Residential Care Facilities: Your Home Away From Home

Residential care facilities, also called assisted living facilities or care homes, are homes that offer living arrangements and a host of personal, medical and social services for adults age 60 and up. Intended for seniors who can no longer adequately care for themselves on their own, residential care facilities offer valuable assistance and supervision with activities of daily living such as:

  • Housekeeping
  • Laundry
  • Health services
  • Physical therapy
  • Exercise
  • Personal hygiene
  • Eating

The level of care varies by facility and allows residents much more independence than a traditional nursing home. Because of this, residential care facilities are ideal for independent seniors who are physically and mentally in good health but are in need of some extra personal care and opportunities for socialization.

Some residential care facilities offer individual apartments with small kitchens, while others only provide single rooms or two-room suites. Most facilities also offer a communal dining area for residents who cannot prepare their own meals or who prefer to eat in a more social setting.

Services Offered at Residential Care Facilities

It is very important to understand that residential care facilities are different from nursing homes. Residential care facilities are not classified as medical facilities in the United States and are therefore not legally required to have doctors or nurses on staff. The staff members at residential care facilities are usually very experienced in working with elderly clients, but do not have specialized medical training.

Residents who require medication may have their medicines stored at the facility. Staff will distribute the medication at the proper time each day, but the resident is responsible for consuming it. Some residential care facilities have a nurse, physician’s assistant or medical doctor that sees patients on site. Facilities that do not offer this type of care may offer shuttle service or other transportation assistance to residents who have medical appointments off site.

Cost of Residential Care Facilities

The cost of living at a residential care facility varies considerably. The determining factor is usually the size of the room or apartment the resident selects, with apartments costing much more than single rooms. Some residential care facilities offer the option of shared rooms, which may cut the cost of residence almost in half.

Some facilities charge a monthly or annual fee that covers all services, while others charge a basic rate for room and board, with extra fees for add-on services. It is extremely important to understand the fee structure of any residential care facility before applying for residency. Employee health insurance plans rarely cover long-term care expenses, so many residents and their families have to pay for long-term care entirely out of pocket.

It is prudent for all individuals approaching retirement age to make an honest assessment of their financial situation, and to investigate financial options, such as Medicaid, veterans benefits or long-term care insurance, so that financing a stay at a residential care facility is as pleasant and stress-free as possible.

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Written by senior housing staff writer.

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