Reporter Rebecca Jarvis covered these major issues:
- Getting the facility’s ratings. There is no Zagat rating or “stars” system for assisted living. The state in which the assisted living is located should have a record of licensing violations and deficiencies, and providers are obligated to share this information with consumers.
- Calculating the cost of care. The average monthly rate for a one-bedroom apartment with basic care services is around $3000, but that rate jumps to $4000 or more if the individual has dementia or other health needs, thereby needing more care and assistance.
- Room for negotiation. Jarvis says that a consumer who knows the right questions to ask may be able to negotiate some of the monthly costs, since many communities were “overbuilt” like much of the housing market.
- Paying the bill with something other than Medicare. Medicare is not an acceptable form of payment for assisted living. Some assisted living communities do accept Medicaid, but on a very limited basis. Most communities are private pay/out-of-pocket, so you will need to access alternatives like VA benefits, long term care insurance, and other individualized options.
- Who works there? Find out what the staff to resident ratio is, and what kind of training the staff receives, both prior to hire and during the course of employment. Also, it’s important to know how many nurses and medical staff are on duty at any given time, and what kind of background checks are done on each employee and volunteer.
Read more about assisted living, or search for facilities in your area, here.