Changing homes is a big decision that often comes with a slew of questions. To aid in this process, we've provided the answers to your most commonly asked assisted living queries.

    

General Assisted Living Questions

Medical Care & Safety

Daily Living

Assisted Living Costs

Financial Assistance

Touring a Community

 

General Assisted Living Questions

   

  • What services are typically offered at assisted living communities?

Though every community is different, at minimum you should expect safe, comfortable living spaces, caring staff to assist with daily tasks, three daily meals, and regular social activities. Other services that are also commonly offered include:

  • Transportation services
  • Basic medical care
  • Medication monitoring
  • Day trips
  • Structure exercise classes
  • Religious services

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  • What is the difference between assisted living and a nursing home?

Also called skilled nursing, a nursing home is a better option for seniors who need considerable, 24/7 daily care, or memory issues. Assisted living communities are best for those who are largely self-sufficient, active, and are looking to simplify their lifestyle, with a little extra help.

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  • What is the difference between assisted living and independent living?

Seniors living in independent living communities typically need very little, if any, daily assistance. They live their life taking care of the far majority of their daily tasks including cooking, bathing, cleaning, getting around, taking their medications, etc.

Those in assisted living are largely self-sufficient, but do need some daily assistance for the tasks above. Both should expect full privacy on a daily basis.

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  • How do I know assisted living is the right choice for my loved one?

It can be hard to make the decision about whether your loved one should live in an assisted living community. We recommend seriously considering what difficulties they experience on a day-to-day basis. Would living in a community make life easier for them?

Also take time to research and deeply look into all of the different options. This can be an invaluable way to determine what the best choice is for your family and your loved one.

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  • What levels of care and services should my loved one expect?

Levels of care and services vary depending on the cost of the community, and the community itself.

Typically, the more expensive the community, the more amenities and services will be offered. All communities should be 100% certified, clean, offer daily meals, a comfortable living space, friendly staff members, daily assistance, basic medical services, and social activities.

However, as the price rises you can expect additional services like day trips, larger living spaces, more meal options, additional social events, housekeeping, higher levels of medical care, transportation, concierge services, and more.

Some communities will also specifically focus on certain areas like memory care, social activities, religious preferences, etc.

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  • How do I narrow down my options and make the right choice?

It’s most important to determine what your loved one’s primary needs are. Do they want to be close to family? Engage in social activities? Get specific medical care?

Once needs are determined, compare all of the options that fit the criteria that also fits in your budget. This should help you narrow down your choices. Touring the communities should help you narrow it down even further.

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Medical Care & Safety

     

  • Do they offer emergency services?

Though all assisted living communities should have First Aid and CPR certified staff on-site at all times, most don’t have full-fledged emergency services, though they should provide 24-hour emergency ready staff.

Instead, they are trained to call the nearest emergency hospital or community for quick assistance while providing basic care until help arrives.

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  • What if my loved one has a medical emergency?

Though some higher-end communities may have emergency services on-site, the majority of communities will immediately call the closest ER for assistance.

Certified staff will be at your loved one’s side to provide basic care and first aid while waiting for additional medical professionals. Staff will also immediately call the listed emergency contact to inform them of the incident.

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  • Is there always a nurse on-staff?

It depends. Some will have a full-time nurse on-staff to oversee Certified Nurse Assistants (CNAs), aides, and nursing assistants, as well as monitor any residents needing specialized care. Other communities will instead employ on-call, visiting or part-time nurses.

Either way, the majority of day-to-day medical care responsibilities is done by CNAs, aides, nursing assistants, and other care staff. All communities should provide 24-hour certified emergency ready staff.

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  • Is there a doctor on-staff?

Usually, no. Though some higher-end community may have full-time doctor on-staff, most call doctors in only if needed. Others may have set hours that a local doctor will have on-site “office hours,” or residents will go off-site for all doctor’s visits.

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  • Is the medical team certified?

The entire medical team at any assisted living community you consider should be completely certified. Always ask to see all certifications before deciding on a community.

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  • Do they offer memory care?

Though some assisted living communities offer specialized memory care services, the majority do not. Instead, research specific memory care communities so your loved one can find the community that perfectly fit their needs.

