Frequently Asked Questions
When should I start considering a retirement community?
Communities usually have a minimum age restriction of 55 for at least one of the residents, but some have age minimums of 60 or 62. The time to start looking for a retirement community is when you’re ready for more freedom and more opportunities. Independent living communities are maintenance-free, so you rid yourself of those chores. They also offer easy access to friends and fresh meals. You should begin your search before there is a health crisis. Your choices will be broader if you’re a healthy senior and you’ll have more time to participate in the community’s activities and amenities. Plus, the lifestyle offered by the community could help you, or the important senior in your life, to live a happier, healthier and longer life.
What are the attributes of a well-managed senior living community?
Look for consistent, high-quality services and care in a senior living community. Start by assessing the management. Conduct interviews with them in person and talk to residents to get a clear picture of the community and how responsive the management is to residents. A history of successful experience in the senior living community; peer and industry recognition and honors; resident satisfaction; steadfast principles; and the mission and values are other areas to examine.
What do I need to know about rent versus buy-in?
Some communities charge a one-time entrance fee or buy-in option. This upfront sum helps cover community operating expenses and prepays some of the fees that come with access to continuing care for life. As part of a full continuum of care community, you or your loved one has access to all levels of care if needed at a discounted rate. At some communities, a percentage of the entrance fee is refundable. Other communities offer a month-to-month rental structure with all of the amenities covered and some meals. This allows lower upfront costs and the ability to make transitions more cost-effective should your needs change.
What is independent living?
Independent living is designed for senior adults who are able to live an independent lifestyle with minimal to no personal care assistance on tasks such as bathing, brushing teeth, medication administration or getting dressed.
Daily services may include dining, home or apartment maintenance, transportation, housekeeping and security. Many communities also offer convenient on-site amenities such as swimming pools, fitness centers, beauty and barber shops, libraries, bars, billiard rooms and much more. Independent living communities offer varying levels of programming that encourage residents to interact and meet other residents with similar interests.
What is assisted living?
Assisted living is designed for senior adults who value their independent lifestyle but may need some additional assistance in daily activities such as dressing, bathing or medication management.
Assisted living communities are designed to nurture the independent spirit while assisting with the physical activities of daily living. Services provided include bathing, grooming, dressing and a wellness program. Some states also allow assisted living to offer medication assistance and/or wellness reminders.
What is a memory care community?
Memory care communities are specially designed to serve residents with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Services and amenities related to this type of care may also be offered in assisted living or skilled nursing care settings. Those services and amenities designed specifically for memory care may include self-contained neighborhoods, secured units or buildings, comprehensive supervision and security, medication assistance, rehabilitation programs and daily activities designed to keep minds active.
What is rehabilitation and extended stay?
Rehabilitation and extended stay (skilled nursing) provides 24-hour nurse supervision, meals, activities, wellness programming and health management support to post-surgery and post-hospital residents. In addition, rehabilitative and extended stay wellness centers offer long-term oversight for individuals who require 24-hour oversight and care management. Nursing staff members develop personalized care plans for each resident and work with them daily to ensure exceptional outcomes.
A skilled nursing community provides skilled nursing and rehabilitative care, such as physical, occupational and speech therapies for the rehabilitation of recovering persons. Residents who are best suited for skilled nursing require 24-hour oversight by a licensed nurse and require constant monitoring. In order to be admitted to a skilled nursing community, you must need skilled nursing care or rehabilitation services or health-related services above the level of room and board on a daily basis and on an in-patient basis.
What can I bring to a rehabilitation and health care center?
Most facilities provide furnished suites with room amenities not unlike your favorite hotel. The room typically includes furniture, electric bed, linens, television and telephone service. For short-term residents, our suggestion is to pack a suitcase with toiletries and clothes for one week at a time. We do encourage our guests to bring family pictures and other personal mementos for recovery inspiration and returning to independence.
How often will a doctor visit me at a rehabilitation & health care center?
A doctor sees a resident as often as is medically necessary. Medicare and insurance companies may also make recommendations on how often a resident should be seen, but visits are determined by individual resident needs.
Will room service be available to me if I don’t want to eat in the dining room?
Dining in the resident suite is an available option. Please notify your care team of your request and your meal will be delivered to you as requested, unless contraindicated by your physician of plan of care.
Are there visiting hours in a rehabilitation & health care center?
Visitation with family and friends is always encouraged. Should the resident be in short-term care, the visitor should check with the nurse to avoid conflict with the resident’s therapy schedule.
How does Medicare work for short-term skilled services care?
A skilled care stay is often needed after a surgery or hospitalization due to illness or injury. Consult with the community’s financial professional or Medicare’s website (https://www.medicare.gov/index) about the benefits and coverage. Medicare provides coverage for skilled care on a short-term basis when the following criteria are met:
- A senior is currently receiving Medicare Part A (Hospital insurance) benefits and is therefore 65 years or older or has been formally diagnosed with renal failure
- A hospital stay of three or more consecutive days (three midnights) within the past 30 days
- A physician has determined that skilled care and/or rehabilitation is medically necessary due to a current health condition
- The skilled services required are provided in a community that has been certified by Medicare
If all of these conditions are met, Medicare will contribute to the nursing home cost required on a short-term basis (up to 100 days). Specifically, Medicare will provide 100% coverage for Skilled Nursing costs for the first 20 days of a nursing home stay. From day 21 through day 100 of the benefit period, the individual is responsible for paying 20% of the total cost while they continue to meet Medicare requirements.
How does my insurance work with Medicare to cover my skilled services cost?
Most Medicare supplement insurance will cover the co-pay up to day 100 of skilled services, providing the individual continues to meet Medicare requirements. Prior to admission, all insurance is verified by each community’s financial advisor to give the family peace of mind that services will be covered.
Will I be notified prior to my benefits ending?
Yes. When your coverage under Medicare Skilled Nursing is soon to end, the community must give you a written notice titled, “Skilled Nursing Facility Advance Beneficiary Notice of Non-Coverage.” The form explains why your care is no longer covered. You or your legal representative will be asked to sign the form to acknowledge your receipt.
What is the 30-Day Window?
When a patient is discharged from a hospital or skilled nursing community, a 30-day window exists where coverage may be reinstated. If a patient goes home from a hospital or skilled nursing community, and their condition worsens within 30 days, Medicare may cover continued care at a skilled nursing community.
You or your loved one may be able to receive short-term skilled nursing and rehabilitative services through Medicare benefits if:
- The person has traditional Medicare
- The person was admitted to a hospital for three consecutive days, not counting the day of discharge or observation days
- The person needs further care of the condition that was treated in the hospital or other conditions requiring skilled nursing or rehabilitation services
- A physician certifies the patient requires skilled or rehabilitative care after a hospital stay