Looking For An Assisted Living?
First, let’s talk about what an Assisted Living is...
Assisted Living is a home like environment with individual apartments and is supervised by nursing staff 24 hours a day. Privacy is provided with a call bell system that can be activated in an emergency. Meals are provided three times a day usually in a dining room setting allowing for social interaction with other seniors. There is also an activity schedule that provides daily exercises and activities and trips of interested parties to attend. Medicare does not pay for an assisted living environment. The only two sources of payment are Medicaid and private pay. Now some information that may be helpful when making a decision.
- When visiting a facility make sure it is clean
- Make sure there are no odors - Odors only tell you that people that live there are being neglected with personal care
- Make sure you are observant with staff and the way they interact with the residents, and how the residents respond
- Make sure that there are activities for your loved one to attend if interested and trips they can attend
- Make sure there is transportation for doctor appointments outside the facility - some facilities offer a service where a physician visits on a regular basis
- Most facilities have therapy departments in their buildings. They provide you with doctors orders physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy on short term basis, and the therapy gets billed through their insurance plans
- Please understand that the care that is provided is very custom to particular residents. Maybe at first you don’t need any help but the family feels much better knowing staff is present in the building in event of an emergency
- There are levels of care for each individual based on their needs and billed accordingly. Sometimes it may be only medication administration or reminders for meals. and range all the way to total care with your activities of daily living
- Make sure if your loved one has memory issues that there is some kind of system in place to keep them safe if they should wander through the doors out of the facility
- Inquire with the facility what happens if the memory issue gets more severe and now requires for safety one to one supervision throughout the day - Does the facility have a memory care unit that your loved one can be transferred into, or would they have to be transferred out to a dementia facility?
- Make sure when meeting with the Marketing department or admissions that you ask specifically after you spend down all of your resources and begin the Medicaid process that the facility will keep your loved one with Medicaid. Some facilities will kindly ask you to find a Medicaid building for your loved one to move into
- There is criteria that is put into place from the Department of Health which has regulations that would require the facility to move your loved one to a nursing home environment when their level of care is not manageable in assisted living
- The staffing is very different in assisted living facilities. For example there may be a nurse and two or three nursing assistants on each shift, less on the overnight shift.
- The aides are usually certified (at least in NJ) by the state with licenses, fingerprinting, and background checks
- Most facilities will also offer the option to stay in an assisted living environment instead of moving into a nursing home but will require a private live in aide to accommodate the increased needs of the individual
- As far as cost is concerned, sometimes it is the same cost for an assisted living facility with a 24 hour live in as it is to place your loved one into a nursing home
- If a veteran or the spouse of a veteran, there is a program called Aid and Attendance that provides financial assistance in an assisted living facility.
In closing, an assisted living environment is a place where your loved one can maintain dignity and continue with all activities of daily living as long as physically possible. It is a place where they can consider home, and a comfort to families that don’t live close enough to feel secure knowing that food is being offered, personal care needs are being met, they are being provided with the socialization to prevent depression, and knowing that if an emergency should occur there are staff to assist.