Posted December 11, 2006

Assisted living is designed for those who need help with one or more activities of daily living.  Those are usually defined as bathing, dressing, eating, transferring, and taking medications.   

Care is provided by the employees of the community (or outsourced) but not hired by the family. 

The buildings themselves are usually much smaller than a typical independent living building and are more home like and less apartment building like.  They suites may be private or shared and usually contain a kitchenette with no stove, as 3 meals a day are included in the cost.  Having no stove can also be safer as many residents have some memory impairment and have maybe in the past left a stove on at home.

In Illinois, assisted living is regulated by the Department of Public Health.

Nurses – here is where it gets tricky!  Nurses are on staff, but some are M-F 9-5, some are 12 hours a day and on call for 24 and some are 24 hours a day.  Generally, the more hours a day a nurse is on staff, the more expensive the assisted living will be.

Pricing can be $2,500 – $6,000+ a month.  Some communities will bundle or package pricing and some do it a la carte or by a point system.  Factors that make up the cost include location of the community, size of suite, location of suite within the community, shared or unshared suite and level of care needed.

Assisted living is not for everyone, but I believe that there are a lot of people in nursing homes who could live in assisted living and would thrive.  Many times I get calls from families who think that their parent needs a nursing home because they have never been educated as to what assisted living is.  Many seniors would prefer to receive care in a home like facility than an institutional one (traditional nursing home model.) And in many cases the cost is less than private pay nursing. 

The assisted living community in cooperation with the potential resident and their doctor must do an assessment.   Also, keep in mind that many communities will let you bring services in such as therapy or hospice so that the resident can live there as long as possible.  Many never end up going to a nursing home at all.

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