Assisted Living Facility FAQs

  • How is assisted living different from a nursing home?

    Nursing homes are for people who require round-the-clock care, while assisted living facilities are for those who need some help, but are also capable of managing some of their daily activities on their own. Nursing homes are more expensive, and may look more like a clinic or hospital rather than a home.

  • What are Activities of Daily Living or "ADLs"?

    You’ll hear about ADLs, or Activities of Daily Living, when you’re researching assisted living facilities. These are the basic tasks that we undertake each day, such as dressing, grooming, bathing, toileting, and walking. Not being able to do several of the ADLs is a sign that you or your loved one should consider moving to an assisted living facility.

  • Do I pay for assisted living on a monthly basis?

    Usually, yes. You should receive a statement each month that indicates the base fee (the rent you're paying for your space) along with a services fee, which covers the time spent by staff members helping the resident with their ADLs.

  • Are there low-cost options for assisted living facilities?

    HUD (U.S. Housing and Urban Development) has a program called Section 202 that provides supportive housing for very low-income elders, and your local agency for the elderly will have information on state and regional programs.

  • Am I allowed to keep my car at an assisted living facility?

    Probably, but you will need to talk to the facility to find out what its rules are for residential driving. There may be an additional parking fee required. If you do not drive, your facility should be able to offer rides to shopping and health care appointments.

  • Do assisted living facilities allow pets?

    They may — you will need to ask if your pet is allowed. Cats are often fine, but there may be restrictions on large dog breeds or on the number of pets that are allowed.

  • What happens if the resident’s health declines after they are in an assisted living facility?

    Many assisted living facilities include several levels of care, so if declining health means that more care is required, they can stay where they are, although the cost will increase. You can also consider hiring a private duty nurse or moving the resident to a more comprehensive care nursing home.

  • How do residents stay busy in assisted living facilities?

    A well-run assisted living facility will offer optional activities throughout the days, from exercise classes to bingo nights. The resident can choose to participate or not, as they wish. When choosing a facility, ask to see its activity schedule to get a sense of what type of offerings are available on a daily basis.

  • Is assisted living similar to living in an apartment?

    Yes, in the sense that the resident will have a private space with one or more bedrooms, a bathroom, and possibly a kitchenette. There are spaces for couples, too, who wish to live together. The resident will, however, not be responsible for house cleaning, cooking, or other tasks of daily life.

  • How can I be sure my loved one is well cared for in assisted living?

    Be a regular visitor, and get to know the staff. Pay attention to your loved one, as well, if they say anything critical of the staff, or if you see any bruises or other signs of possible elder abuse. If you have concerns, speak first to a supervisor; if that doesn’t help, consider talking to someone at your local agency for the aging. Some facilities have ombudsmen on staff who can help deal with resident issues or complaints.

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