Researching and learning about assisted living can often seem overwhelming! We've provided a list of some Frequently Asked Questions to assist you in this process:
What is assisted living? What types of services are available?
The term “assisted living” can be defined in many ways and may mean something very different at each senior living community that you visit. Typically, two or three meals a day are provided, with the availability (typically for an additional fee) of personal care, housekeeping, and laundry, and other services.
Some buildings which offer assisted living provide up to an hour of care each day, and anything over that time limit requires the resident to either move out, or to hire a private aide. Other communities offer higher levels of care which are not time-limited, and may include full continence care, one and two-person assistance with transferring, full assistance with all Activities of Daily Living, and more. It’s important to discuss any service limitations with the communities you are considering. It’s also important to understand that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has regulations within which each assisted living community must operate, so even if a facility offers skilled nursing on-site, this skilled care cannot be offered in an assisted living setting.
Who lives in assisted living?
Residents in assisted living range from those who are still driving and require no assistance, but prefer to live in a community setting with all of the added amenities and community activities, to those who have found that they could benefit from assistance with tasks such as bathing, dressing, or medication management. Residents in assisted living typically range from those in their late 60’s to those who are 100 or older!
How do people pay for assisted living?
Many people are surprised to learn that Medicare/Medicaid does not cover assisted living fees. Most seniors use the proceeds from the sale of their primary residence to cover their assisted living costs, as well as other assets such as savings accounts and IRAs, or long-term care insurance policies. We would be happy to provide you with information on a variety of other financial resources, such as benefits for wartime veterans their surviving spouses, life settlements, and bridge loans through our partner organizations.
What do I have to give up when I move to assisted living?
Assisted living is designed to support a senior’s independence, rather than taking anything away! Residents live in their own apartments, and can come and go as they please. Meals are included, but residents can opt to sleep in and prepare a light breakfast in their suite if they don’t want to come to breakfast. A full calendar of activities is offered, allowing residents to pick and choose the activities that appeal to them . Some communities permit residents to bring their own pets. You’ll find that a move to assisted living allows you to keep doing what you like to do (when you like to do it), while offering more choices and options to try new things and make new friends.
Are there visiting hours? Is there a curfew?
No, when you move to assisted living, this is your home. Family and friends can visit at any time, and you can come and go as you please. We only require that residents and their visitors sign in and out, so that we can keep track of who is in the building at any given time for security reasons.
I’m nervous about making the right choice. Am I locked in to a long commitment when I choose a senior living community?
This is an excellent question and is important to ask of any community you’re considering. Typically, notice periods for residents terminating a lease can run anywhere from thirty to ninety days, so it’s important to know how much notice you need to provide in case you want to, or need to, move to another location.
What are the qualifications of the staff providing care in assisted living?
Staff providing care in assisted living can be employees of the community, or they may be sub-contracted help. Communities employing their own caregivers have more control over consistency, training, and oversight of their caregivers. Caregivers may be Certified Nursing Assistants, Home Health Aides, Personal Care Assistants, or unskilled staff, so it’s important to ask any assisted living community what their criteria are for hiring caregivers or hiring subcontractor staff.
Who licenses assisted living communities?
In Massachusetts, assisted living communities are certified by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA). This state office conducts on-site surveys at least every two years when a community is due for re-certification, but the office’s representatives may visit a community at any time to inspect records and check on residents. This oversight is important to confirm that communities are following the Massachusetts regulations and to ensure that residents are being well cared for.