Information About A Texas Assisted Living Residence

An assisted living residence is often called an assisted living facility or ALF. It is meant to help people who need assistance with some activities of daily living such as taking their medications at the correct dosage and time or taking a bath, but who do not need the 24-hour care they could receive at a nursing home. Texas licenses ALFs as personal care facilities. In Texas, a facility only needs to be licensed if it cares for more than four residents.

The first ALFs opened in the 1980s, when the United States was dealing with an aging, but basically healthy, population who did not have family nearby to help meet the few care needs they did have. These people resisted going into nursing homes, which at the time offered only limited privacy and personal choice. ALFs usually provided people with private rooms or apartments; social activities and outings were available but not mandatory.

ALFs currently provide homes to over 1 million United States residents. Of those, slightly less than half suffer from diseases that cause cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia. In Texas, there are currently 830 licensed personal care facilities and over 4000 facilities that are unlicensed.

Assisted living facilities offer residents a private apartment or room and three balanced meals per day. In addition, they provide help with common physical needs such as keeping track of medicines, showering or bathing, dressing, and toileting. Depending on the rules in each state, some facilities provide heavier care, such as helping people transfer from their bed to their wheelchair and even feeding residents.

Like an apartment complex, a facility charges a basic rate for each room or apartment, with single rooms and studios being the least expensive. The facility then charges extra for the care required by each person. Most facilities express different care levels in “points”–the higher the points, the greater the additional cost.

For instance, in Austin, Texas, ALFs charge an average of $1500 per month for room and board alone. Once you figure in the services most people need, that cost goes up by about $500 per month. These costs are still less expensive than the costs of nursing homes which, in the Austin regions, charge an average of $3000 to $4000 each month.

Most people who live in an assisted living residence pay for their care from their own resources, although Medicaid is available to help cover the cost of care in about 41% of the states. Texas was one of the first two states to develop a Community-Based Alternatives program which helped pay for the cost of care in an assisted living facility. Around 22,000 Texans in ALFs currently receive assistance from the Texas Medicaid program.

Texas has also set standards to determine when an assisted living residence is no longer an appropriate placement for an individual. In order to remain in an ALF in Texas, patients must be able to understand emergency instructions and assist in their own evacuation in the event of a fire or other emergency. ALF care is also no longer appropriate if a resident needs 24-hour care and supervision or requires invasive procedures such as tube-feeding or IV medications.

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