Assisted Living Retirement Communities

Living in a Care Facility offering Assistance

Making the decision to place a loved one in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) can be overwhelming. You probably may have already hired a private duty home health aide.   Perhaps you pitched in to help mom or dad with daily responsibilities.   If you find yourself concerned more often than usual for the well being of an aging parent living alone, it may be an appropriate time to consider a change in senior living.

If you are a caregiver and can answer “yes” to the below questions, perhaps it is time to consider Assisted Living.

When Mom or Dad Call do you get stressed out?

Are you concerned about your parent’s health?

Noticed a decline in Mom’s or Dad’s short term memory?

Are items misplaced around the house?

Does Mom/Dad lack socialization?

Are Mom/Dad stable on their feet? Are they at risk for a fall?

Does Mom/Dad frequent the hospital due to a health care setback?

Unsure about how assisted living works? Call today and speak with a Care Navigator to learn more of how we can help with Free Placement Assistance 888-776-1311!

Options for senior housing with assistance can be found in home settings from group homes in residential communities, assisted living facilities (ALF), skilled nursing rehabilitation centers (SNF), nursing homes or continued care retirement communities (CCRC). Before deciding which care facility or senior community is the best living environment for your loved one to thrive, consumers need to be aware of available options and programs offered. Some senior living communities have various levels of care where monthly price varies based on the amount of care needed while others may quote you an all inclusive monthly rate. Silver Census encourages you to research available care options in your area. Take the time to visit neighboring assisted living communities and explore the differences based on you or a loved one’s needs. Here are a few frequently asked questions about options that you may find helpful.

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Assisted Living Care Options

Here are a few frequently questions on Assisted Living Care that you may find helpful:

Veterans /Spouse in need of Assisted Living Care

What are the maximum Benefit Amounts allowed for Veterans while living in an Assisted Living Care Facility?

  • Surviving Spouse: $1,056.00
  • Veteran: $1,644.00
  • Spouse in care with Veteran at home: $1,291.00
  • Veteran in care Spouse at home: $1,949.00
  • Veterans only 1 in care: $1,949.00
  • Veterans in care: $2,539.00

Do all nursing homes, Assisted Living Care Facilities (ALFs) or home health care agencies accept VA benefits?
Yes, since the benefit is paid directly to the Veteran or spouse, home care assistance while a senior lives in their own home or at an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) is considered private pay. Home health care services are paid privately from funds received through a recipient’s benefits. Keep in mind that should a senior be eligible for home health care services through Medicare, some restrictions do apply.

Preparing for a Move Into a Retirement Community for Assistance

Why do I need to give copies of legal documents to Assisted Living Facility (ALF) I am considering?

I had to do the same thing before moving my mother into a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility.

If legal documents are misplaced in case of a decline of health or emergency, these important documents need to be readily available. Also by disclosing to the staff of a facility or community the name of a health care surrogate, this individual will be the only individual beside the resident as to which confidential information will be discussed with per HIPPA regulations.

Can I bring personal items to either an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) or skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility (SNF) such as jewelry, cash or other expensive items?

You have the right to bring to any senior care facility your personal items. Most senior facilities will discourage you from having cash or other expensive items as they will not be responsible for your property. Be aware you might be required to sign a waiver regarding this before moving into a facility.

Can I be in control of my own medications or any other over-the- counter medications while staying at an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

If your physician states you are capable of monitoring your medication independently and the facility staff is aware of this request, this should not be a problem.

How does HIPPA protect me?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) offers protections to all health care recipients within the United States. As practiced in all medical settings such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, etc none of your medical information is to be discussed within the hearing range of another individual unless they are staff and information exchanged is required for them to know during the course of your stay/treatment. Staff members works with physicians and family to be sure you get the best care; therefore you will be required to sign a release stating as to whom your medical information can be shared with during a stay.

Why do I need to give confidential financial information to the ALF/SNF?

They want to be sure you can afford to make the monthly rent payment initially and then be able to stay with them for an amount of time without the danger of running out of funds. Also, this will help them to make you aware of financial help available if you are in need.

Should I consider getting rental insurance to cover my possessions while living at an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

It may be wise to consider rental insurance to cover possessions at an Assisted Living Facility as the facility’s insurance will not cover your personal possessions if a natural disaster occurs or if theft is involved.

What is the ratio of staff to residents?

State requirements vary as to the ratios that are considered acceptable. It is best to ask this question during a tour.

