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Information On Assisted Living Facilities

Assisted Living Vs Home Care

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Home care offers care for seniors who wish to age in place, and provides support and respite for caregivers. Home care aides are trained in senior care and can provide companionship, help with ADLs, light housekeeping, cooking, transportation, and more.

However, home care differs from assisted living when it comes to socialization, intellectual stimulation, and cost.

  • Socialization. While home care offers one-on-one care tailored to individual needs, seniors in assisted living enjoy a variety of social programs and outings in a community of peers.
  • Intellectual stimulation. Assisted living facilities offer classes and continuing learning opportunities for seniors that home care cant provide, including art and craft studios, cooking workshops, brain games, and more.
  • Cost. The level of care provided by home care aides is based on needs, and costs are calculated by the type of care provided. Home care fees are charged by the hour. This means that home care may be an expensive alternative to assisted living, depending on how much care is needed.

Caring for an aging loved one at home may also require modifications to make their home safe and accessible. These could include simple additions such as grab bars, to more costly and difficult updates, including ramps, wider doorways, chair lifts, walk-in showers, and elevators.

What Are Activities Of Daily Living

Needing help with activities of daily living is the most common reason seniors choose assisted living. Those seeking assistance typically needs help with at least two everyday tasks. Studies show residents most common ADL needs are:

  • 64% need help with bathing
  • 57% need help with walking
  • 48% need help with dressing
  • 40% need help with toileting
  • 29% need help with bed transfer
  • 19% need help with eating

National Senior Living Statistics

About 2% of seniors in the U.S. live in assisted living facilities. The average cost of assisted living in the U.S. is $4,300 per month. For context, the estimated median monthly cost for a 44-hour-a-week home health aide is $4,576.

An additional 4% of seniors live in nursing homes. The median cost of nursing homes nears $9,000 per month for a private room, making assisted living an affordable and popular choice for seniors who need more than just care during the day. As of 2019, California has 1,246,079 nursing facilities, the most of any state in the country.

Assisted living is more affordable than other senior care options, but its still a major expense. However, not everyone appropriately budgets for elder care plans.

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How Do I Arrange For Assisted Living Services

If you are interested in receiving assisted living services or know of someone who might be in need of these services, you can contact the home and community care office of your health authority or you can have a health care profession make a referral on your behalf.

For contact information and a detailed description of how to arrange for assisted living services, please see:

Assisted Living Community Requirements

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All residents of assisted living in Wisconsin are entitled to their own private apartments, complete with individual living and sleeping areas, restrooms, and kitchen areas. A CBRF may contain between 5 and 257 apartments, while a higher care-level providing RCAC can have between 5 and 109 individual apartments.

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How Do I Find An Assisted Living Facility

With so many options and factors to consider, determining whether or not an assisted living community meets your loved ones needs may seem like an overwhelming task. Our Senior Living Advisors can help connect you with assisted living facilities in your area. These local senior care experts can help you consider your aging relatives needs, your expectations for care, and your financial resources to find the right care for your loved one.

What To Look For When You Visit

Once youve narrowed down your list to a few facilities with the services and price range youre looking for, schedule visits to tour them and talk with administrators, staff and residents. Take your loved one with you and let them handle as much of the talking and decision-making as possible.

NCAL recommends visiting each facility multiple times. Arrange to be there during mealtimes and perhaps even have lunch with residents, to give you a better sense of what its like to live there.

From AARPs checklist, here are some other things to look for:

  • Cleanliness
  • An emergency generator or alternative power source in case of an outage
  • Enough common areas, such as dens and living rooms
  • A floor plan that’s logical and easy to follow
  • Large enough rooms for your family members needs
  • Rooms and bathrooms with handrails and call buttons
  • Safety locks on doors and windows
  • Security and fire safety systems
  • Services such as banking, a beauty salon or a café
  • Well-lit stairs and hallways with well-marked exits

The National Center for Assisted Living advises that you ask plenty of questions about staff members, including their qualifications and whether they receive additional training from the facility.

On your visits, observe how employees interact with residents. Ask about the facilitys suggestion, complaint and grievance procedures, and whether it has resident and family councils to provide feedback.

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Wisconsin Area Agencies On Aging

Area Agencies on Aging is a network of hundreds of nonprofit organizations across the country that provide federally and locally funded services to adults over 60 in their areas. Wisconsin has many Area Agencies on Aging that provide free resources to seniors and serve as entry points to long-term care assistance like Medicaid waiver guidance and long-term care advocacy.

In many areas of Wisconsin, the Aging and Disability Resource Centers serve as the AAA for the region. See the table below to find the nearest AAA point of contact.

Area Agency on Aging

Elearning Course: Assisted Living In Bc

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Learn about operating an assisted living residence where people are safe and can thrive.

