What is “assisted living?” What makes it different from a nursing home?

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Medicare cover assisted living facilities?

No, Medicare does not cover any of the cost of assisted living services. More information is available about programs that provide financial assistance with the cost of assisted living.

Can a person attend an adult medical day center while living in assisted living?

Yes. Assisted living residents are encouraged to remain physically and mentally active. Adult medical day services can provide meaningful activities and social opportunities for assisted living residents.

Do assisted living facilities provide respite care?

Some assisted living facilities provide respite care, that is, short-term care that allows the family or other care providers to take a break from caregiving. The individual may receive up to 30 days per year of respite care in an assisted living facility; those days may be used either continuously or intermittently. Fees for this service vary.

How do I get my parents admitted to an assisted living facility?

First, choose the facility that is right for your parents. Carefully read the Resident Agreement, the contract that lists all the services that will be provided, the fees and the responsibilities of all parties. Make sure you understand what services are provided and all of the fees that may be charged. Ask their physician to complete a physical assessment form and submit it to the assisted living facility you have chosen. Make sure the facility is licensed for the level of care your parents need. Once these steps are taken, all the documents are signed and any initial fees are paid, your parents may move in when there is a vacancy.

What happens if my loved one’s condition changes and they need more care than they did when they were admitted?

If your loved one is assessed as Level One when they are admitted to the facility, they can continue to live there when their health declines as long as their care needs are not greater than the highest level of care for which the facility is licensed. If, however, your loved one needs Level Three care but the facility is only licensed for Level Two, your loved one would need to move to an assisted living facility that is licensed at Level Three, or possibly transfer to a nursing home. In some cases, the facility may choose to apply to the state for a waiver so that your loved one could stay in the facility.

What levels of care can an assisted living facility provide?

Assisted living facilities are licensed to provide care at one of three levels. The levels correspond to the amount of care the resident needs. Level One is for residents who need a low level of assistance. Level Two represents moderate care needs, while Level Three designates a high level of care. An example of a resident at Level Three is a resident with dementia who needs help with all daily activities, and has a complex schedule of medications. Homes that are licensed for Level Two or Three may admit residents who need care at lower levels.

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

An assisted living facility is a residential program for individuals who need help with daily activities, such as personal care, mobility, medications, meal preparation or household chores, but who do not require skilled nursing care. Assisted living programs strive to create a home-like setting that promotes independence. Nursing homes are designed for people who need daily nursing care. These facilities have nursing staff available 24 hours a day, and have a range of services (social work, occupational and physical therapies, etc.) to meet the residents’ health care needs.

What is the average cost for an assisted living facility?

The cost varies from about $1,000 to $6,000 per month, depending on the facility’s physical features, size, location and the services provided.