Is a telephone line included in the monthly rental at an Assisted Living Facility?

Telephone service may or may not be included. In most senior communities, telephone service is included however there are several communities which the resident will be asked to pay privately.

Do Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) use only LPNs and RNs for the daily care of residents?

Some Assisted Living Facilities have visiting, house call physicians that make daily visits to facilities. This type of services may be covered by a resident’s insurance. Daily care by a facility staff member may be provided by a Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or a home health aide.

Are background checks done on all employees in an assisted living community?

It is important to ask if all employees are required to complete a background check. Some states mandate that all employees have a background screening completed.

Can I bring my own furniture and rearrange the room however I want in assisted living?

Most assisted living facilities are sensitive to the needs of future residents. Don’t be shy to ask for special favors if possible to make the transition accommodating to meet your needs.

Are there private rooms offered in Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs)?

Generally facilities offer private and semi-private accommodations. Besides a private apartment, there are some beautiful split rooms that are divided by a partisan that are rather affordable and allow residents to have a roommate. Be sure to ask if sharing an apartment is an option at teh community.

What safety measures are there in place at an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)? Is there security either a security guard or security system?

This is another great question to clarify during your tour. Generally speaking, emergency response systems whether wireless or pull cord may be included in the monthly rental rate.

Are doors generally locked or secured at night at an Assisted Living?

It is important to inquire about the level of security at a community. Be sure to ask if all doors to the outside are secured. Residents should have the ability to lock their apartment door if in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) however this can differ between facilities so be sure to ask.

Can I have a telephone in my room or apartment with a private line or does the phone line have to go through the switchboard which is only open for calls when staffed?

Generally speaking, Assisted Living Facilities are out to make the transition of care the most accommodating experience to future residents and their family. Most communities allow residents to have their own private telephone line at the expense of the resident.

Is television available in my apartment or room in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

For the most part, a resident can bring their own television to a facility. Most facilities have in common areas such as a family room a large television for residents to share and enjoy.

How much storage space is available in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

Every facility has different storage options. Some Assisted Living Facilities have separate, air-conditioned storage space available outside a resident’s apartment. Be sure to inquire whether this storage space is included in the monthly rental fee or an additional expense. It is also wise to bring a measuring tape to measure the room to see if your belongings will fit.

How is personal mail delivered in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

Mail service varies depending upon the facility.

Can I bring my pet to an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

Pet policy varies among facilities. Some communities allow small pets less than 50lbs as long as you are able to take care of them and their shots are up-to-date.

Is cable television generally included at a retirement community?

Whether assisted living or independent living, most senior retirement communities include cable television for residents at no additional expense.

What services should I be aware of before touring a senior living retirement community that is generally considered additional expenses?

For the most part, additional expenses in retirement communities may vary. Residents can expect to have additional costs for community sponsored trips, guest room accommodations for visiting family or friends, beauty salon services, small grocery items, reserved parking or covered parking. Assisted living services arranged in a resident’s apartment such as a private duty home health aide may need to be factored as an additional expense as well.

Daily Living at an Assisted Living Facility

Can an employee of an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) or nursing home help me write my checks, pay my bills and reconcile my bank accounts?

Currently, there is no law against assisting seniors with their personal bookkeeping however, it does border on impropriety. Concerns may be raised for the resident, the employee, family and the facility. It is recommended that you or your family hire a company specializing in this field that is licensed and insured.

Can I cook my own food in an Assisted Living Facility or bring my own groceries?

Some facilities may have small kitchens or kitchenettes in apartments to accommodate meals. Keep in mind most assisted living facilities monthly rates may already include two meals per day so it may not be wise to prepare your own meals if you are on a fixed income.

Can I come and go in an Assisted Living Facility as I please?

It is recommended that you ask the individual care facility of their sign out policy. Generally, if a resident leaves an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) to dine with family, a family member must acknowledge that they are responsible for the health and well being of a senior resident during the time away from the facility.

How do I maintain privacy in an Assisted Living Facility?

Not only should your privacy be respected but you should be treated with dignity at all times. For example, never should anyone enter a resident’s room without knocking and announcing themselves.

Does the ALF/SNF allow overnight visitors in my room or do they have another room set aside for overnight visitors?

Some assisted living facilities do allow guest.  Other facilities have a guest room which families can rent out daily.  This question is best to ask the facility directly upon touring.   Most of the times family members stay at a near by hotel during a visit.

