Although the monthly rent rate charged by assisted living and memory care properties is usually straightforward and easily understood, the monthly “care costs” of helping you with activities of daily living (ADLs) that may be assessed can be complicated. A health professional (usually their nurse) from the property will do a care needs assessment which may be in-person, via a phone call, or perhaps a telehealth type of virtual assessment. The nurse may also contact your physician to get information about your care needs. After that information is gathered, the community uses a formula to determine your monthly care costs.
The most common method in our area is a “level of care” assessment. After the care needs assessment, the property uses a formula to calculate the monthly cost of your care. Properties vary widely in the manner in which they calculate this number that is based on your needs. For instance, if you need help with managing your daily medications and with getting in and out of the shower safely that might be considered a Level One, so the charge for that might be $300, which is added to your rent rate each month. If you also need help dressing and grooming as well as incontinence care, that might take you to a Level Two, and would be $600 added to the monthly rent rate. One or more of ADLs (most common in our area is medication management) might be included in the base rent. Ask questions about this whole process until you are satisfied that you understand their policy.
The other most common method is the “a la carte” assessment. If you need a stand-by shower assist, maybe that’s $98 per month. If you require help managing your medications, that might be $350 per month. Each item of care is added to your monthly rent rate.
So - Be sure to get, in writing, everything that is included in the rent rate as well as what isn’t included (for all services and activities). For instance, basic housekeeping is performed for you “x” number of times at no cost, but what about laundry? Is there a charge? Is it per load? What about internet service? Hair salon charges? And keep in mind that care costs are subject to change at any time – if you no longer need as much assistance, it would decrease – if you need more, the cost increases. Ask what circumstances might cause a change in care costs and how much notice you would get before that happens.
Always ask if the community increases the rent periodically and how much that increase typically is (usually 3-7% each year), and budget accordingly.
If you’re considering a residential care home rather than a community setting, you’ll find that some of them don’t assess monthly care costs nor do most of them increase the rent rate annually.
I know this seems complicated, and it can be, especially since it differs from community to community. Consult a senior living advisor like me to help you understand and walk thru the entire process of your search with you. That’s one of the many ways we help you find the best fit for you in a senior property – and our services are FREE to you and your family.
Karen Mitchell, Owner - Assisted Living Locators of Fort Worth
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®, Dementia Care Certified (CDC)®
Office 817 888-8648 Cell 817 718-0619