Choosing between assisted living, home care, and nursing home care is a difficult decision. You want the best treatment and care for your loved one, but the cost of care for seniors is rising every year, making many options financially straining. In the end, striking a balance between proper care and maintaining the senior’s privacy and independence is immensely challenging.
Pros and Cons of Assisted Living
For seniors who need assistance but don’t require skilled nursing care, an assisted living facility is an excellent alternative to nursing homes. Assisted living facilities offer the best of both worlds, providing 24/7 care and support while respecting the residents’ privacy and independence.
Some of the benefits of moving into an assisted living facility include:
- Help with daily living activities like dressing, bathing, and meal preparation
- Greater privacy and independence than you’d get in a nursing home
- Scheduled activities on and off-site with transportation
- Opportunities to socialize with other seniors on a frequent basis
- Staff handles home maintenance and chores
- An emphasis on living an independent lifestyle
- A less expensive alternative to a skilled nursing home
- Flexibility to adapt to changing needs as a senior ages
- Frequent expert assessments a senior’s health, capabilities, and aging concerns
Assisted living facilities aren’t for everyone, though. Even seniors who are a good fit for an assisted living facility should carefully consider the limitations of assisted living, including:
- Assisted living facilities are more expensive than living at home
- Assisted living facilities don’t offer the extensive medical care that nursing homes offer
- Seniors with advanced Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other chronic conditions that require a higher level of care, attention, treatment, or monitoring may not be a good fit
- Introverted seniors who dislike group environments may have a hard time adjusting to group living in an assisted living facility
- While offering more privacy and independence than a nursing home, assisted living facilities can’t guarantee complete privacy and independence
- Seniors who need more than a basic level of assistance with daily activities like bathing, dressing, and eating may require the services of a nursing home
- Many assisted living facilities don’t include the cost of personal care in the basic fees, making it easy to underestimate the total cost
Cost of Assisted Living in Arizona
According to the latest statistics, the average cost of assisted living in Arizona is a little over $3,500 per month. Actual costs vary widely, ranging from as low as $1,500 per month to over $7,000 per month for premium facilities.
Interestingly, the average cost of assisted living facilities varies from city to city. Flagstaff has the highest average rate of over $4,800 per month, while Lake Havasu boasts the most affordable assisted living facilities with an average rate of $3,200 per month.
Note that assisted living facilities that offer specialized memory care for seniors with Alzheimer’s or dementia cost significantly more than standard facilities. On average, memory care costs an additional $800 – $1,100 per month for increased supervision and security.
For comparison purposes, the average cost of home health care in Arizona is about $21 per hour. When weighing whether or not a senior should be placed in an assisted living facility or nursing home, you should always weigh the costs of home health care against the costs of the facility to ensure you’re making a sound financial decision.
Arizona Assisted Living Regulations
Under the direction of the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Office of Assisted Living Licensing (part of the Division of Licensing Services) regulates and monitors assisted living facilities in Arizona. After passing the initial licensing inspection, most facilities are inspected annually through unannounced visits. Assisted living facilities that receive a deficiency-free relicensing survey are issued a two-year license.
When the Office of Assisted Living Licensing receives a complaint, they coordinate with other state, local, and county agencies to investigate the claim. Any deficiencies discovered in the course of a regular visit or investigation are reported online via a searchable database called AZ Care Check.
In some cases, Arizona Adult Protective Services may get involved when there are allegations of abuse, neglect, or exploitation. Individuals who are guilty of abusing, neglecting, or exploiting seniors are placed on the APS Registry for up to 25 years.
Home Care vs Assisted Living
It’s fair to say that for most seniors, home care is always preferable to assisted living. When feasible, home care allows the senior to retain their independence while receiving necessary care and assistance in the privacy of their own home.
Home case isn’t always feasible, though. When you find yourself considering the merits of home care vs assisted living, it’s best to take the following approach:
- Understand the differences between home care and assisted living – before you start to worry about needs and finances, ensure you have a basic understanding of your options. Call one or two local assisted living facilities to determine their cost and offerings. Next, check with the senior’s insurance provider to find a covered home care provider. Check how much the provider’s services cost after insurance, determine what services they can provide, and most importantly, ask what their response time is for emergency situations.
- Determine how much assistance the senior needs – start by making a list of the activities that the senior in question needs to complete daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. This includes simple activities like bathing, eating, dressing, performing home maintenance, grocery shopping, doctor visits, etc. Next, assess which activities they need help with. Finally, determine how many of these needs can be overcome with help from friends and family.
- Determine the senior’s financial situation – By this point, you should have a clear picture of what the senior needs help with, and the limitations that may necessitate initiating home care or assisted living. Understanding the senior’s needs, the question is now what can they afford. Begin with the senior’s personal finances, seeking to understand their assets (retirement accounts, cash, bank accounts, investments, life insurance, etc.), their sources of income, and their benefits. Next, check the costs of local assisted living facilities and home care providers, and determine how much insurance will cover.
Should you complete this process and discover that the senior needs assistance that they cannot afford, it’s time to turn to government assistance programs for help. Speak with a benefits specialist to check eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid, and any other state, federal, or local programs that may be able to lower the cost of home care or assisted living.
Receive Long-Term Care Help in Arizona
In Arizona, the medicaid program is referred to as ALTCS (Arizona Long-Term Care System). The ALTCS benefit has strict financial and medical eligibility requirements, as the benefit is intended to be used to help families afford costly medical and long-term care bills. This program may be the best option for you and your family, find out today if you may be eligible!
Contact the JacksonWhite Elder Law team today at (480)467-4337 and learn how we can help to ensure you receive the maximum ALTCS benefits available, while preserving as many of your assets as possible.
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