Factors to Consider When Matching a Senior to an Assisted Living Community
Mike McClernonAug 10th, 2021
Assisted Living Locators works with thousands of families each year, helping to match their senior to the right Assisted Living, Memory, of Independent Living community. We often get the question “What is the right community?”. As advisors, we look for basic matches, like making sure the level of care matches the potential resident’s needs. In most cities, though, there are options – sometimes many Assisted and Memory Communities can provide the level of care required. When we have choices, then, we begin to look at other important factors. These are listed and discussed below.
Most families start out by looking for a location close the where the senior currently lives. Their expectation going into the process is that the senior will remain active in the local community, going to the same shops and doctors, for example, that they currently patronize. The reality, though, is that for many seniors the trips to the local, familiar stores start to drop off after a couple of months in an Assisted or Memory community. Most seniors, too, convert to the physicians who come to the Assisted or Memory Community, at least for day-to-day care. Prepared meals eliminate the need for food shopping, and activities within the Community take the place of at least some of the local activities. Add to that the fact that seniors typically start to make friends in the Community, which means that they are generally staying in with friends and not going out on errands as much. Finally, most seniors who enter a Community are starting to become less mobile, and trips out are a little tough, at least for some people. Given all these factors, most families eventually choose Communities closest to the family most likely to visit, not the senior’s former residence.
All Communities on Long Island provide good care for basic personal care needs. In addition to care for day-to-day activities like bathing and dressing, New York State offers two higher levels of certification - Enhanced Care and Special Needs. Enhanced Care enables the AL Community to offer services like measured dose insulin injections and other care approaching that of a nursing home. Special Needs certification typically means that the Community has special training and services available for seniors living with Dementia and related conditions. So, when we think of matching a senior to the care offered in a particular Community, we look at the care required now AND the care likely to be required in 18 months. While we can never be certain what care will be required in the future, our experience with thousands of seniors, plus our understanding of typical disease and cognitive progression, enables us to at least plan for the most likely level of care required over the next 18 months or so. We can help families choose a Community that is appropriate both now and likely to offer the right level of care in the near-term future, too
While there are Communities on Long Island providing Assisted Living for around $3,500 a month, a more typical fee is $5,500 to $8,500. Medicare does not pay for care within an Assisted Living Community. It also does not pay for Memory Care in an Assisted setting, and it does not pay for residence in an Independent Community. To fund residence in one of the many Fee-for-Service Assisted/Memory/Independent Communities on Long Island and Queens, seniors and families use resources such as sale of the senior’s house or apartment, retirement savings, IRAs, and Long-Term Care insurance policies. They also utilize monthly pensions and Social Security payments to fund Assisted or Memory Care.
Overall costs at most communities have two or three components – Rent, Care, and Medication Management.
Rent pays for all the physical resources at the Community – the room or apartment, all meals, snacks, activities, cleaning, and laundry. Care pays personal care for the senior – help with showering, for example, and escorting an unsteady senior from room to room during the day.
Medication Management allows for the administration of the Community to hold on to all medications and dispense them for each resident at the right time each day. Some communities have adopted an innovative “All Inclusive” pricing model for care. The Communities following this ‘single price’ model are mainly Memory Care Communities or units, and there are a few Assisted Communities on Long Island that follow this pricing model, too. Cost for Assisted Living on Long Island ranges from $3,500 -$10,000 per month. The cost of Memory Care on Long Island is $6,500 - $12,000.
Assisted/Memory/Independent Living Communities present the resident or family with a monthly bill. The senior/family is responsible for paying the bill and managing their own finances. Typically, the Community does not accept payment directly from any source, like a Long-Term Care policy or Social Security. It is up to the family to collect this money and pay the Community each month.
The payment sources often utilized by seniors and families include:
- Social Security Retirement Payments
- Veteran’s Cash Benefits
- The Aid and Attendance Veteran’s benefit
- Long-Term Care Insurance
- Money From the Sale of a Primary Residence
- Life Settlement and Other Income Sources
In New York State, some Assisted Living Communities do accept Medicaid in payment for a portion of the costs of Care. On Long Island and Eastern Queens, about 12 Communities have received permission to offer Medicaid funded Assisted Living. These communities do not offer any services for people with consequential dementia – they accept seniors with moderate personal care needs, though. In these Medicaid funded communities, people typically share a room with another resident. They also pay for the RENT portion of the cost of care, typically by assigning their Social Security payment to the Community. The residents get back $200 of this assignment each month to pay for incidental expenses.
There are several factors that determine which community is the best match for a senior. On Long Island and Queens, Mike McClernon can help families and seniors sort through their many options. That’s the main job of a Placement Specialist for Assisted Living, in fact. Call today for a Free Consultation – 516 254 9481.