Assisted living is not a nursing home. Assisted living is an option between remaining at home and moving into a skilled nursing facility. In California assisted living facilities are licensed by the Department of Social Services and called residential care facilities for the elderly. The Department of Social Services protects resident’s rights to dignity, autonomy, privacy, and safety.

When older adults experience disabilities, chronic diseases and frailty, remaining in their homes is not always an option. Many older adults move into assisted living because they can no longer handle complex tasks such as coordinating their medical care, balancing a checkbook, or running a household.

What is assisted living?

Assisted living is a home-like environment. Many assisted living facilities look like upscale apartments or even hotels. The larger facilities may have nurses on staff and amenities like beauty salons, exercise rooms, dog parks, theaters, and swimming pools. Residents can choose a private room which they are often allowed to furnish, decorate, and maybe paint their own rooms. There are also smaller assisted living facilities. These homes are located in residential neighborhoods, and house between one to six residents.  Continuing Care Retirement Communities have assisted living, independent living apartments, and nursing homes. These communities can meet a wide range of health care needs.

Residents receive 24 hour supervision and assistance, activities, and limited health services. Many facilities offer recreational outings and activities from bingo and art projects to Veteran’s Day memorial services. Residents can get help with personal care such as, bathing, dressing, using the toilet, and taking medications. Staff prepare and serve meals, clean, and change linens.

What does assisted living cost in Fresno?

The monthly fee varies widely. Continuing Care Retirement Communities often have a steep entry fee. Other factors which influence cost include things such as private vs. semi-private rooms, facility amenities, the availability of nursing staff, and care for Alzheimer’s and other dementias (called memory care). A number of services, like incontinence care, transportation, and personal laundry, can incur additional fees. In some communities, podiatrists and registered nurses make house calls for an additional fee. Although some facilities charge a flat fee, most have levels of pricing, so that costs rise as a resident requires additional hours of staff help. Assisted living is largely paid for through savings, pensions, asset income, and family. It is not unusual in Fresno to pay between $2,800 to $4,000+ a month depending on care need.

Personal Considerations

Residents new to assisted living usually do adjust after a three to six month period of experiencing some uncertainty and confusion. Moving is stressful. Difficult decisions have to be made about what to pack, what to sell, give to family, or donate. The older adult has to sort through a lifetime of memories, and will be making the transition into a new living environment alone. Older adults who are able to be in control of the move, and make the decision to move voluntarily, have an easier time adjusting than those who experience a forced move due to a health emergency or a rapidly declining health condition. Older adults may need support to make the choice to move while they are still active enough to enjoy the benefits of assisted living.