Q: Recently our family started researching assisted living facilities (ALF) for my parents, who are in their mid-eighties. The process seems a little overwhelming! Can you explain the different types of residences?
A: Basically, there are four models of assisted living facilities. Let’s start with independent living. Individuals and couples who live in these residences do not need any help with activities of daily living (eating, bathing, dressing, toileting, transferring and continence). As a result, they do not require any extra time from the staff over and above the basic 45 minutes to one hour provided by most assisted living facilities. Apartments are equipped with full kitchens; there are on-site staff members who provide minimal supervision and there usually are many social and recreational activities. A choice of restaurants and meal plans are often offered at an additional charge.
Traditional assisted living facilities are yet another option and currently are the most popular model in the US. Apartments range from studios to one to two bedrooms; both individuals and couples occupy these apartments, although couples will need to pay a higher fee. Meals are included, as well as a wide range of activities. Typically, residents require extra time from the staff because they need help with some or all activities of daily living. The facilities perform a medical assessment by an RN to determine how much daily support is necessary. Additional help would cost anywhere from $350 to $2000 per month over and above the base monthly rental.
For individuals with memory issues, a memory unit within a traditional ALF would be appropriate. This third model of care is the most common in this country for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Generally, individuals live in private or shared rooms in a separate area that is safe and secure. Activities thought to help memory issues such as music and art therapy are offered as well as 24-hour supervised care. Memory housing is more costly than other assisted living scenarios due to the amount of specialized care required by these individuals. Overall, the cost would be approximately $2,000 a month more than the base room charge.
Lastly, let’s explore stand-alone memory only assisted living. This model is a fairly new type of ALF, but one that is becoming more prevalent throughout the country, especially in Massachusetts. All residents are memory impaired and all activities are geared towards this population. The monthly rental cost would be at the highest level due to the amount of services provided to these residents.
All of the above models assume the apartment will be a monthly rental. In most ALF’s today, rentals are the accepted manner of payment for the apartment. However, some ALF’s still require an up-front buy-in fee and charge a smaller monthly community fee.
As you can see, there are numerous choices in finding the right assisted living facility. The key is to first determine the level of care required for the elder and then explore the options within that category.
Send questions about senior issues to email@example.com or mail to Senior Solutions, 27 Congress Street, Suite 501, Salem, MA 01970. Rick Weisberg is president of Assisted Living Nationwide, a firm that helps seniors and their families find the most appropriate assisted living facility, based on the family’s criteria. There are no fees for his services. Rick is also a realtor and is affiliated with Benoit Mizner Simon & Co. Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-513-7067.