Senior Housing Decisions
Below is a brief synopsis of some of the more common types of senior housing options available:
Independent Living Communities
Independent Living Communities, often referred to as Retirement Communities, Congregate Living or Senior Apartments, cater to seniors who are very independent and who wish to participate in recreational, social and wellness activities with other seniors. Residents do not need a lot of help with activities for daily living (such as helping with getting dressed, bathing, transferring in and out of bed, and toileting). Residents often live in separate apartments. These communities are designed for active seniors who desire the security and convenience of community living but want to maintain their independence. Medical care is not provided, and if needed, residents will have to look outside the community.
Some Independent Living Communities have senior age-requirements (usually age 55 and older). Residents typically pay privately for independent living, the cost of which is generally dependent upon the local market. However, some senior apartments are subsidized and accept Section 8 vouchers. Medicare and Medicaid do not cover payment because health care is not provided.
Home care allows seniors to remain in their own homes while receiving the assistance they need to help them remain independent. There is a wide range of home care services depending on the needs of the senior. Professionals may visit the home on an agreed schedule or live in the home to assure that the senior is safe and his or her needs are met. Home care typically involves providing assistance with activities of daily living, paying bills, making appointments and simply being there to provide companionship and emotional support.
Payment options for home care include private pay, Medicare (limited number of days), STAR+PLUS Medicaid waiver services, long-term care insurance, and VA Aid & Attendance benefits.
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted Living Facilities are designed for seniors who cannot live on their own safely but do not require the high level of care that a nursing home provides. These facilities aim to foster as much resident independence and freedom as possible in a private setting. Assisted Living Facilities are a middle ground between independent living and nursing homes. Most facilities offer 24-hour supervision and an array of support services. Licensed nursing services are often provided. Assistance with medications, activities of daily living and housekeeping are routinely provided. Meals are provided in a main dining room. Social activities, laundry, transportation and other amenities are also often included.
Although they offer limited nursing care, Assisted Living Facilities are not considered medical facilities. These facilities do not accept Medicare. They will, however, accept long-term care insurance. For veterans and their surviving spouse, VA Aid and Attendance benefits can offer significant financial assistance. Some Assisted Living Facilities accept STAR+PLUS, which is funded through Medicaid. While this option is attractive to many, due to chronic underfunding in Texas, it is common for applicants to be wait-listed.
Nursing homes provide around-the-clock skilled nursing care for seniors who require a high level of medical care and assistance. Many nursing homes provide short-term rehabilitative stays for those recovering from an injury, illness or surgery. Long-term care residents generally have greater care needs and complex medical conditions that required 24-hour skilled nursing services. Nursing home residents receive in-house medical care, rehabilitation, physical, occupational, speech and other types of therapies. Personal care services are also provided along with social services, religious services and recreational activities. Some facilities cater to those with Alzheimer’s disease, other forms of dementia, cancer, renal failure, and other special health situations.
Payment options for nursing home care include private pay, long term care insurance, Medicare (limited number of days), Medicaid, and VA Aid & Attendance.