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  • Do they offer specialized medical services?

This greatly depends on the specific community. Some do specialize in specific medical needs or have staff that focuses on those needs. However, most focus on general day-to-day medical needs.

If a resident requires specialized care, they will either visit an off-site specialist, or it may be recommended that they look into a skilled nursing or memory care community.

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  • Is medical care included in the cost?

It depends. At least some medical care like basic health monitoring and medication management, etc. is often included in the monthly costs, or as part of a monthly “care services” fee.

However, any additional medical care such as physical therapy, immunizations, emergency care services, injuries, etc. will cost additional fees.

As this can differ, do talk to each community for details on their specific policies.

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  • Is the assisted living community safe?

Any community you seriously consider should go above and beyond to prove the safety of their community. They should always provide proof of being completely certified.

Always talk to the head of security, as well as upper management to discuss what safety and security measures they employ. Ask about in-room safety measures like pull-alarms.

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  • Is the entire community wheelchair accessible?

All communities should be certified as wheelchair accessible throughout.

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Daily Living

     

  • How is the food?

No matter the community, all food should be nutritious, warm, and served three times a day. However, the quality and options will rise as the monthly community fee goes up.

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  • Can my loved one bring their pet?

In many assisted living communities, residents are welcome to bring their pet with them. Check with each community to discuss their particular pet policies.

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  • Are visitors allowed?

Of course, all family and friends are welcome to visit residents. However, due to security reasons, you will likely need to check-in at the front. There many also be specific visiting hours, so check with each community.

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  • What are the housing options?

No matter what, all communities should offer clean and comfortable housing options.

From there it can greatly vary, often depending on price. Housing options can range from a shared studio space, to two-bedroom apartments with a kitchenette, and anything in-between.

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  • Are there transportation services?

The far majority of assisted living communities will offer transportation services. However, whether they charge a fee for transportation, or what kind of transportation is offered, will vary.

Many communities will offer transportation to off-site doctor’s appointments, or other appointments. They also often offer regular shopping or day trips. However, talk to each community for specific details.

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  • What kind of activities are typically offered?

All communities will offer social activities for residents, though some communities will offer more than others. In general, expect activities like:

  • Social Hour
  • Movie Nights
  • Dances
  • Day Trips
  • Birthday Celebrations
  • Holiday Parties
  • Religious Services
  • Art Classes
  • Musical Guests

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Assisted Living Costs

    

  • How much does assisted living cost per month?

On average in the U.S., assisted living currently costs $3,628 per month, though this price can greatly depending on location, amenities, daily activities, on-site medical care and more. The average number can reach as high as $6,700 in Washington, D.C., and as low as $2,700 in Missouri.

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  • What is typically included in the monthly rate?

Every community may vary, so contact each one for specific details. However, monthly rates typically include rent, three meals per day, daily activities and events, and basic medical care and monitoring.

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  • What is typically NOT included in the monthly rate?

Though this can vary, services like cable, ER visits, additional meals, physical therapy, and other additional medical services are not usually included.

Talk to each community about their specific rates.

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  • What can we realistically afford?

By carefully compiling your loved one’s current monthly expenses, as well as any additional aid or assistance, you should be able to come up with a reasonable assisted living monthly budget.

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  • Is assisted living worth the cost?

Though the initial sticker shock of monthly assisted living fees is understandable, once you factor in all of your loved one’s current expenses including rent, bills, food, transportation, medical care, etc. many find that assisted living is comparable, if not actually cheaper.

Also, the peace-of-mind in knowing your loved one is happy and content in a safe environment is often priceless.

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  • Are there additional fees?

It wholly depends on the community, but some communities will charge extra for auxiliary medical care, physical therapy, housekeeping, additional meals, cable, day trips, transportation, meal delivery fees, etc.

Ask each community about what fees are included and which are additional.

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  • Are there upfront fees?

Many communities do require one-time upfront fees. This often acts as a deposit to reserve their spot in the community. It is typically not refundable and often costs around $1,000.

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  • Why do costs vary so widely?

