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  • Writer's pictureAlan D. Feller, Esq.

How Do the Elderly Afford Assisted Living?

We spend so much time dissecting the differences between home care and nursing homes that the merits of assisted living are rarely discussed. Assisted Living facilities offer medication support, in-house physician availability, transportation to medical appointments and all-day nutrition in a hotel-like setting. Residents tend to be mobile though many will use walkers. Staff and resident relationships more closely resemble hotel and guest relations rather than medical personnel and patient connections. When loved ones living independently encounter increasing difficulties handling day-to-day responsibilities then assisted living may be a preferable option.

The two factors that hover over a resident’s assisted living experience are health and cost. Assisted living facilities serve a population that is not quite well enough for independent living, but not unhealthy enough for nursing home care. There can be an expectation that an assisted living is an intermediate step on a continuum leading to nursing home care. That is not necessarily true. Assisted livings provide a quality of life with oversight that is sustainable. But decline is a fact of life and if a resident’s health begins to fail then assisted livings will not be able to support that resident.

Cost is also a reason why many assisted living stays are cut short. With monthly rents between $5,000. and $10,000. assisted living facilities require significant outlays depending on the type of facility and type of care needed. Residents with ample retirement benefits and pensions may have enough monthly income to cover these costs. Others with sufficient savings and investments coupled with various income sources including Social Security, dividends and annuities may also be able to afford this type of care.

Medicaid can also be utilized to pay for assisted living with the ALP Level Three program which has similar financial eligibility requirements to Medicaid Home Care. ALP residents must pay up to $1,488 of their income to the assisted living with Medicaid picking up the rest. Finding facilities with Medicaid ALP beds can be a challenge. New York State has a web database on ALP’s that can be searched.

Long term care insurance will also cover assisted living costs. Long term care insurance is usually obtained many years before care is anticipated and premiums can be expensive. The flexibility of this type of insurance, even with its complexity and bureaucratic red tape is a positive, especially in this current environment where Medicaid is targeted for cuts.

Planning for assisted living is a good idea. While nursing home planning grabs more people’s attention, assisted livings offer an enhanced quality of life to a loved one, take some of the burden off of a family caregiver and provide a mix of socialization and medical support. Planning may include annuitizing a pool of resources to augment monthly income to cover an assisted living rent. Selling the family home once independent living is no longer viable and using the proceeds to fund assisted living rental payments is also an option.

Keeping assisted livings in mind when a loved one ages will benefit a family in many ways. Talk to the professionals at Sloan and Feller today for more information.



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