Do Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) have an age requirement?

It is best to ask this question direct to the facility during your tour.

Can I keep my car and be a resident of an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

It is best to ask the facility during your tour if they allow residents to operate a vehicle while living under their care. Sometimes, a husband and wife couple may move into an assisted living facility together primarily for the care of one particular spouse while the care giving spouse is relatively independent capable of driving.

Can friends and family come visit me anytime as a resident in Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

It is best to ask the facility during your tour. Most Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) have no restriction on visitors however ask that common courtesy is observed.

Does my apartment door lock in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

Most residents in an Assisted Living Facilities have the ability to lock their door. Be sure to inquire about the facility’s guidelines during your tour.

Do staff members at Assisted Living Facilities have access to resident’s rooms or apartments with a key?

It is important to know that if you are able to lock your room, there is a master key available to staff. The sole purpose of entering a resident’s room or apartment is in the event of an emergency or to check on you if needed.

Why do visitors have to sign in and out when they enter or leave the premise of an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

If there is an emergency such as a fire drill, evacuation, etc. the staff of an Assisted Living Facility is responsible for accounting for all residents at the time of the emergency. Therefore accountability for all residents at all times is critical in providing maximum care.

Can friends join me for meals in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

Whether a visitor can join you for a meal depends on the facility and their dining policy. Rest assured most Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) are sensitive to the needs of their residents and for the most part try to accommodate resident’s requests.

Can I or my family/friends arrange special events?

Special events such as private dining for holidays and birthdays are certainly available if coordinated with the appropriate staff member. Be sure to ask about extended services such as this.

Am I responsible for rent at my Assisted Living Community if I am hospitalized, in rehab or away visiting family?

When you are living in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF), the facility becomes your home. Therefore, just like with your own home, whether you are there or not you are still required to make the mortgage or rent payment every month.

What do I do if I have a problem with a staff member at an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

Report any incidents immediately to management. They should take immediate action to investigate your complaint and get back to you with a resolution. If you do not feel this has occurred, you always have the right to file a report with the State’s agency charged with protecting the Rights of Elders.

If I report a staff member at an Assisted Living Facility (ALF) I am fearful they may come after me. What rights do I have?

This should NEVER happen. If it does, do not stay quiet about it! Report immediately to management or contact the appropriate State Agency regarding the complaint.

Can doctors or medical professional visit the facilities or do I always have to go to their offices?

Some physicians do visit their patients who reside in an Assisted Living Facility. It depends on your doctor and you should discuss with him/her.

Should I be concerned with interacting with other people at a care facility?

No. Just remember you are making new friends and they were once new to the facility like you.

What type of meals can residents expect to find in an Assisted Living Facility (ALF)?

Generally speaking, most community meals are overseen by a registered dietitian. The dietitian monitors the nutritional values of the food prepared such as serving adequate protein, starch, vegetables, salads and juices. These dietary guidelines are state regulated. Make sure you request a sample of a menu to see typical meal selection available.

What watch dog programs are available for consumers to regulate nursing home or assisted living facility complaints?

Ombudsmen are appointed by the state to represent the interests of the public by investigating and addressing complaints reported by individual citizens. Should a resident have a complaint such as treatment, not getting medication timely, cleanliness of an apartment or perhaps food quality, the resident is given a toll free number to report a complaint. Residents may phone directly if capable or some times requests a staff member at a nurse’s station to phone on behalf of a resident. Usually, two Ombudsmen come together to investigate a complaint where one may review the situation and the other Ombudsman makes recommendations to the Director of Nursing or Executive Director. For an example, let say a resident falls out of bed at 3am and had used the emergency response device and no one came to help the resident. Any type of complaint about service or safety issues such as this example is the main concerns and function of Ombudsmen.

Can I bring a car while living at an Assisted Living Facility?

Most retirement communities offer free parking for tenants. Both a family member and a staff member will access the physical and mental stability of a resident and decide whether or not she/he is appropriate to drive.

Can my pet move in with me to an Assisted Living Community?

Most care communities are pet friendly. There may or may not be a one time none refundable pet fee between $250 and deposit up to $500. The resident must be capable of picking up after his/her dog or clean out the cat litter.

Is there a weight restriction for my pet to live with me in a Care Facility?

There is usually a 25lbs or less maximum for a pet requirement for a senior community.

Are scooters allowed in Assisted Living?

