FAQ & Resources

FAQ & Resources

What is assisted living?

Assisted living facilities combine housing and general support services for individuals who cannot live alone but do not need skilled nursing care. Most assisted living facilities provide shelter, meals, snacks, laundry services, housekeeping, 24-hour staff availability, activities and medication administration by certified staff. Optional services may include transportation, bathing, dressing and special diets.

Some assisted living facilities will offer respite care, which is short term care while a family caregiver is tending to other needs. Examples of assisted living facilities include private homes that have been remodeled to accommodate five or six people, senior high-rise buildings with assisted units providing special services, and special wings in nursing homes or medium-sized facilities just for assisted care. The unit may be a private or shared apartment, a private room or a shared room. Areas such as the dining room and living room are shared with others.

Many assisted living facilities accept residents who are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Facilities providing a “Secured Dementia Unit” offer a secured environment for residents who are at risk of wandering or elopement, or may demonstrate behaviors that are difficult to manage. Individuals suitable for assisted living usually have experienced some functional (physical) or cognitive (memory) impairments. They may no longer be able to shop or cook independently but have no problems eating. While bathing they may need someone close to help or ensure their safety. They may be able to dress themselves but need reminders about when to dress and what to wear. They cannot run a household alone, but will do a lot for themselves if someone else runs the day-to-day business of a home. They may be alone at home the majority of the time and suffer from depression due to loneliness. Each facility will determine which applicants are appropriate for that residence.

Who lives in assisted living homes?

More than half of all residents are age 85 or older, and nearly 40 percent of residents require assistance with three or more activities of daily living. The median stay in assisted living is 22 months, and an overwhelming majority of residents are female.

What are the typical services of an assisted living community?

Assisted living communities provide more personal care than independent living retirement communities. Assisted living communities offer a less-expensive residential approach to delivering many of the same services available in skilled nursing, either by employing personal care staff or contracting with home health agencies and other outside professionals. Amenities in assisted living typically include:

  • Three meals a day served in a common dining area
  • Housekeeping services
  • Transportation provided or arranged
  • 24-hour security
  • Exercise and wellness programs
  • Personal laundry services
  • Social and recreational activities

Personal care in assisted living may include:

  • Staff available to respond to both scheduled and unscheduled needs
  • Assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, toileting and walking
  • Access to health and medical services, such as physical therapy and hospice
  • Emergency call systems for each resident’s apartment
  • Medication management
  • Care for residents with cognitive impairments

How is assisted living regulated?

In the state of Colorado, a license from the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment is required if a facility is providing care to three or more unrelated residents.

What is the cost of assisted living?

Assisted living costs vary with the residence, apartment size, and types of services needed. The basic rate may cover all services or there may be additional charges for special services. Most assisted living residences charge on a month-to-month lease arrangement, but a few require long-term arrangements. Assisted living is often less expensive than home health or nursing home care in the same geographic area. According to the 2012 Metlife Market Survey of Long Term Care Costs for Colorado, the average monthly rental rates for an assisted living community is $3,551 per month. In comparison, the average monthly rental rate for nursing care is $6,920 per month. The rental rate includes the base rent and service fees charged by the assisted living community. While 86.2% of assisted living residents today pay for long-term care from their personal financial resources, 41 states offer “home and community-based waivers” that allow low-income residents to live in assisted living. More seniors are purchasing long-term care insurance to help plan for and finance their long-term care needs.

Where do I start in finding the right fit?

The first thing to do in identifying the right fit is to tour various facilities to determine whether a small, medium or large facility is best for your loved one. Then pick a few facilities in that category and call to set up a tour. Sometimes it’s best to “pre-tour” the facilities and then bring mom and dad to the one you think is best suited to their needs. In most cases it’s best for potential residents to be a part of the selection process so they can have ownership in the choice made. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • What are the accommodations (private, shared, apartment, room)
  • What are the costs, what is included, what is additional?
  • Do you accept Medicaid?
  • Do you offer specialized care for dementia or Alzheimer’s?
  • Do you allow pets?
  • Do you allow smoking?
  • Do you accommodate special diets?
  • What personal care is provided (bathing, dressing, hair care)?
  • Is nursing care available from the facility or through an outside agency?
  • Is the unit furnished?
  • How do you handle medical or other emergencies?
  • The free guide to choosing assisted living homes contains a more detailed list of questions to ask.

*Call the local Omsbudsman at 471-7080 to confirm the facility you are considering is in good standing. Contact us for a Free Guide to choosing an Assisted Living Residence