Alabama Assisted Living: How to pay, Licensing and Questions to ask…
17% of Alabama’s 5 million residents are aged 65 and older. Seniors love that there’s no tax on social security, so when the time comes for new housing and care solutions – they have that extra money for assisted living. Generally, when people think of senior housing, they envision a nursing home. However, nursing homes are definitely not the only option for our loved ones. When the time comes to move into a new housing situation, Alabama assisted living communities offer your loved one the benefit of security and peace of mind. Assisted living in Alabama is a specific level of care in a community setting.
The state of Alabama has several cities where senior citizens may receive excellent healthcare: Birmingham, Auburn, Tuscaloosa, among others.
Find the Senior Care You’re Looking For
As we mentioned, there are a variety of types and levels of care aside from a nursing home or an assisted living community. It’s good to be informed as you find the right fit for your loved one.
Common terms that differentiate levels and types of senior living:
- Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs)- typically include independent living, assisted living, residential care and skilled nursing services all on one campus.
- Independent Living Communities – provide residents a setting without the burden of home ownership. Residents commonly live in fully equipped private apartments or cottages from a studio to large two-bedroom units.
- Care Home or Adult Family Care Home- are private residences in a home-like setting that provide care services to a smaller more limited number of residents (typically 5-12 residents, depending on each state’s regulations).
- Assisted Living- provides housing and supportive care in a community setting, but the residents do not require 24-hour nursing care.
- Memory Care- a care setting for residents with memory loss or confusion. The community typically has a “secured” entry for residents that may wander. This care can be provided in different care settings depending on the state licensing requirements.
- Skilled Nursing is state licensed to provide a safe, therapeutic environment for people who require rehabilitative care 24 hours a day.
Assisted living in Alabama
Most Assisted Living Communities will provide a bedroom, restroom, meals, and assistance with care. Additionally, the size and amenities of each community can vary greatly and affect cost. Residents may experience increased socialization, classes for health and fitness, and quality nutrition plans.
Assisted living is the common term in Alabama. Federally, assisted living is the universal term as well. The lay person sometimes groups all senior housing into the term of “nursing home.” Assisted living communities are NOT nursing homes.
What services are offered in assisted living in Alabama?
Residents may move into these communities to receive assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs):
- Medication assistance and reminders
- Toileting and incontinence management
Most Assisted living communities provide meals, light housekeeping, and activities program. Additionally, some may also offer support such as scheduled transportation and linen service.
Other possible services and amenities in Assisted Living
Life enrichment: Activities should be provided for the enrichment of residents. Typically, these include light exercise, social opportunities, or spiritual programming.
Additional activities and amenities may include:
- Game nights
- Parties and other social events
- Planned outings
Laws and regulations in Alabama
Assisted living in Alabama is licensed and regulated by the Bureau of Health Providers Standards of the Bureau of Public Health.
Alabama does not require apartment style living. Rooms may either be single or double occupancy. There must be a toilet and sink for every six residents – a shower or bathtub for every eight residents.
There is no required staff to resident ratio in Alabama assisted living. Though, there must be sufficient staff to provide services and care for residents on site. One staff (minimum) must be certified in CPR.
All suspected abuse should be reported to the Alabama Bureau of Public Health.
Expected monthly costs of assisted living in Alabama
The cost of assisted living in Alabama is much less than the national average. The average monthly cost of assisted living in Alabama is $3,500 – the national average is $4,500 per month.
- The national average cost of assisted living per month: $4,500
- Alabama: $3,500
- Tennessee: $4,150
- Florida: $4,000
- Georgia: $3,550
- Mississippi: $3,500
Most of the cities in Alabama vary by only hundreds of dollars in cost, but there are cities which are much more expensive than the median, and cities which are much less.
- Birmingham: $4,050
- Daphne: $4,000
- Dothan: $2,160
- Tuscaloosa: $3,150
- Montgomery: $3,500
- Decatur: $3,450
How to pay for assisted living in Alabama
It is important to take your time when exploring payment and coverage options.
Medicare – NO:
- Medicare does NOT pay for Assisted Living.
- People 65 years and older and individuals with end stage renal disease are eligible for Medicare benefits, no matter their income.
- Coverage is meant for people in need of short-term care.
Private pay – YES:
- Many families pay for assisted living with private funds.
