The population is getting older. Projections show that by the year 2060, the number of people living in America aged 65 and older will reach 95 million—nearly a quarter of the estimated population. For comparison, seniors represented just 16 percent of the US population in 2018.
The aging of our country, while an indicator of several good things, is complicated by the fact that chronic disease is also on the rise. Many seniors of the future will be living with challenges associated with obesity, Alzheimer’s dementia, and other conditions that lead to impaired quality of life and a loss of independence. Since life expectancy is still increasing, a majority of these seniors will require even more extended periods of care.
… if you have an aging parent or loved one, it may be time to start thinking about future living arrangements
If you’re an older adult living in the Washington DC area, or if you have an aging parent or loved one, it may be time to start thinking about future living arrangements—especially if living at home is becoming challenging or unsafe. For many seniors and their loved ones, moving to an assisted living facility is a significant yet empowering shift in the right direction.
As a DC resident, understanding the unique benefits and challenges pertinent to your geographical area can make this transition smoother.
What is Assisted Living?
Assisted living provides a blend of health care, personal care, and housing services for individuals who need help with daily activities. These services—which may be offered in independent or retirement communities, or in collaboration with skilled nursing facilities or hospitals—are provided in residential settings as a way to maximize a person’s ability to live as comfortably and autonomously as possible.
People who live in assisted living facilities have the option to receive 24-hour supervision and physical and cognitive assistance for a variety of tasks and activities. It’s a wonderful way to support and honor seniors who are no longer able to safely manage on their own at home yet do not require higher levels of skilled care, such as what may be offered at a nursing home.
Other benefits of assisted living facilities include:
- Increased social engagement and community involvement
- Improved access to providers and customized medical care
- Maximized dignity, privacy, independence, and safety of the senior
- Decreased need to relocate or move far away from loved ones
- Decreased caregiver burden on family members and loved ones
Challenges of Assisted Living in DC
When staying at home is no longer a safe option for you or your older loved one, transitioning to an assisted living can be a life-changing move. But DC-area residents and their loved ones need to be aware of some significant challenges associated with assisted living in and around the nation’s capital:
Washington DC is one of the most expensive places in the country to retire. Housing costs in and around the district are higher than the national average, and typical DC assisted living facility costs ranges from $4,650 to $8,610 per month. Comparatively, average DC-area home health care costs less than $4,000 per month. However, home health care is not a viable option for many seniors who need greater levels of assistance.
If you or your loved one meets certain eligibility requirements, you may be able to receive different types of financial assistance. DC-area seniors can also enjoy tax-free social security income, which may help offset costs.
There were over 96,000 senior adults living in Washington DC in 2006. Meanwhile, there are around 20 assisted living facilities in the area. Limited availability can make it difficult to get into a safer housing arrangement in a timely manner. Waiting lists are common, so arranging tours as soon as possible can be instrumental for getting your foot in the door.
Quality of Care
Washington DC is the only area in the country that does not legally require assisted living facilities to be inspected. This makes it harder to tell if an assisted living facility will provide you or your loved one with the high-quality care you deserve.
Many people choose an assisted living facility based on proximity or geographical area rather than quality. Selecting the right assisted living facility can also seem overwhelming and intimidating, especially if individuals and their loved ones don’t know what to look for or what kinds of questions to ask.
To this end, SeniorLiving.org has a list of helpful questions to ask while touring assisted living facilities, as well as tips on finding the right one for you or your loved one.
Are you the adult child of an aging parent or senior living in the DC area? If you need help learning more about nearby assisted living facilities and other resources available to you, there are a number of resources to turn to, including the DC Office on Aging. You may also want to visit the DC Office of Tax and Revenue and DC Medicaid websites to find out if you or your loved one qualifies for certain senior citizen tax deductions and financial assistance programs.