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Assisted Living vs. Other Senior Living

What Is the Difference Between Assisted Living vs. Independent Living?

For older adults with health or mobility issues requiring more support, assisted living residences offer services such as medication management and assistance with personal activities such as toileting, grooming and dressing. Services typically include meals, housekeeping, laundry and transportation. Activities that foster mental and physical stimulation and social engagement are a major focus in assisted living. Independent living is for seniors who wish to leave behind home and yard maintenance and who are seeking a community of others their age.

What Is the Difference Between Assisted Living vs. Memory Care?

While people who are otherwise independent but need help with daily activities is the focus of assisted living, memory care is a type of support for individuals diagnosed with mild or moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Some memory care residents can live to the fullest with some help, such as the kind provided in an assisted living environment, while others may need specialized care that is best provided in a setting especially for those with cognitive skills.

Assisted living provides supportive care based on individual needs, with a customized care plan to provide an array of services including: medication management, assistance with personal care and daily living, nutritious meal service and an enriching activity program.

Memory care for those living with dementia involves more focused assistance on memory, judgment, processing and communication skills. Memory care settings will also have specially trained staff to ensure cognitive stimulation and a safe environment for residents who can easily get lost.

What Is the Difference Between Assisted Living vs. Home Care

Home care may be a good choice for seniors who need some daily assistance but still feel they have a good quality of life. Assisted living may be the better option when someone requires more than four or five hours of home care a day. The biggest difference between the two types of care is cost, so depending on where you or your loved one falls in terms of needs might be where you can make your decision.

How Much Does Assisted Living Cost?

The cost of assisted living can be a hurdle for many families. Each state differs in how it administers assisted living, and cost ranges can differ significantly facilities from region to region.

In addition, depending on the level of care that’s needed and the specific services being purchased, the monthly cost of entering an assisted living facility can vary wildly, with a common monthly range of $4,500 to $6,500.

A 2020 survey from Genworth financial found that the median annual cost for an assisted living community in the US was $51,600 annually, up from $48,612 a year. It can be hard to predict how long you’ll need to live in such a facility, so you’ll need to budget your retirement savings carefully.

One factor to consider is whether the person can financially afford to stay in assisted living over the long term. Most assisted livings are private pay through savings or long-term care insurance and when the funds run out, they are asked to leave. Families should ask if there is a reduced rate or if Medicaid is accepted.

Does Medicare or Medicaid Pay for Assisted Living?

Medicare and most private insurers don’t cover the cost of assisted living, though you may be able to find some long-term care insurance plans that will cover some of the cost of these facilities.

In some cases, Medicare, which is a national, government-funded health insurance program for adults over the age of 65, might cover the cost of certain health care expenses incurred while you’re living in an assisted living facility, such as wound care administered by a registered nurse or a doctor, but it does not cover the cost of the assisted living facility itself.

Medicaid is a federal program funded by states and the federal government. It’s administered by states and covers nearly 77 million people in the US, including: low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities.

A limited number of assisted living facilities in each region participates in the Medicaid program. Each state determines a set amount of assisted living beds that can participate in the program.

The bottom line: Assisted living facilities can be expensive, and you’ll need to figure out how to finance the cost of assisted living over a potentially multi-year stay.

Advice on Assisted Living


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