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Common Questions About Assisted Living

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Common Questions About Assisted Living

If you are just beginning to search for assisted living for a senior loved one, you no doubt have many questions. Unless you’ve been through this process before with another family member, the choices and services can feel overwhelming.


We thought families would find it helpful if we answered some of the most commonly asked questions about assisted living.

Questions & Answers

A: Assisted living communities are often considered the best of two worlds. Residents enjoy the privacy and independence of their own apartment or suite, while still having an attentive team of caregivers nearby around the clock.


Residents of an assisted living community can receive help with the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and grooming. Medication management is another popular service most residents utilize. And housekeeping, maintenance and laundry are typically included in the monthly resident fee.


Older adults in an assisted living community often find the dining experience to be a time to socialize with friends and neighbors, while also enjoying a healthy, well-balanced meal.


Assisted living residents also benefit from a wide variety of life enrichment classes. Elmcroft Senior Living communities, for example, offer activities that nurture the body, mind and spirit. Events and programs range from exercise classes to daily devotionals, art workshops, movie nights and book clubs.

A: A variety of factors make up the monthly resident fee. In some communities, care and services are bundled in to one flat fee. Other communities base their monthly fee on the size of the resident’s apartment and the amount of care they receive.

In 2017, the national average cost for a one-bedroom assisted living apartment was $3,750 per month. This fee may be higher in cities along both coasts and in major metropolitan areas, such as New York City or Washington, D.C.

A: Families often have the misconception that an assisted living community is just a more attractive nursing home. The truth is nursing homes offer different types of care and services than you will find in an assisted living community.


In a nursing home, you typically find residents who have more complex medical conditions. They need daily assistance from a skilled nurse and/or therapist. Residents often share a room or suite with another senior.


By contrast, residents in an assisted living community need support with what are referred to as the activities of daily living (ADL). These are the tasks we all need to complete every day, such as bathing, grooming and dressing. While some assisted living communities have nurses on their care team, ADLs can typically be provided by an aide.

A:  Medicare is a program that pays for a portion of the medical expenses of seniors and some younger adults with long-term disabilities. Because assisted living is considered to be custodial care, which doesn’t require the services of a skilled health care professional, Medicare unfortunately doesn’t help with financing.
A:  The transition to an assisted living community begins by researching your local options and scheduling a time to tour each one. A personal visit that includes your older loved one is the best way to determine if an assisted living community is a good fit. 


Once you have narrowed down your choice to one community, the staff there will begin the admission process. A nurse or other skilled health care professional from the community’s staff will likely evaluate your loved one’s needs to determine what care and services will be necessary after the move.


The staff will also work with you to choose an apartment or suite. Some communities, such as Elmcroft, can even help you determine what furniture will fit in the new apartment and what might need to be given to a family member or donated to a local charity.


It’s important to know that assisted living is licensed at the state level. This means every state has its own unique requirements for admissions to an assisted living community. Some states, for example, require a chest x-ray in addition to a complete physical exam. Others do not.

A:  Families who help finance a senior’s care, may be eligible for a tax credit. But the tax laws surrounding senior care deductions are very complex. Our best advice is to seek the counsel of an accountant or tax attorney who routinely works with families in senior living communities.

If you would like to learn more on your own, two IRS publications may be helpful. Publication 502 “Medical and Dental Expenses” explains the regulations that determine which expenses meet the IRS code for deductions. Publication 503 “Child and Dependent Care Expenses” will help you walk through how the IRS evaluates if a senior you help provide for is considered to be a dependent that you can claim on your income taxes.

A: For veterans and their surviving spouses who meet the requirements, the Veteran’s Administration’s Aid & Attendance can help finance assisted living. Here’s what you should know:

1. The veteran must have served this country for a minimum of 90 days of active duty service. At least one day must have been during wartime.
2. A veteran must be at least 65 years of age or be totally and permanently disabled. Receiving Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) allows a veteran to meet the criteria in most instances.
3. The veteran and/their surviving  spouse must meet one of the following four health and well-being criteria:

  • They are bedridden
  • They live in a nursing home due to mental or physical problems
  • They are blind or nearly blind
  • They require the aid of another person to perform everyday living tasks which the VA defines as “dressing, bathing, feeding, adjusting to prosthetics, toileting, and protecting yourself from everyday hazards in a normal environment”

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