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 Assisted Living Gaining in Popularity

Thanks to increasing longevity and healthier lifestyle habits, more and more older Americans are considering assisted living as a residential choice in their later years. Assisted living facilities (ALF) provide personal care and other services which enable residents to live as independently as possible in a more homelike setting than a nursing home.

Before choosing an assisted living facility, according to the MetLife Mature Market Institute®, it’s important to understand which services may or may not be offered and how to evaluate those services.

As a family member, you will want to assess the functional abilities of your loved ones to make sure that assisted living provides the appropriate level of care. You may decide to engage the services of a geriatric care manger to help you with your assessment. Geriatric care managers specialize in assisting older people and their families in making their long-term care arrangements. The National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers (1-520-881-8008) can provide referrals.
It is important to visit multiple facilities and to make at least one announced and unannounced visit to the facility so that you can observe the residents’ daily routine.

  1. Be sure to review the facility’s contract as part of your research. This document should provide information on what the basic fee does and does not cover, and the discharge policy. It’s a good idea to review the contract with an elder-law attorney before you sign it.
  2. Ask for the licensing or certification inspection report. Remember, licensing and certification criteria vary from state to state. Check with the local Long-Term Care Ombudsman who can be identified by your State Office on Aging and Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints about the facility or staff.

It’s also important to remember that what is covered in one facility’s fee structure may not be included in another. For example, medication management or free transportation to doctors’ appointments may not be provided.

The MetLife Market Survey of Assisted Living Costs 2004 found that the average cost of an ALF in the U.S. is $2,524 monthly or $30,288 yearly. Medicare and Medicaid typically do not cover the cost of ALFs, but most long-term care insurance policies do.

Assisted Living Gaining in Popularity is one of a series of Since You Care® guides for caregivers produced by the MetLife Mature Market Institute in cooperation with the National Alliance for Caregiving.


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