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What is the difference between Assisted Living and a Nursing Home?

Clinical abilities, regulations, and payment source. Nursing Homes or Skilled Nursing Facilities are regulated by the Federal Government and accept Medicare and Medicaid (state funded) as payment for services. Nursing Homes offer a medical model of care with Physicians serving as Medical Directors, licensed nurses including Registered Nurses around the clock. Nursing homes also have the ability to offer intense therapy services, some offering upwards of three hours a day! Assisted Living offers long term housing. Assisted Living is regulated by the individual state, offers a social model and does not accept Medicare as a payment source for your stay. Assisted Living is designed to “assist with” activities of daily living and basic care oversight. Unlike nursing homes, Assisted Living accommodations are similar to an apartment and residents will bring their own furniture.

Who is right for Assisted Living? 

All seniors can benefit from the quality-of-life improvements that Assisted Living communities contribute to. However, those needing assistance with activities of daily living (i.e. bathing, dressing, cooking, etc.) will benefit the most. By offering ADL care assistance (rather than merely “doing for”), Assisted Living Communities can enable residents to maintain their independence longer. This support, the safety features of Assisted Living communities and the social interactions among peers all contribute to an increased quality of life.

Do we need to use a referral company or the resources of Encore Senior Advisors?

Choosing the right senior living community is essentially a real estate transaction. You could sell or buy a house without an agent, but it is risky! The short answer is no, you don’t need an advisor. The communities have trained professionals that can answer most of your questions. However, the senior living experts at Encore Senior Advisors can give you a more accurate representation of each community’s abilities, compliance history and other important variables (just like a home inspection report) before you make the final decision with confidence.

What is an entrance fee/community fee?

This is a one-time fee most communities charge. It is a “non-refundable security deposit” to cover the cost of extra repairs on the apartment and community grounds.

What is a Level of Care Fee and how do communities measure it?

The care services in Assisted Living and Memory Care must be individualized, and will vary depending on each community. The higher the care needs, the higher the higher the Level of Care fee. Communities should have an objective way of measuring and documenting the care needs to correlate to an accurate Level of Care Fee.

Are Assisted Living Costs tax deductible?

Part or all of the expenses may qualify for the medical expense deduction if it is 7.5% or more of the individual’s adjusted gross income. It is important to discuss this with the community Marketing Director or Business Office Manager to identify what kind of supporting documentation is available during tax season.

Can residents have overnight visitors?

Generally, yes in Independent Living and Assisted Living as long as the visitor does not require care or participate in the care needs of any resident. However, each community’s policy is different. This is generally not an option for Memory Care unless it is for compassionate reasons.

Can residents leave overnight?

Yes, as long as the community leadership is aware and either the resident (or an authorized person) informs the administration and signs out. If long term care insurance is the payor source, expect to see limitations on how many days out of the community are authorized.

What is respite or respite care?

A respite stay, or respite care is a short term stay, generally in an apartment that is already furnished. This is a great option for families with caregiver responsibilities to take a break or vacation!

Do I have to accept the meal plan?

Independent Living homes contain kitchenettes and, in some cases, full kitchens so you do not have to accept the meal plan. Having at least a partial meal plan is a great way to ensure a good diet. Dining rooms also offer a great opportunity to socialize with neighbors. Assisted Living and Memory Care communities are required to offer meals and these apartments do not have full kitchens (or none). It is important to consider a meal plan when meeting with the facilities marketing director.

How do senior living communities manage emergencies?

Each community is required to have an Emergency Preparedness and disaster plan that shall be reviewed and approved by the locality. All residents (and family members of Memory Care residents) should receive a summary of this plan upon move-in, and at least annually.

What kind of visitation is allowed due to COVID-19 restrictions?

Communities should get the appropriate guidance from the local health departments and/or CDC. Variables such the local county’s positivity rate and the percentage of fully vaccinated residents in the community are considered. If these variables are concerning, a community may be recommended to initiate visitation restrictions. We advise all our clients to be in full compliance with the communities temporary COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

Are electric wheelchairs and scooters accepted?

Not all facilities accept powered mobility devices. Independent Living facilities are more likely and Memory care almost never allows for powered mobility devices. Considerations such as space and ability to operate are paramount. Some communities may require a safety assessment or even liability insurance on the electric scooter! This is an excellent subject to discuss with your Encore Senior Advisor.

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