Making the transition to assisted living

by the Editor, SeniorInsider | Jun 01, 2011

If you or your spouse have recently experienced more difficulty with the everyday activities of life, then it’s possible an assisted living facility could be a good option for your future senior housing needs. Residents in such facilities can obtain the support they need in showering, dressing, remembering medications, cleaning or running errands, while still remaining as independent as possible. While this is a decision many will find difficult, the transition to assisted living can be made easier when you take the time to find the perfect fit for your specific situation.

Discussing Assisted Living with Family Members


While we typically imagine the children coaxing or coercing their elderly parents into an assisted living facility, it can sometimes be equally difficult for parents who have made the decision to transition to assisted living to convince their children of the wisdom in that decision.  In fact, some people are actually more comfortable discussing death than moving to an assisted living home, and many children believe that this type of move for their parents is a sign of failure on their part. Both seniors and their family members can go through a grieving process when the decision to move out of the family home is made, so it is especially important to practice clear communication skills.

Don’t wait until a crisis has arrived to begin discussions about changing senior housing arrangements—getting it out there, on the table, is often the most difficult step. Including your children in the choice of an assisted living facility can allow them to feel less anxious about the move, so let them be involved early on. Explain to your children that a move to this type of facility will allow you to get the senior care and support you require, while remaining independent and in control of your own life.

What Assisted Living Includes


Assisted living services will vary greatly from one facility to another. Some of the “typical” amenities provided can include delivery of meals, housekeeping services, laundry service, transportation, assistance with medications, planned activities, emergency call service and round the clock medical attention. Continual observation of the senior’s health status can be included, as well as assistance in accessing outside healthcare services.

Costs Associated with an Assisted Living Facility


While the monthly costs of an assisted living facility can vary widely from state to state, the average amount is $2,968 per month, or $35,616 per year. Assisted living can be expensive and is rarely covered by medical insurance. Some facilities will charge a one-time “entrance” fee, and may tack on additional costs for meal delivery, extra transportation services or medical care such as that for dementia or Alzheimer’s patients. Some states are offering Medicaid waiver programs which can help in the costs of assisted living for the low-income individual, however, Medicare does not cover assisted living, meaning that close to 90% of assisted living costs are private pay. Remember that more expensive is not always better, so compare carefully.

How to Make the Move to Assisted Living Less Distressing


Leaving your home to move to an assisted living facility can bring many emotions, and you may feel overwhelmed about the prospect.  It is probable that most residents in an assisted living facility felt exactly the same, and it can be helpful to discuss your concerns with a close friend or relative before allowing the stress of the move to overcome you.

Many residents say the key to reducing the inevitable anxiety is to stay busy and participate in the offered activities. Make sure to read all materials about the facility before moving in, and try to meet the director and staff prior to actually moving in. Asking for a list of suggested items to bring—or not to bring—as well as a list of residence policies, can make you feel more comfortable with your decision.

Most assisted living facilities will put together custom plans that will address your specific needs, with a goal of allowing you your privacy and independence.  Of course, the different levels of service can affect the cost, so research pricing and care options carefully before making your long-range plans.

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