This interactive online course provides you with information about:

  • the laws and regulations that apply to the operation of an assisted living residence,
  • the three classes of assisted living in B.C.,
  • the roles and responsibilities of an operator and their staff,
  • the rights of residents, and
  • operating a successful assisted living residence

See videos of real people, both residents and staff, and test your understanding about assisted living with the knowledge check questions.

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How Does Assisted Living Compare To Other Senior Living Options

Assisted living falls somewhere between an independent living community and a skilled nursing facility in terms of the level of care provided. It is a good solution for those who need some assistance with ADLs, but can still live somewhat independently and want to retain that independence as long as possible. That being said, some seniors will be better suited for a different senior living option. Below, we explain how assisted living compares to other common senior living options.

Assisted Living Communities vs. Nursing Homes

People often confuse assisted living facilities for nursing homes, but the two senior care options are very different.

The key difference: assisted living communities provide personal care and assistance with ADLs for residents who need help with these activities but do not require skilled nursing care, while nursing homes provide around-the-clock skilled care and medical support. For example, a nursing home would be a good fit for someone who needs a feeding tube, while assisted living would not.

Another big distinction is the types of services and amenities offered. Assisted living communities typically offer a wider range of social activities and outings and have a less institutional, more communal feel than nursing homes. And while nursing homes tend to be more expensive than ALFs, Medicaid and Medicare can be used to cover skilled nursing home costs, which is rarely the case for assisted living.

Assisted Living vs. Memory Care

What Should I Look For In An Assisted Living Community

The following questions will help you and your family to evaluate assisted living facilities. Print out these questions and have them answered before you decide on an assisted living facility.


  • What type of insurance does the facility carry on personal property?
  • How do they respond to medical emergencies?
  • What is the visitation policy?

Contracts, Costs, and Finances

  • Are staff members appropriately trained?
  • Is staff turnover rapid or slow?
  • Did you receive a warm greeting from staff? Are staff members personable and outgoing?
  • Are staff members appropriately dressed?
  • Do staff members greet residents by their first names and interact warmly with them?
  • Are staff members available to meet scheduled and unscheduled needs?
  • Are staff members available to assist residents who experience memory, orientation, or judgment losses?

Residents and Atmosphere

  • Do residents socialize with each other and appear happy and comfortable?
  • Do residents, other visitors, and volunteers speak favorably about the facility?
  • Do the residents seem to be appropriate housemates for you or your loved one?
  • Are the residents at similar levels of functioning as you or your loved one?

Facility Design

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About Assisted Living Facilities

These facilities in a community setting are licensed to care for seven or more residents. The assisted living facility provides room and board and help with activities of daily living . Some ALFs provide limited nursing services others may specialize in serving people with mental health problems, developmental disabilities, or dementia . RCW 18-20-020.

Some Assisted Living Facilities provide Assisted Living through a contract with the Department of Social and Health Services. Specific services are provided in a contracted assisted living facility.

Tips For Making The Transition To Assisted Living Easier

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Life in an assisted living facility is an undeniable adjustment. In addition to a new living environment, you are meeting new residents and getting used to the staff. This can feel stressful in the beginning. But there are things you can do to make the transition easier.

Pack well in advance of the move. Dont add to the stress of the actual move by putting yourself in a position where youll need to make hasty decisions about what to take and what to discard.

Know what to expect. Do your homework on the facility. It will be less stressful if you know what to expect. Read all the materials before you move in and make sure all of your questions are answered ahead of time.

Stay busy. You may be tempted to stay in your apartment or living space, but youll feel comfortable much quicker if you get out there to meet the residents, participate in activities, and explore the facility.

Go easy on yourself. Everyone adjusts to change differently, so give yourself a break, no matter what youre feeling. However, if you feel like youre taking longer than you think you should to adjust, it may help to talk to your family members, the director of the facility, or a trusted friend.

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The Cost Of Assisted Living In Wisconsin

The monthly median cost of assisted living in Wisconsin is $4,300, which is slightly more costly than the national average of $4,000. According to Genworths 2018 Cost of Care Survey, assisted living in Wisconsin is among the most expensive of all the states in the area, with Iowa and Michigan being the least costly.

The average cost of assisted living varies widely across the state. The La Crosse area is most affordable by far, at only $2,638 a month on average, followed by Fond du Lac at $3,744. The rest of the state stays around the national average, though the Wausau, Sheboygan, and Racine are much higher and the Oshkosh area averages the highest at $5,000 a month.

The cost of assisted living in Wisconsin is about half the price of nursing home care, which averages at $8,334 a month. It is most affordable to live completely independently, but for those that need in-home care or memory care, costs are very close to the price of assisted living, which is the least expensive option.

