plan, these options combine housing, support services, and health care, as needed. Assisted living is a retirement service for individuals who require assistance with everyday activities such as meals, medication management or assistance, bathing, dressing, and transportation. Some residents may have memory disorders, including Alzheimer's, or they may need help with mobility, incontinence, or other challenges of senior life. Residents are assessed to determine the level of service they may need. These retirement services generally include 24/7 supervision, three meals a day, housekeeping, transportation, minor medical attention, personal care assistance, security and emergency call, exercise programs, social and educational activities. In addition, some Assisted Living communities may provide: gardens, libraries, and chapels.

Assisted Living communities are operated by both profit and non-profit organizations. Pricing can range from $1,000 to over $7,000 per month based on your location. There may be extra fees for special services.