In general, the cost of assisted living in the United States must be paid from your own private funds. Medicare, Medigap, and private insurance typically do not pay for assisted living. For individuals with low incomes and limited resources, Medicaid may pay for certain health care services, medical equipment, and medications, but Medicaid generally does not pay rent, room and board in an assisted living facility. Some states have Medicaid waiver programs that cover a portion of assisted living costs, but these waivers are only available to a small number of individuals. Nevertheless, because the laws and regulations governing health care, insurance, and government benefits change frequently, you may want to explore all available resources if you need assistance paying the cost of assisted living or associated health care services. See Social Security Benefits.
Some long-term care insurance policies provide coverage for assisted living, but others do not. If you own a long-term care insurance policy, review the policy for information on assisted living coverage.Some people use reverse mortgages, annuities or life insurance to pay for assisted living. Also, some charitable organizations make funds available for assisted living residents that can no longer pay their monthly expenses. If you are concerned you may run out of money and need to rely on government assistance, becoming informed about Medicaid is a must. If you have not had a consultation with an attorney about
Medicaid Planning, this may be an issue you want to consider as well.
Assisted Living vs. Nursing Home Care
Choosing the right level of long term care can be challenging. As the aging process progresses, there can be good days and bad days. For example, an individual may be very mobile one day and unable to walk the next. The symptoms of chronic diseases and illnesses can also be more or less severe from day to day. It is not uncommon for seniors and their families to be uncertain about whether the right choice is independent living, assisted living or nursing home care.When reviewing options for assisted living, keep in mind that certain issues may result in a resident being discharged from assisted living. Examples include behavioral issues, the need for certain types of medical treatment and medication, and the overall level of care a particular individual requires. Before making a final decision on arrangements for assisted living, consult the primary care physician or other health care providers about the appropriate level of care and how any relevant health conditions may progress. Related articles: terminal illness.
Do Assisted Living Facilities Accept Pets?
Many assisted living facilities in the U.S. do not accept pets. However, some assisted living facilities offer pet friendly units for those who can live fairly independently. For example, some assisted living communities allow cats and small dogs in their single family homes or villas, but not in their apartment buildings. If you have a large dog, it will be more difficult to find assisted living. If you have a cat or small dog and are willing to pay an additional monthly pet fee, there is a greater likelihood you will find an assisted living community for you and your pet.Having your dog or cat with you can make an incredible difference in your emotional well being. If you are not motivated to get up every day, having to take care of your pet may provide a reason for you to do so. Many people become more socially isolated as they age due to a variety of factors. Having an animal companion may lift your mood and help you avoid depression.If you plan to take your pet to assisted living, try to make arrangements with a pet guardian or pet retirement home by using a pet trust, so there is someone to care for your pet if you become disabled. Even if you never need a pet caregiver, it is good to make legal arrangments with someone who is willing to provide a safety net for your pet. See our article on unwanted pets about the risks your pet faces if something happens to you and is not a part of your estate plan.If you are not able to take your pet to assisted living with you, there are organizations that bring pets to visit residents in long term care facilities as part of emotional support programs.Copyright 2020 Pennyborn.com. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This article was updated on September 20, 2019.
How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?
The cost of assisted living in the USA varies depending on factors such as location, amenities, and the amount of services the resident requires. For example, if the resident needs assistance bathing and dressing, the cost of assisted living will be higher than for someone that can perform these functions independently and only needs intermittent monitoring to ensure their safety. If the resident is suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's Disease or may otherwise need care to ensure they do not leave the facility, additional fees may apply.The cost of assisted living will also vary depending on the type of entity that provides the assisted living. Although we typically think of assisted living being provided in an institutional setting, there are some providers of assisted living that operate out of single family homes. Cost is often a critical factor in choosing an assisted living provider, but having a comfort level with the aides, health care providers, and other staff that will be involved in providing day to day care is also a key consideration in choosing an assisted living facility.The monthly cost of assisted living can be widely different from one facility to the next, even in the same zip code. To find the most competitive prices for assisted living in your area, contact local experts, advisors, social workers, and personal contacts that have a family member living in assisted living or a similar type of facility. The rate structure for the assisted living facility you select should be outlined in the facility contract or rental agreement, along with information on payment arrangements. Be sure to ask the facility representative about recent rent increases and any proposed or planned rent increases on the horizon.
When reviewing the cost of assisted living, be aware many expenses you may be accustomed to paying for a house or condo are usually included in the monthly fee for the assisted living unit. For example, you typically will not pay for real property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, home repairs, and landscaping. Also, some utility expenses, such as trash removal, may be included in your monthly rent. After taking these savings into account, assisted living may be more economical. However, always read the resident contract or lease carefully and look for fees you will be expected to pay.If you are considering moving to assisted living, ask to review their resident contract or assisted living agreement. This contract should clearly state the up-front or entrance fees, monthly rent, and any other fees or expenses you will be charged. Do not sign any contract without carefully reviewing it. You should always consult a lawyer before signing an assisted living contract. If the agreement contains hidden fees, rental increases, or is difficult to terminate, you could spend down your retirement savings more quickly than planned. If the resident is required to pay a large lump sum up front, make sure the contract states what happens to such payments in the event the resident dies, is discharged or transfers to another facility. Because long term care expenses may reduce the amount an individual may leave for a surviving spouse, heirs or charitable bequests, consult your
estate planning attorney regarding any questions that may arise.
Benefits of Assisted Living
The services and amenities available in assisted living vary by facility. Most assisted living communities offer the following services, conveniences, and amenities:
Private apartments, cottages or villas
Cooked meals, meal services, dining rooms or cafeterias
Assistance with activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, and taking medication, if necessary
Showers and baths with safety features and handicapped accessibility
No property taxes
Professionally landscaped grounds and maintenance services
Laundry, linen, and housekeeping services
Transportation arrangements and buses to shopping, groceries, and restaurants
Physician or nurse on-site
Gym, exercise room, swimming pool, and exercise classes
Computer room or assistance with computers and related equipment
Emergency call response system
Social activities, events, outings, clubs, and entertainment
Checking Out an Assisted Living Facility
Before selecting an assisted living provider, there are many steps that should be taken as part of the background research. A good starting point is to talk with your primary care physician. Your doctor may be able to provide clarification on the activities of daily living with which you need assistance. It may also helpful to talk with a social worker that can provide information on long term care options. See tips for seniors.The laws and regulations governing assisted living and nursing home providers in your state may impact the housing options available to you, the cost of such housing options, and any government assistance programs that are available. For this reason, it is a good idea to check with agencies or government offices in your state that provide resources for citizens on assisted living and nursing home care. You may contact your state's Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Aging or a similar government office for important information you need to verify basic requirements for these types of companies.Before signing a contract for assisted living or long term care, consult an attorney about any paperwork you are asked to sign. A qualified estate planning or elder law attorney can help you avoid common pitfalls when making arrangements for long term care. Finally, be sure to take any additional steps that may be necessary to properly verify the credentials of an assisted living provider. Refer to our state laws section for more information on the laws in a particular state. For information on Medicare and Medicaid benefits, a good resource is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website.
INFORMATION ON THIS SITE, INCLUDING ARTICLES, ESTATE PLANNING FORMS, AND THE ESTATE PLANNING BLOG, DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL, FINANCIAL OR TAX ADVICE. Pennyborn.com is not a law firm and is not a substitute for a lawyer. Your use of this site does not create an attorney-client relationship. Information on this site is for educational purposes only and may not be accurate, complete or up to date.
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