What Is Assisted Living, and How Can It Help in Retirement?

What Is Assisted Living, and How Can It Help in Retirement?

Roughly 60% of Americans will need long-term care at some point in their lives, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says. Some people might require extensive nursing home care, but some might just need a little help with everyday functions.

Assisted living facilities can give you this support while letting you maintain your independence and be part of a social community.

What Is Assisted Living?

An assisted living facility is a group home for seniors. Most residents can mostly care for themselves, but the staff is there in case someone needs them.

You usually get your own room or apartment in the facility. The staff provides housekeeping, does laundry and prepares meals. It also provides support for daily activities, such as:

  • Walking
  • Dressing and grooming
  • Feeding
  • Bathing
  • Going to the bathroom

What Other Services Are Included?

Assisted living facilities also include support for some medical treatments. They help residents schedule care with outside doctors and providers, transport them to and from appointments, track medication and schedule in-home and rehab appointments at the facility.

Assisted living facilities also strive to create a social community for their residents. They usually offer exercise classes, day trips, arts and crafts and other activities so that residents can explore their hobbies and meet other residents.

What Isn't Included?

Assisted living facilities provide some coordination for medical treatment, but they don't provide round-the-clock nursing care and supervision. Many also don't have secured exits or take steps to prevent residents with memory loss from leaving the facility.

A resident with a more serious medical condition, such as Alzheimer's, might need to go to a nursing home, which provides more medical support and supervision.

What Types of Facilities Are Available?

Assisted living facilities come in every shape and size.

Some facilities just provide assisted living services. Because they specialize in assisted living services, they can offer the most options and services. But if you ever needed more serious care, you'd have to move to another facility.

A continuing care retirement facility could be another option. Continuing care facilities offer several living situations, from independent living to assisted living to skilled nursing home care. You could shift from one to another, depending on your needs, without leaving the facility.

Whatever type of retirement community you consider, review its facilities, services, costs and visiting policies before signing anything.

Does Medicare Cover Assisted Living?

Generally, Medicare does not pay for assisted living or other types of long-term care. There are a few situations when it might — if you're going for a short-term stay for rehab after medical treatment, for example.

To defray the costs of assisted living, you could take out a long-term care insurance policy.

How Can Assisted Living Help With Retirement?

Assisted living is for people who are mostly independent but need some help with everyday tasks, and it can help people live better lives in retirement. If you have minor trouble with daily activities, it can disrupt your life and your loved ones' lives. For example, if you have trouble walking, you might feel trapped at home because you can't take yourself to the store or to see your friends. And you might not want to burden a family member with caregiving responsibilities.

An assisted living facility keeps your options open. It'll give you the help you need while letting you hold on to your independence. It also comes with a built-in social community of other retirees — something that's just as important as on-call care, as loneliness has been linked to serious health conditions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Now that you know what an assisted living facility can offer, you can weigh your options to decide which is right for your retirement. For more information about help paying for assisted living, speak with an insurance professional who specializes in long-term care insurance.

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