- Private pay can be a combination of retirement funds, personal savings, and pension payments.
- Family members may contribute funds to pay for assisted living or other senior housing and care.
Medicaid – MAYBE:
- Medicaid provides health coverage to millions of Americans. Eligible participants include: low-income adults, elderly adults and people with disabilities.
- Medicaid is administered by state, according to federal requirements. The program is funded jointly by each state and the federal government.
- Every state has their own individual Medicaid assistance program.
- National guidelines are in place do decipher how states must spend Medicaid money, but with allowances toward the guidelines.
- The state determines what levels of care will be covered by Medicaid, who is eligible, and how much the state will reimburse the care community.
- If you are unsure whether you qualify for Medicaid, you should apply. You may be eligible depending on your household income, family size, age, disability and other factors.
Long-term Care Insurance – MAYBE:
Long term care insurance is a great way to pay for assisted living, and planning ahead is important when considering how to pay for senior housing and care. Nearly 75% of people over the age of 65 will require long-term care and services at some point. Buying into long-term care insurance when a person is in their 50s and 60s is the most common time to do so.
- Long-term care insurance helps cover the costs of chronic medical conditions.
- Individuals and couples with the ability to pay into long-term care insurance have the advantage of a head start in allocating funds for senior care.
Veteran Aid and Assistance – MAYBE:
This benefit is available to some military veterans and surviving spouses who live in an assisted living community and those who have in-home care.
- There are specific guidelines, but a veteran may qualify for as much as $2,050 each month.
- A veteran with a sick spouse may be eligible for $1,600 per month.
- If a veteran has passed, their surviving spouse can qualify for $1,300 per month.
Questions to Ask
Finding an assisted living community, can be overwhelming. Here are some tips on things to be observant of:
Assisted Living: Questions and inquiries when visiting communities and facilities
- Do the admission criteria match my needs?
- Have I reviewed the terms of the financial/provider agreement?
- Is the unused portion of the rent refunded upon transfer/discharge?
- Do I have a choice in the selection of medical/health care providers if additional services are needed?
- Are the specific services offered Clearly identified in the agreement?
- Have I reviewed The House rules?
- Have I reviewed all of the reasons for which I may be transferred of discharged?
- Is the bedroom private or shared?
- Is the bathroom private or shared?
- Are the shared areas clean?
- Is there space for personal belongings?
- Does the floor plan allow for easy mobility for me?
- Are there private areas other than the bedroom for visits?
- Is bathroom safety equipment installed or available if needed? (grab bars, raised toilet seat)
- Is there a call system?
- Are walkers/wheelchairs permitted?
- Are hallways and doorways wide enough for wheelchairs?
- Am I involved in the care planning process?
- Is my family/responsible party involved?
- Is my physician or other health provider involved?
- Are the care plans updated to reflect changes in care needs?
Resources and Links- Alabama
Alabama Department of Senior Services – LSA serves low-income people by providing civil legal aid and by promoting collaboration to find solutions to problems of poverty. LSA offices handle civil cases only.
Alabama Department of Human Resources Adult Protective Services Division – The mission of the Adult Protective Services Division is to support and enable County Departments to protect elderly and disabled adults from abuse, neglect, and exploitation and prevent unnecessary institutionalization.
Alabama State Health Insurance Counseling Program – The Alabama Health Insurance Counseling Program gives free information and assistance on Medicare, Medicaid, Medigap, long term care, supplemental insurance, and other health insurance benefits.
Legal Services Alabama, Inc – LSA serves low-income people by providing civil legal aid and by promoting collaboration to find solutions to problems of poverty. LSA offices handle civil cases only.
Eldercare Locator This is a great resource to search for specific care in specific counties and cities. This database is a nationwide resource that connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources. Connect with services such as meals, home care or transportation, or a caregiver education or respite from caregiving responsibilities. The Eldercare Locator is a public service of the Administration on Aging (AoA), an agency of the U.S. Administration for Community Living.
Medicare provides a search feature to find & compare providers near you, most senior housing and care providers are included on CareAvailability.com. Find & compare plans in your area. Determine if you qualify for premium savings
Medicaid offers information on how to apply for Medicaid, eligibility criteria, links to local state offices, and additional resources
The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. Whether you are living with Alzheimer’s or caring for someone with the disease, information and resources are available.
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