Woman enjoying a patioAn assisted living residence is designed to provide elderly or disabled people with personal care services and a secure living environment that fosters maximum independence. If you do not need the 24/7 medical services of a nursing home, but need assistance with the tasks of daily life, an assisted living residence provides mid-point between a nursing home and completely independent living.

Assisted Living Is Defined by the Services Provided

The type of accommodations and number of residents vary greatly among assisted living residences, although the average residence will have 50 rooms or apartments. The distinguishing feature of assisted living is the range of services provided to preserve an older or disabled person's quality of life and independence. Assisted living services generally include daily meals in a dining room setting, personal care (dressing and bathing), laundry service, housekeeping, exercise programs, and transportation arrangements. Medical services may also be provided. Before moving into an assisted living facility, read the contract carefully to see what is included at the level of service you are contracting for.

Each State Has Its Own Regulations

Assisted living residences are licensed or certified by the state where the residence is located. Typically, this is the responsibility of the state's department of health. Regulations vary significantly. All states do not regulate the same issues, such as preventing substandard care or living conditions. Information about each state's regulations and contact information for state licensing agencies is available online from the National Center on Assisted Living and the Assisted Living Consumer Alliance, both of which are nonprofit federations of affiliate state health organizations.

Few Public Benefits Are Available to Pay for Assisted Living

Medicare does not pay for assisted living services that are not medically related. This excludes expenses like rent, meals, and assistance with daily living needs. As a general rule, state-run Medicaid programs do not pay for assisted living services either, although New York State's Home Care Services Program is an exception. However, states are beginning to see the value of assisted living facilities as an alternative to the more costly option of nursing homes; Medicaid does pay for nursing homes. Medicaid waiver programs are being used in many states as a way to pay for some assisted living services using Medicaid funds.

Right to Stay at Your Assisted Living Residence

After you have moved into your assisted living residence, a change in circumstances could affect your ability to continue living there. If your medical condition changes or you need more daily living services, for example, the facility may request that you move to a different level of care or a different facility. Whether you can be forced to do so depends on the law of the state where your residence is located.

An Elder Law Attorney Can Help

The law surrounding the law of assisted living arrangements for the elderly and disabled is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact an elder law attorney.

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