When it is time for a family member to move to assisted living, caregivers and family members have lots of question. Here are the most common questions that caregivers have about finding assisted living.

What Exactly is an Assisted Living Community?

An assisted living facility is a community for seniors who cannot live independently. They provide mobility assistance and daily living care for bathing, dressing, toileting, grooming, and eating.

What's the Difference Between Assisted Living and a Nursing Home?

Assisted living does not provide medical care, such as treatment for specific conditions or diseases like Parkinson's disease or hospice care. The assisted living facility will assess the elder to decide what kind of care his or her needs require. Nursing homes, on the other hand, are designed to house and assist individuals who have health conditions that require constant monitoring and the availability of medical personnel.

When is it Time to Consider Assisted Living for your Parents?

An elder should make the move to assisted living if hiring in-home care is not an option. If your parent cannot perform daily living tasks like bathing and dressing, cooking and eating, then their safety is in danger. If your parent has severe mobility issues and cannot get around the house safely and on their own, they need assistance. Lastly, if your parent is constantly confused, forgetful and sometimes wanders, their safety is at risk. If any of these factors apply to your parent, they need the assistance that an assisted living facility provides.

Are Pets Allowed?

Many allow pets. Check with the assisted living facility.

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost and Who Pays the Bill?

Although the cost for assisted living varies by the facility, the national average is $2,969 per month for a one bedroom apartment with a private bath. The rate is significantly higher for seniors who require Alzheimer's or dementia care, with costs of $4,270 per month.

Residents of assisted living facilities use "private pay" to cover the costs. The way in which they pay is up to the individual. Some people use personal savings, pensions and/or social security to cover the costs. Some people also use long term care insurance. Medicaid and other federal programs do not pay for the costs of assisted living. Some states offer waivers for assisted living for special circumstances. Check with your Area Agency on Aging to find out if your state offers a waiver.

An exception to private pay for assisted living is low-income or government subsidized communities. If your parent meets certain income and asset requirements, the government will subsidize the cost of the rent.

What Happens if I Run Out of Money When Mom is Living There?

You have a few options to consider if this situation occurs. First, discuss your situation with the facility. Many times, the facility will be willing to negotiate some kind of agreement. These situations are handled on a case-by-case basis, but they may be able to reduce rent or set up a payment plan to cover past-due payments. Second, check with your state's agency on aging to find out if there is an available program that may help you. Finally, check to see if your parent has any funds that you may not have tapped into or if they qualify for low-income or government subsidized housing.

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Unfortunately, residents in assisted living facilities do not have the same protection as those in nursing homes. Although the assisted living facility is required to give a 30 day notice of discharge, the resident is not protected from involuntary discharge. Exhaust all options to prevent this from happening.

How Can Caregivers Deal with the Guilt of Moving a Parent to Assisted Living?

Guilt is a feeling that many caregivers experience when they move an elderly parent into an assisted living facility. Don't let guilt get the best of you! Always keep in mind that the move was the best option for your parent. You can still be a caregiver even when your parent moves. For example, you can make sure their apartment has personal touches. You can be a liaison between the assisted living staff and your parent. You still make sure that your parent's needs are being met. Remember that you are doing your best to make sure that your parent is receiving the best care possible.

What Can Mom or Dad Bring with Them?

Your parent can bring any of their personal items that can fit in the apartment. Your parents can bring furniture, too.

Can a Senior be Denied?

It is possible. Once the facility assesses your parent's health, they will decide if he or she is a good candidate. If your parent needs more care than assisted living provides, they will most likely refer him or her to skilled nursing, also known as a nursing home. Also, you or your parent needs to be able to pay for the cost of assisted living. If you or your parent cannot afford the costs, then the elder can be denied.

Many assisted living communities have waiting lists (usually the reputable ones), so, although your parent may not have been denied, it may be awhile before they can actually move into the community.