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ElderLaw Radio Interview: Selecting an Assisted Living Facility

  • February 10th, 2009

When the time comes to seek help with everyday living, there is an expanding array of care options to choose from. Everyone's first choice is to remain at home, something a number of states are encouraging with increased Medicaid coverage. But more and more people are opting for assisted living facilities -- places that provide room and board, and some services, especially health care. Currently one million Americans live in assisted living facilities, and that number is expected to rise quickly. And according to Eric Carlson, an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center (NSCLC) and co-author of The Baby Boomer's Guide to Nursing Home Care, many assisted living facilities are redesigning themselves so that elderly residents can stay longer, even if their health needs increase.

When choosing a facility, the most important first step is to establish the level of care you want and make sure the facility can provide it, Carlson tells Harry Margolis in a recent ElderLaw Radio interview. Consumers often assume that if a facility is licensed, then it must be well staffed with qualified caregivers. Not necessarily, says Carlson, who warns that often the health care expertise of the staff is minimal. He suggests asking basic questions up front, such as whether health services are provided in-house or brought in from outside. Requirements vary from state to state, so the level of services can vary too.

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Costs are not standard either. The price of basic assisted living care can be anywhere from around $1,500 a month to more than three times that amount. What's more, many of the costs are not immediately apparent. Many facilities have an 'a la carte' pricing system, whereby each additional service is added to the original monthly fee. Carlson warns listeners that they should carefully examine the contracts of the facilities they are considering, so there will be no unpleasant surprises once the move is made.

Carlson recommends two Web sites to help consumers better understand their choices and protections: the NSCLC's site at www.nsclc.org and that of the Assisted Living Consumer Alliance at www.assistedlivingconsumers.org, which provides state-specific information.

To listen to Harry's entire 10-minute interview with Carlson, click here.

To browse other ElderLaw Radio interviews, click here.

For a checklist on choosing an assisted living facility, click here.

For more on assisted living facilities, click here.


Last Modified: 02/10/2009

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