Some communities do allow residents to utilize scooters however most communities encourages residents to walk rather than using a scooter. It is mandatory that a resident has the appropriate amount of insurance should an accident with a scooter occur (i.e. a resident bumping into another resident) and it must be physically placed within the physical confined place of the apartment and a dedicated area for solely for scooters will be provided by the community.

Do most senior retirement communities offer Happy Hour?

Most communities offer a daily happy hour between the hours of 3:30pm and 5:00pm at which time soft drinks and wine are provided at no charge. Should a resident prefer hard liquor he or she must provide the liquor accordingly. Most senior communities will house the liquor for the resident under lock and key at no additional charge.

How do residents go weekly grocery shopping at senior retirement communities?

Part of the monthly rental fee includes generally 3 to 5 trips to the local grocery store. These scheduled outings are provided on a community bus has no extra charge.

How often does housekeeping clean a resident’s apartment at a senior retirement community?

Generally speaking, apartments are cleaned once a week. If a resident request an additional cleaning per week, he or she may be charged any where from $20.00 to $30.00 more.

Are snacks included in an Assisted Living Facility?

In Assisted Living Facilities, snacks are required to be made available throughout the day. Snacks may consist of fresh fruit, crackers, jello, ice cream, cheese platters or cookies.

Paying for Assisted Living During Retirement

Does Medicare pay for Assisted Living Care?

Medicare does NOT pay for assisted living.  This is greatly misunderstood by family members and the elderly alike.  Obtaining care for assisted living is privately paid by a resident or family member for the most part.

Can a Veteran get help from the Veteran Administration for paying for assisted living care?

The VA has a non combative pension benefit called VA Aid and Attendance.  Individuals such as Veterans and/or their spouses may qualify should they qualify for the need of care and financially.

Does Insurance Pay for Assisted Living?

Only a long term insurance policy pays for assisted living or long term care.  If you or a family member has a long term care policy, be sure to find the long term insurance policy and read the terms of the policy.

How often will a resident in an Assisted Living Facility be reassessed?

Generally speaking for the most part senior living communities offering assistance evaluate residents every month. If you are concerned about the care level changing be sure to discuss this with the community especially if you are on a tight budget.

Safeguards at an Assisted Living Facility

Can my attorney visit me in an assisted living facility?

Yes, residents have the right to have anyone visit them at an assisted living facility. If you require privacy to discuss personal issues, speak with management to arrange a quiet place for your visit.

Who is required to be on property at an Assisted Living Facility after hours?

Depending upon the number of residents in a community, there are usually two Certified Nurse Assistant (CNAs) required to be able to respond to the residents’ needs or emergency. A Registered Nurse (RN) is not required.

Should a resident at an Assisted Living Community not feel well during the course of a day, what services are available?

Most senior living communities have a Wellness Center on property. There is usually a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practicing Nurse (LPN) available to respond to the residents’ health care needs. At any time during the course of the day a Registered Nurse (RN) or Licensed Practicing Nurse (LPN) can immediately access the health care need of situation should a resident have discomfort. Signs and symptoms such as chest pains will warrant 911 to be called, tear wounds can be treated immediately, general malaise such as bad headache or severe fatigue allows a nurse to take vitals immediately. Most wellness clinics are open daily from 8am to 6pm. Visiting house call physicians often visit senior communities daily and can access a resident’s immediate needs.

If an emergency response device is pulled in a senior community, who response to the distress call?

All distress calls from an emergency response cord comes to a centrally located alert center near the concierge desk. After hours such as after 6pm, the distress signals will go immediately to security on property to monitor.

Are Senior Communities such as Assisted Living Facilities mandated to have a plan for natural disasters such as a hurricane or earthquake?

Depending upon the physical location of the community such as whether or not the community is in an evacuation zone, the community is reasonably responsible for vacating the residents to a secured area at the community’s own expense. In the State of Florida, most communities due to the threat of hurricane are made of CBS construction. Should a natural disaster occur, safety plans are implemented and residents may be transferred temporarily to other properties that are perhaps out of harm’s way.

Who monitors cleanliness of a senior retirement community?

Usually the Director of Housekeeping is in charge of maintaining all common area and apartments.

In an Active Retirement Community with assistance, who generally has access to a resident’s apartment?

Upon entering a retirement community, whether you move into assisted living or independent living, all residents are asked to sign a waiver as to whether the housekeeper has permission to enter the apartment without the owner present. This is very similar to a hotel’s policy.

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