Florida Assisted Living

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Florida Assisted Living: common terms, questions to ask, and how to pay

Assisted living in Florida is a specific level of care in a community setting. Most Assisted Living Communities will provide a bedroom, restroom, meals, and assistance with care. The size and amenities of each community can vary greatly and affect cost. There are over 5 million seniors living in the state, making it by far the most popular place for our senior citizen population to retire and live out their days. As a result, there are over 1,775 assisted living communities and facilities in the state of Florida, and on average the cost is $500 per month less than the rest of the country.

What makes Florida ideal for assisted living?

Florida is sunny and warm almost year round and there are endless beautiful beaches. Locals receive discounts on certain attractions out on the town and a diverse cultural landscape. In Florida there is no state income tax and housing is affordable and abundant. If you like to get out into nature, there is endless enjoyments to be experienced.

Most importantly, community living allows your loved one the benefit of security and peace of mind. They may experience increased socialization, classes for health and fitness, and quality nutrition plans.

Some people group all senior housing into the term of “nursing home.” Assisted living communities and facilities are NOT nursing homes.

Requirements of Assisted Living in Florida

Admission

  • Communities and facilities may not accept a new tenant if they cannot meet the specific needs of the tenant.
  • The general population of assisted living (ALFs) in Florida are residents who are able to walk around with minimal assistance, engage in simple social and leisure activities, and perform ADLs (activities of daily living) with minimal assistance.

Licensing Assisted Living in Florida

  • The Agency for Healthcare Administration licenses and regulates as assisted living communities and facilities in the state of Florida.
  • Periodic audits are performed to ensure they meet regulatory standards and legalities.

Service plans

  • New residents must undergo a medical exam and meet with staff to create a plan of service based on the results of the examination. The service plan will be a written record of the resident’s needs such as medication assistance, physical and medical needs.
  • Service plans are updated on a regularly monthly schedule, by either a nurse of physician. Along with the service plan is written documentation informing new residents of their rights, expectations of services within the community or facility, and expected costs.

Housing in Assisted Living

Florida allows communities and facilities to arrange private apartments or single and multiple occupancy bedrooms within a larger shared space/spaces.

All include specific requirements:

  • minimum square footage
  • Lockable doors
  • Private bathroom
  • Kitchenette facilities
  • accessibility for residents with physical or visual impairments

The fee schedule is regular monthly rent. There may be additional charges for amenities and any specific services. These community settings are terrific situations for individuals who want to live as independently as possible and direct their own care.

Services provided in Florida assisted living communities?

Florida has agencies in place which regulate Assisted living communities and determine what care levels and staffing are allowed. Most Assisted living communities provide meals, light housekeeping, and activities program. Additionally, some may also offer support such as scheduled transportation and linen service. 

Above all, residents move into these communities to receive assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs):

  • Dressing
  • Bathing
  • Medication assistance and reminders
  • Eating 
  • Toileting and incontinence management
  • Transferring

Other services and amenities in assisted living communities

Each assisted living community and facility is different, and as such will offer different services and amenities. Typically, there are a variety of similar options which are likely available as offered or as requested:

Transportation

Options vary from community to community, state to state, city to city and so on.

Housekeeping

Typically, assisted living communities provide housekeeping and linen services. Duties may be performed on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

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

  • Clubs
  • Game nights
  • Classes 
  • Parties and other social events
  • Planned outings

How much are assisted living communities in Florida?

The average monthly cost in Florida is less than the national average. Communities in Florida are about $3,500 per month. The national average is $4,000 per month.

The cost of assisted living will fluctuate throughout the state, typically costing more in the higher populated big cities. If you remove the larger cities on Florida, the average cost in smaller counties and the more rural areas is $3,000, which is below the state average and well below the national average.

  • State average per month: $3,500
  • Port St. Lucie: $3,650
  • Miami: $3,500
  • Orlando: $3,300
  • Tampa: $3,300
  • Tallahassee: $4,400
  • Naples: $5,4800
  • Jacksonville: $4,500
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Costs of assisted living vary depending on the location you are seeking care

How to Pay for assisted living in Florida

Florida’s Medicaid does not directly cover assisted living. However there is a Long-term care Waiver available for those who are eligible. Fr those who want to be reimbursed for assisted living services must undergo an assessment by CARES (Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long-term care Services).

Paying for Senior Living and Care will vary depending on a few factors. For instance, the level of care needed; the income and savings of the resident; the location of the community; or if the resident is a veteran. In the United States there are over 400 programs that may offer some monetary relief for senior care, but often the majority of costs are covered by private funds and family assistance. These funds come from our Federal, State, and Local Governments. 

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:

  • Make sure the facility is clean and well maintained. You can tell a lot about the operation by noting what is clean and maintained. Are doorknobs loose or damaged? Do you see any frayed carpet or trip hazards?
  • Visit during lunch hour to observe what the residents are eating. Ask questions about the nutrition program. Is there diversity in meals, healthy fruits and vegetables served at all meals, drink options?
  • Speak to residents and/or family members to learn their perspective.
  • Ask about staff and resident engagement. Get a feel for how staff interact with residents.
  • Ask about the life enrichment programs. Activities are crucial when it comes to quality of life and play a key role in care for older adults.
  • And finally (along with a plethora of more things to consider), get to know the leadership in the building. If you feel good around the Executive Director, Head Nurse, Lead Activities Director and even the Chef or Janitor, it is a good sign you can trust them with the care of your loved one.

Florida Department of Elder Affairs Administers human service and long term care programs for Florida’s elders age 60 and older and their caregivers. Services include Home Care Program, Nutrition Programs, Home Delivered Meals, Congregate Meals, Nutritional Counseling, Family Caregiver Support Program, Adult Family Care, Personal Care Management Program, Money Management Program Financial Assistance, Congregate and Supportive Housing, Nursing Home Ombudsman Program, transportation, home repairs and employment.

Department of Children and Families Florida Abuse Hotline The Florida Abuse Hotline serves as the central reporting center for allegations of abuse, neglect, and or exploitation for all children and vulnerable adults in Florida. Confidential reports.

American Indian Tribes and Tribal Organizations is a Care Giver Program, Case Management, Home Health Services, Adult Protective Services, Emergency Response Systems, Employment Services, Financial Services, Legal Assistance, Home Repair, Home Modification, Information and Referral/Assistance, Home Delivered Meals, Congregate Meals, Personal Care, Sr. Center Programs

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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Written by The Care Availability Team
Experts in the senior care & retirement living industries

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