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Common Myths about Assisted Living
Know the Facts about Assisted Living

Assisted Living Facts

Know the facts before it's time for you or a loved one to think about assisted living.

Are you or a loved one thinking about moving into an assisted living facility? If you are, do some homework first, to make sure you pick the right setting for you.

Be better prepared to visit and choose the best facility suited for your taste.

The Myths of Assisted Living Facilities

MYTH: On-Site and Around the Clock Licensed nurses and staffing

This is a myth and it is not true!

If you want a facility that offers, 24/7 and round-the-clock staffing, ask up front, if the facility offers this service. If it does not, check to see if you're permitted to privately contract with a home health agency, if you need the services of a licensed nurse. Otherwise, assisted living, is not appropriate for you.

All assisted living facilities are not alike. Each one offers a range of services and charge different rates. Assisted living follows regulations set by the state government and each facility offers different settings and most are not required to have nurses on-site.

Some state regulations do not require assisted living facilities to provide medication management, transportation, assistance with activities of daily living, basic health services, assistance in emergencies, 24-hour staffing, however, state regulations will allow assisted living to make these available to residents.

MYTH: Assisted living equates to dependence

Safety and Independence
Safety and Independence

KNOW: They encourage independence and privacy as long as you are safe. You have several living space options with private entrances and free to furnish your apartment with your own personal items. You're in control of the living space which remains locked by you.

MYTH: All assisted living facilities are the same

An assisted living facility comes in all sizes, shapes, and features. It's a high-rise apartment building with many residents or a small home with five people.

Living units are single or double room with or without a shared bathroom or a full apartment and be private or shared. Each apartment may or may not have a kitchen or kitchenette and a private bath.

Types and Services Offered

Know the Facts about Senior Living
Know the Facts about Senior Living

Facilities are either freestanding or connected to a nursing home or hospital, making them a campus setting with independent living apartments, assisted living, and nursing facility services. The services range from basic housekeeping and assistance with activities of daily living and personal care. Activities of daily living include bathing, dressing and grooming.

While others have extensive assistance with daily activities and personal care to include help with transportation and health services. They primarily serve persons with:

  • Alzheimer's and dementia
  • Mental illness
  • Physical disabilities

MYTH: Wheelchair dependent or have urinary incontinence

Assisted living allows for wheelchairs. They do not allow those who need more than one staff member to assist them in getting in and out of the chair. Persons living with urinary incontinence can live in the ALF as long as the issue is easily managed by the resident.

MYTH: It costs too much

Pricing varies and start as low as $1,500 with few care options. Services like medication management, incontinence care, bathing, personal hygiene care add to monthly fees.

MYTH: Health insurance or Medicare pays for assisted living

Regular health insurance does not pay for assisted living, nor does Medicare, a federally funded health insurance plan for persons over 65 years of age. Medicare pays the entire cost of care for the first 20 days for patient therapy (post surgery or for rehabilitation). For the next 80 days, the patient has a co-pay of $144.50/day (2012) unless he has a Medicare supplemental policy.

KNOW: Medicare pays for highly skilled nursing care and only for a short-term stay.

MYTH: Medicaid pays for assisted living

You are eligible for financial assistance through the state Medicaid Waiver Program if you are over 65, blind or disabled and meet the state program guidelines. Medicaid pays for assisted living for persons below a certain median income level.

Know that all are not certified to meet the Medicaid Waiver regulations. Find out first if the facility is a Medicaid Waiver provider. It's a fact that all services are not the same for residents supported by the Medicaid Waiver. You're given fewer choices of living units and the extra personal care services may not apply to the Medicaid Waiver.

GET THE FACTS: Learn more about your state Medicaid Waiver Program by contacting your local Area Agency on Aging office.

MYTH: You are not allowed to drive your car when living in assisted living

If you can still operate a vehicle safely, you do not relinquish your driving rights nor do you lose your car. In fact, assisted living encourages independence, as long as the resident is safe.

  • Explore your needs.
  • Find out the facts about what facilities must and can offer.
  • Learn what kind of questions you should ask facilities before you select one for you or a loved one.
Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.