Atlanta senior housing 101

Everyone deserves a place to live and thrive. For many older persons, finding accessible and affordable housing is a primary concern. Maybe you have trouble maintaining your current residence, need some modifications to stay safely in your home, desire to move closer to family members (or to a sunny climate!), or require more help around the house. Regardless of your situation, there is a solution.

Whether you would simply like to downsize, need repairs or modifications to your current home, or are homeless, metro Atlanta has housing options for your situation.

The right living situation is the foundation for a stress-free life. And your family members can relax knowing that you are in a safe environment, with access to the services you may need.

Get to know your options for senior living in Atlanta

You may consider adapting your own home, moving to an independent living apartment, or perhaps you need the additional hands-on services provided by personal care homes, assisted living, or nursing homes. Once you understand all of your options in depth, you can figure out which is right for you.

Does my home need modifications or repairs?

If your mobility needs are changing, you may need modifications—like adding grab bars and ramps—to help make your home a safer and more accessible place. If you own your home, empowerline can help link you to trusted partners who can adapt your home at full, reduced or no cost to you, depending on your circumstances.

If you rent your home, empowerline can help link you to services that can protect your rights as a tenant. As a tenant, you have rights to have your landlord make certain repairs and to a reasonable accommodation of your disability to make your home accessible to you.

Is independent living right for me?

Independent living means you either stay in the home you have owned or rented for years, or live in a downsized home or apartment. It is important to realize that independent living options means that hands-on services (sometimes called “personal care”) or nursing services are not provided as a service.

If moving from your current home is the option you are considering, there are a variety of independent senior living arrangements that offer services ranging from minimal to comprehensive in metro Atlanta. Some offer hot meals and housekeeping only. Others offer lots of options: dining rooms, housekeeping and laundry services, social and leisure activities, libraries, beauty salons and barber shops, pools, gardens, movie theatres and fitness facilities.

Either way—whether you stay where you currently live or move to a complex designed for independent living—this is a great option for people who do not need hands-on care. Or, if you have care needs, you will need to access personal care or nursing services from a family member or paid service, but not from your landlord or other housing provider. Independent living options are not licensed by the State of Georgia and have no regular inspections to ensure that the setting is meeting minimum service standards.

Paying for independent senior housing

If you can afford to pay the full amount for your housing and plan to move into a complex designed for independent living, you’ll find many options available: These residences may be apartments, townhomes, villas, cottages, suites, and for-purchase-condominiums. These options vary widely in cost depending primarily on services offered, amenities, and type of home. Many of these communities have a minimum age criteria for admission.

If you cannot afford to pay the full amount for your housing, there are several “subsidized independent senior living” options available. In these settings (typically apartments), residents pay a reduced rent rate. In many subsidized housing units, social service staff are available on site to offer social activities. Often, these housing options require that residents meet age, physical disability, or income criteria to qualify for the subsidy.

Paying for services in your current or new home

If you need to bring in professional services to assist you in your home, empowerline can help you find options, including for finding ways to help you access home and community-based services even if you have limited income.

To access in-home personal care or nursing, there are a couple of options of licensed providers agencies in Georgia:

  • Private home care provider—an entity that provides direct care services provided at an individual’s residence, including nursing services, personal care tasks and companion or sitter tasks.
  • Home health agency—an entity that provides home health services according to a written treatment plan signed by the patient’s physician in the individual’s residence. Home health services include part-time or intermittent skilled nursing care and at least one of the following: physical, occupational or speech therapy; medical social services; or home health aide services.

To search for in-home personal care providers, including their inspection histories, visit GaMap2Care.

Is a personal care home or assisted living community right for me?

Personal care homes and assisted living communities are options for individuals who’d like some help with day-to-day living. These services are provided directly (or arranged for) by the housing provider. In both cases, individuals receive help with personal services, including individual assistance with or supervision of self-administered medication, as well as other essential daily activities such as eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, and toileting, but do not receive round-the-clock nursing services.

  • Personal care home—a residential setting which provides or arranges for housing, meals, and personal services for two or more adults unrelated to the home’s owner or administrator. Download our factsheet on personal care homes to learn more, or use our personal care home checklist during your search for the best living situation.
  • Assisted living community—a residential setting which provides personal services and medication administration by a certified medication aide for 25 residents or more.

Paying for personal care homes and assisted living communities

Residents of personal care homes and assisted living communities usually pay the rent and other fees with their own private resources. Depending on the type of home and amenities, fees can cost several thousand dollars per month.

Individuals who qualify for Medicaid-funded home and community-based services, including the Community Care Services Program, have the choice of living in a specially enrolled personal care home called “alternative living services.” These individuals receive 24-hour supervision, medically-oriented personal care, periodic nursing supervision, and health-related support services.

More information on personal care homes and assisted living communities

Personal care homes and assisted living communities are licensed by the State of Georgia. You can search for these options and learn about their inspection history. Plus, residents in these options have access to person-centered advocates, called the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, to help them resolve any concerns.

Is a nursing home right for me?

The first thing to know about a nursing home is that most nursing homes actually provide two separate categories of service:

  • Post-acute—sometimes called short-term rehabilitation or skilled nursing; only available after a qualifying hospital stay and only for a limited time.
  • Long-term care—nursing, medical, social and personal services to support individuals who have chronic conditions and need assistance with daily activities.

Paying for a nursing home

Nursing home payment options depend on what category of service you are receiving:

  • Post-acute services are typically covered by Medicare Part A for a limited time. Almost all nursing homes in Georgia are certified to accept Medicare.
  • Long-term care is not covered by Medicare and typical health insurance. This is an important (and often misunderstood) point. Payment options include private pay, private long-term care insurance, and—for those who qualify—Medicaid and Veterans Administration benefits.

An important note about Medicaid: Most nursing home residents in Georgia receive Medicaid to help pay the part of their stay that they cannot afford. Even if they came into facility paying privately, they often end up qualifying for Medicaid due to spending down all of their savings. These individuals provide all of their monthly income (minus a small personal needs allowance) to the nursing home, then Medicaid pays the rest of the bill. Almost all nursing homes in Georgia are certified to accept Medicaid.

Additional nursing home resources

Nursing homes are regulated by the federal government and licensed by the State of Georgia. Plus, residents have access to person-centered advocates, called the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, to help them resolve any concerns.

You may also find these other resources helpful:

It is important to know that some nursing homes do not have the name “nursing home” in their name. They may be called “health and rehab” or “care center,” for example. The best way to know for sure whether a particular facility is a nursing home is to go to Medicare’s page to compare nursing homes and search by facility name. By the way, the term “nursing home” has the same meaning as “nursing facility.”

What is a Life Plan Community?

All of these options—independent living, assisted living, and nursing home—can be found on the same campus in some parts of metro Atlanta. Sometimes they are arranged as part of a “life plan community” (also known as a “continuing care retirement community” or “CCRC”). These are a special category of residential communities designed for people age 62 and older. They require a large up-front fee, which ensures that you will receive a variety of living options and services, all on the same campus, designed to address your changing needs.

Learn more about Life Plan Communities in Georgia.

Need more help understanding your options for senior housing in Georgia?

Prepare to discover new comforts and new communities or adapt your own home to be a better fit for your current needs —there are numerous options and resources to help you navigate them. If you’d like more information on senior housing options, services, amenities, costs, or facility contact info, call empowerline today.

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