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Assisted Living Facilities - What you need to know

Oct 15, 2017 by Larry Morgan

As we get older, the decisions we make as far as our healthcare can become increasingly difficult and confusing. This includes choosing where to live in your older years. Many older Americans are choosing to age in place, which means they want to remain in their homes through the last stages of their lives.

However, there are times and situations where staying at home may not seem like the best option. For those who can think they can longer live in their home for whatever reason, or would like to live in some sort of facility, assisted living is one choice.

Assisted living is designed to provide residents the care they need, while still providing a sense of independence. And, many assisted living facilities are luxurious, modern, apartment-complex-type institutions that offer other amenities on top of healthcare. Who wouldn’t want to live there?

Despite the appeal and the popularity of these places, there still seems to be a vacuum of information about assisted living facilities (ALFs). 

Here are some facts about assisted living facilities, and how to know if an ALF is the right choice for you:

What's the Difference Between Assisted Living and Nursing Homes?

It’s important to differentiate between assisted living and another facility it is commonly confused with, a nursing home.

Assisted living is best for those who still have much of their independence, but need help with certain things. They are typically structured as high-end apartment complexes, so you get your own space and aren’t bothered unless you’re receiving care. Forms of care can include anything from medication management to bathing, to even running errands and attending appointments.

Nursing homes, on the other hand, provide round-the-clock care for seniors who need serious medical support. They’re more hospital-like than living in a house or apartment.

But how do you know where to draw the line between needing a nursing home versus assisted living? This is where things get complicated.

Challenges of Assisted Living Facilities

Many people who need serious care and are living at assisted living facilities actually suffer from the lack of help they receive, amongst other issues. This is because assisted living businesses are taking in residents who have absolutely no business being there. Why?

These facilities are very poorly regulated. Whereas nursing homes are required at both state and federal levels to be inspected and surveyed each year, assisted living seems to exist under the radar. Not only that, but assisted living facilities tend to be highly understaffed and lack necessary resources for their residents.

This is scary, considering assisted living is actually a growing industry. But, with this increase is also the increase in consumer complaints. As many as 55,000 complaints were filed back in 2015, which is almost 5,000 more complaints than three years prior.

What are the biggest assisted living complaints made by consumers?

The two most common complaints were delaying/ignoring calls for assistance, and the threat of eviction.

Yes, residents can get evicted from assisted living facilities. Despite their promise to “take care of you” through the last years of your life, they focus on meeting quotas and filling their apartments. This is why they take in people they aren’t prepared to care for, either – it’s often times business-drive, not compassion-driven. If you can’t pay or are requiring care that is too extensive for their institution, they can kick you out.

Finding the Care That’s Right for You

Now, that's not to say that all assisted living is corrupt – you just have to be very careful when looking at which place is right for you. T

Important specific questions to ask an assisted living facility:

  1. What kind of help do I need, and does this place provide that care?
  2. How have they been rated in terms of quality of care? Is there any evidence of recent surveys/ratings I can see?
  3. How much will my care and living expenses here cost?
  4. Can I be kicked out, and if so what for?

These questions should give you a better idea about the integrity of the assisted living places you’re looking at. You made find that assisted living does not provide the level of help you need - in that case, a nursing home may be a better, albeit more expensive choice. Or you may decide that the cost is prohibitive. Or if you just want some help once in a while or a few hours a day and would like to stay in your own home then in home care may be a better fit.

We offer a free no obligation in home assessment for seniors which can help you decide what the best type of support is for you. Before boxing everything up and leaving your home, get a free assessment of your needs and desires to see if assisted living at home is a more viable option.

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