Every community offers unique services. Though all communities should be 100% certified and offer stellar care and comfort, some will offer more on-site amenities, housing options, and services than others. Location can also play a large part in cost differences.

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Financial Assistance

    

  • Can I afford assisted living for my loved one?

There is almost always the perfect community in you and your loved one’s budget. Determine what your loved one’s current living expenses are and use that number to guide what you can afford.

If money still seems tight, look into the multitude of financial aid options that can help you find the perfect community in your budget.

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  • What financial aid options exist? Do they accept Medicare, Medicaid, or VA benefits?

Yes. Many financial aid options exist, including Medicare, Medicaid, VA benefits, payment plans, low income services, etc.

Talk to the community as well, as they often have additional options to help your loved one afford to live in the community of their dreams.

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  • Do communities offer payment programs or financial assistance?

Many communities do offer payment programs, financial assistance, or options to help your loved one afford the perfect community for them. Some may even negotiate to find a perfect financial solution.

We recommend talking to you top communities to see what specific options they offer.

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Touring a Community

     

  • Do I need to tour the community?

Though it’s not required, we always recommend you tour any assisted living community under serious consideration. This is the best way to ensure it’s the perfect fit for your loved one. It’s not uncommon for brochures, ads and online descriptions to be deceiving.

Experiencing the community in person not only will provide an accurate picture of the comfort, social life, staff, location, amenities, etc., it also allows you to look for major safety or cleanliness issues that are impossible to detect otherwise.

For more on tours, check out our page on evaluating assisted living communities.

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  • Should my loved one come on the tour with me?

If possible, we strongly recommend you bring your loved one on the tour with you. After all, they’re the ones that will be living there!

Even if you suspect they’ll be impartial or apathetic to the final decision, sometimes actually seeing them inside a particular community can help signify whether it truly fits as their new home.

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  • How many communities should I tour before choosing one?

Typically, people usually explore about 2–4 communities  before finding “the one”. The ability to compare multiple communities is a helpful tool for many. However, there’s really no right answer. If the first place you tour feels just right, go for it. If you feel the need to explore every assisted living community in the state before making the decision, that’s ok too.

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  • How do I schedule a tour?

Though every community may be different, typically you can set up a tour by visiting the communities website and scheduling a tour online, or calling them directly.

Make sure to ask for and choose a time when the community is active. This will help provide an accurate deception of the community.

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  • What should I expect on a tour?

Typically, tours take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. However, all tours should be tailored to your loved one’s specific needs and desires. You should never feel rushed on a tour and all questions should be happily answered.

At the start of the tour, expect to sit down and discuss exactly what you and your loved one is looking for in an assisted living community in terms of comfort, activities, finances, medical care, and more.

Then you’ll be taken around the entire community where you can expect to see residences, activities, dining halls, medical centers, etc. We also suggest staying for a meal to gauge food quality, and see the community during (what should be) an active, social time.

For more on tours, check out our page on evaluating assisted living communities.

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  • What questions should I ask?

Whatever you want! No question is a bad question when it comes to your loved one’s safety, health, and happiness. A quality community should have zero hesitation in addressing any concerns.

For a full list of questions you may want to ask, check out our full printable list here.

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  • Who should I meet at a tour?

As many staff and residents as possible. Do always meet the head of marketing, security, and nursing or medical care. However, it’s often lower level staff and residents that your loved one will be interacting with on a daily basis.

Talk to and observe the care staff, housekeepers and medical team. Are they friendly and helpful towards the residents? Also talk to current residents about how they enjoy living in the community. They can provide priceless insight into what everyday life is like.

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  • What should I look for while on a tour?

Keep an especially earnest eye out for safety or sanitation issues. Are all rooms and communities completely accommodating for seniors with mobility issues? Do you notice strange smells or stains? Do all residents appear to be well cared for?

Also, pay attention to daily activities and levels of socialization. Does it match the lifestyle of your loved one? Can you imagine them feeling at home there.

For more on tours, check out our page on evaluating assisted living communities.

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Now that you're prepared, let us help you find the perfect assisted living community near you. Enter your city or zip code in the search box below.

 

Review our other articles on assisted living:

For more resources on senior living, click here.


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