Massachusetts Assisted Living

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Massachusetts Assisted Living: How to pay for, Licensing and Questions to ask…

The diverse economy of Massachusetts makes it a desirable location for seniors and retirees. The economy of the state is the third best in the country. The summers in Massachusetts are arguably the most beautiful seasons of anywhere in the world. The seafood is world famous, bringing people from all over the country. An advantage to being an aging adult in Massachusetts is the top-tier hospitals and medical facilities. Massachusetts ranks first in the United States for healthcare access. From the winter-time activities to the exciting and thriving sports scene, Massachusetts has fun for everyone. About 18% of the population of Massachusetts is 65 years and older. We all know that as we age some people may require care at some point. When most people think of senior care or housing they envision a nursing home. However, nursing homes are far from the only option when it comes to caring for a loved one. When the time comes to move into a new housing situation, Assisted living communities offer your loved one the benefit of security and peace of mind. These communities are a specific level of care in a community setting.

There are over 250 assisted living communities and facilities in the state of Massachusetts. Boston, Cambridge, Salem, Brookline, Brockton, Plymouth and others accommodate seniors with assisted living communities and facilities.

Aside from assisted living, there are a variety of senior living and housing and care options which suit the requirements and desires of seniors.

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.

More about assisted living

Assisted living communities are NOT nursing homes. The most common universal term is assisted living. Some other common terms include: care home, residential care, convalescent home, rest home, or retirement home. The lay person sometimes groups all senior housing into the term of “nursing home.”

What does Assisted Living in Massachusetts offer?

Service plans

A personalized service plan is required for all residents before admission. The Executive Office of Elder Affairs states that a Service Coordinator and a nurse are required to coordinate the service plan and assess and adjust as needed. Aside from evaluating a resident’s needs, service plans must include all services that will be provided to the resident (activities of daily living, etc), and the type of unit(s) allotted to the resident.

Services

Assistance with:

  • bathing
  • dressing
  • medication management
  • mobility
  • grooming
  • meals

Laws and regulations

Housing

Assisted living communities and facilities must provide a single or double unit. There must be a lockable door at the entry to each unit. There must be a kitchenette (access to a refrigerator, sink, heating element). Resident units must have a private bathroom with a toilet and bathtub.

Staffing

The Department of Elder Affairs in Massachusetts requires that all staff be qualified for the level of care they provide. All communities and facilities must have a qualified manager to oversee operations. in Massachusetts, assisted living communities must hire a service coordinator with a Bachelor’s degree or experience in human services.

All staff must undergo appropriate training and continuing education.

Grievances

Elder abuse in Massachusetts includes sexual, physical, financial exploitation and emotional abuse. Any suspicion of elder abuse can be reported (24/hrs a day) at www.mass.gov or by calling the Elder Abuse Hotline: (800) 922-2275

Expected monthly cost of assisted living in Massachusetts

The expected monthly cost of assisted living in Massachusetts is $6,100 per month. Across the country, the average cost of assisted living is $4,500 per month. When comparing national costs, the northeast region of the United States is among the most expensive in the country for senior care and housing.

  • National average cost of assisted living per month: $4,500
  • Massachusetts: $6,100
  • Rhode Island: $6,850
  • New Hampshire: $6,100
  • Vermont: $5,300

The cost of assisted living within Massachusetts may vary widely depending on where you are looking to find a community.

  • Massachusetts state average for assisted living per month: $6,100
  • Boston: $6,700
  • Barnstable Town: $7,000
  • Springfield: $5,000
  • Worcester: $5,700

How to pay for assisted living

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 state and 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 when Looking for Senior Living

Finding an assisted living community, can be overwhelming. Here are some tips on things to be observant of:

  • Does the facility have the right atmosphere for your needs?
  • 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 (there is 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.

Eldercare Locator is a nationwide service 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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