Assisted Living Admission Requirements

To be a resident of a CBRF, a person may need personal care services but for no more than three hours a week. The CBRF may admit a wider range of residents, such as the developmentally disabled or mentally ill as well as the elderly and those with dementia. No assisted living facility is able to extend residency to someone who is unable to evacuate on their own in the case of an emergency.

Requirements differ for admission to an RCAC. These facilities are designed for those that need higher levels of care but are not:

  • Diagnosed with Alzheimers disease or related dementia
  • Incapacitated from making their own decisions
  • In need of in-depth health monitoring

People who fall into this category may move in with their spouses, as long as their spouses hold legal responsibility.

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More Ways To Finance Assisted Living

Some additional ways to finance assisted living costs include:

  • Veterans Benefits: Veterans can take advantage of several different pension programs to help cover the cost of assisted living. For more information, see the article on
  • Life Insurance Policies: Even if a spouse or loved one hasnt died, certain types of life insurance policies can be used to pay for assisted living. More information is available at
  • Long-Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance is a type of insurance policy that pays for long-term care when it becomes necessary, including the cost of assisted living. For more information on the benefits and drawbacks of this financing method, visit
  • Reverse Mortgages: Reverse mortgages allow seniors to access the equity from a home that they own, and these funds can be used to pay for assisted living. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a federally insured reverse mortgage program.

Making The Decision To Leave Home: What You May Be Feeling

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No matter your situation, moving is always stressful. But when youre contemplating leaving your home for an assisted living facility, stress is just the tip of the emotional iceberg. You may associate grief with the death of a loved one, but grief is a natural response to any loss. And the loss of your home, neighborhood, and community is a big one.

The thought of leaving everything you know can make you feel very vulnerable. You may feel like youre losing your independence or a big part of your identity. Its important to realize that all of these feelings are normal. Take some time to acknowledge these feelings of loss. Sometimes talking to someone who is sympathetic can help. Counseling and therapy can be an option too. Give yourself time to grieve and get used to the change.

Need to talk to someone?

Get professional help from BetterHelps network of licensed therapists.

Need urgent help? .

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Memory Care Assisted Living

These are specialized assisted living facilities or homes that specialize in the care of older adults with dementia. Since they are not long-term care facilities, but have increased staffing ratios, they operate similarly to long-term care nursing homes. However, they focus on assessing and treating residents with social and medical needs specific to dementia and cognitive impairment. Some memory care assisted living facilities are stand-alone, while others are associated with a CCRC or other ALF. Some memory units are locked to ensure safety of the residents within the community.

How Do I Decide Which Assisted Living Residence Is Best For Me

It is advisable that you tour prospective residences. Tours need to be scheduled in advance with the assisted living residence staff.

Here are some things you should consider:

  • Your geographic location
  • What your personal needs are
  • Language spoken at the residence and
  • What activities the assisted living residence can provide.

Many residences have an information brochure or package that provides an overview of their philosophy, services and will answer many of your questions.

Ask for the service agreement or similar documentation. A service agreement will clarify what services are provided, what services are not available and any extra charges that may apply. Many assisted living residences also have their own websites.

To learn more about assisted living residences in your region, visit the assisted living pages on your health authority website:

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Assisted Living Vs Independent Living

Independent living and assisted living cater to different senior needs. Both senior living options offer safe, senior-friendly housing and amenities, with social activities, outings, and restaurant-style meals. However, independent living differs from assisted living as it doesnt provide help with activities of daily living, like bathing, dressing, and grooming. This means independent living is often less expensive than assisted living.

Independent living is for older adults who can live on their own, but may desire convenience, community, and peace of mind. Independent living communities provide many on-site opportunities for community involvement and social engagement without the difficulty of arranging transportation. It also offers a maintenance-free lifestyle, where seniors can choose to delegate household chores like laundry and housekeeping, so they can spend more time pursuing their passions.

Assisted Living Medicaid Waivers

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Wisconsin has Medicaid waivers available for home and community based care such as services received while in assisted living facilities. These waivers are now available in all 72 counties, without waiting lists for eligible participants.

IRIS Self-Directed Support Waiver

IRIS stands for Include, Respect, I Self-Direct and it provides a means for every resident that needs nursing home level care is able to decide their care providers, living environment and personal care services within an individual budget. Participants create personal care plans with the help of their caseworker, care team and a nurse that will re-evaluate the plan at least once a year. This waiver is for people who would like to self-direct their care as much as possible, and are not residents of assisted living facilities.

Family Care Waiver

The Family Care Medicaid waiver is for the frail elderly who need financial assistance paying for long-term care services. This waiver may pay for room and board in a Medicaid certified community-based residential facility or residential care apartment complex . Participating facilities are bound to strict resident rights regulations, such as required space and transportation services.

Who is Eligible?

How to Apply

To find out if the Medicaid waivers are right for you and your loved ones, and what you are eligible for, contact the Wisconsin Aging & Disability Resource Center or your Medicaid worker.

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