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Assisted Living for Wheelchair BoundGrowing older can also come with setbacks such as decreased mobility or even the inability to walk. Some seniors may have suffered accidents, falls, or have other medical conditions that require them to be wheelchair-bound. Regardless of the reason, if you or your loved one are considering moving to an assisted living community, it is important to consider what limitations, if any will be faced.

Up until 1990, there were not many states that enforced the civil rights laws that were on the books for those who suffered from disabilities. When The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was created, those who provide services changed the way those in need were treated. Thanks to these changes and the increased awareness countrywide, there are more long-term care, skilled nursing home care, and assisted living options available for seniors with disabilities.

What is an Assisted Living Community?

Communities that offer assisted living services are specialized spaces that help to facilitate senior living. They can be large sprawling complexes, apartment-style senior housing, or even dormitory-style locations. Caregivers work with seniors to create a low maintenance lifestyle that allows residents to live out their golden years with ease. An ideal resident is one who is active and generally able to care for themselves. Every resident will get a customized level of care, but in general, seniors will receive assistance with eating, grooming, and other daily tasks.

Assisted Living for the Wheelchair-Bound - What You Need to Know

As we have covered in other blog posts, many long-term care and assisted living facilities fall under state regulation. While this does help ensure that seniors are afforded a minimum standard of care regardless of their stay, these laws still present complications for seniors in wheelchairs. Most state regulations list that completely bedridden residents can’t be accepted in an assisted living home. The same laws state that those who are not able to move back and forth between their chair and bed are also not eligible for acceptance in an assisted living facility.

This may seem strange, considering that the notion of assisted living is to help seniors with tasks they are unable to complete on their own. Not all facilities follow this vague terminology to the letter, however, there are some locations that exploit such outdated terminology to reject residents who are wheelchair-bound.

Average Cost of Assisted Living Facilities for Wheelchair Bound Seniors

Assisted living communities are intended for seniors who need limited to moderate levels of assistance. Seniors who transition to an assisted living community still seek to maintain an active lifestyle and maintain their independence. The care provided will be based on each person’s need, and those that are wheelchair-bound will need more assistance than most residents. The general cost of a unit in an assisted living community for wheelchair-bound seniors starts around $4,000 monthly nationwide. It can go up to as much as $8,500 monthly depending on personal selections. Additional services may or may not be included and will vary from facility to facility.

Legalities & Rights of Wheelchair-Bound Seniors

Thanks to newer legal precedents, the practice of denying seniors a spot in an assisted living community due to disability is no longer commonplace. If a senior or their family member is denied enrollment in a facility based on their wheelchair dependence, it can be successfully challenged. Such denial or even hindrance that is due to using a wheelchair is considered a direct violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Seniors and their families who have been worried about finding an appropriate long-term care facility no longer have to worry about their disability getting in the way. Some important laws that seniors and their families should be aware of are:

  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) – This law was enacted in 1990. Its purpose is to prohibit any form of discrimination that is based solely on disability. This law applies to public services, accommodations, and employment. The most commonly known use of the ADA is its regulation of public transportation and building design. These laws and standards don’t apply to buildings that are federally funded, such as post offices and other government offices.
  • Section 504 of The Rehabilitation Act – The first civil rights law of this nature was passed in 1973. Its intent was to prevent any form of discrimination based on disability. This law relates to any activity or program that receives funding from federal sources.
  • The Architectural Barriers Act – This act was put in force by congress in 1968. The purpose of this act is to ensure that buildings that are built, designed, leased, or funded with federal funds maintain proper access for people with disabilities.

Assisted Living Facilities & Mobility Restrictions

Seniors who are wheelchair-bound and wheelchair dependent should be able to seek the same services in assisted living as those who are fully mobile. There are instances when assisted living may not be the right choice for a wheelchair-bound senior, even if the facility offers all of the right accommodations.

The age of the senior, level of wheelchair dependence, and even the existence of comorbid conditions may indicate that more aid than simply an assisted living home is needed. Any facility that offers residential care is legally required to be wheelchair accessible. However, due to ethics and safety, there is a limit to how much aid an assisted living caregiver may provide.

Seniors who are bedridden permanently, as well as those who need more than one person to transfer them from their bed to their wheelchair, are not a good fit for assisted living care. This level of care boarders on medical dependence and seniors who are in this condition may find much more comprehensive care in a senior nursing home.

Why Choose an Assisted Living Facility Specifically for Wheelchair Users?

There are many different types of senior living arrangements to choose from. Independent living, and in-home residential care are all common options for seniors. Seniors who are wheelchair users and those who are wheelchair-bound will find that the former options are quite limited when compared to an assisted living community. Many aspects of assisted living for wheelchair-bound seniors should be considered. Most important is that these specialized facilities are equipped with mobility aids, ramps and wider areas that create a satisfying atmosphere for wheelchair-bound seniors.

What to Look for in an Assisted Living Facility for Wheelchair Bound Seniors

All assisted living homes will offer the same basic range of services. As you delve into each location, you will notice that many facilities will offer more than the basic amenities. Specialized services can include everything from a comprehensive social calendar to experimental therapies. Seniors who are limited in their movements due to dependence on wheelchairs should take a close look at what each facility offers. A few amenities to look for in a home that caters to wheelchair-bound and wheelchair dependant seniors are:

  • Comprehensive Personal Care Services – Communities that offer a high level of personal care support for wheelchair-bound and mobility-limited residents are the best choice for seniors. These types of homes can help lower the stress that comes with suffering from a disability.
  • Accessible & Safe Layout – Updates to building codes have removed to need for assisted living communities to modify their space. This saves time and money all around. Look for a facility that offers wide hallways, sloped floors, and extra-wide doors in the entryways and bathrooms. This will make it easy for seniors in wheelchairs to get around on their own or with the help of a caregiver’s aid.
  • Physical Therapy – Assisted living is aimed at providing active seniors with a place to live with minimal maintenance stress, however, that may mean something different for those who use wheelchairs. Some assisted living facilities offer on-site physical therapy on a daily or weekly basis. This is especially helpful for low-mobility residents staying in assisted living communities. Not only does this help reduce and relieve pain, but it also provides much-needed exercise that prevents muscle atrophy. Not every location offers these services, so make sure to ask the enrollment agent about it during your visit.
  • Aids for Accessibility – Assisted living facilities with accessibility aids are maintained and provided by the staff and management in most cases. Usually, these aids are included in the base monthly cost. These can include wall-mounted call systems, personal emergency response systems, stud-mounted grab bars, and specialty lifts among others.
  • Transportation & Social Space Accessibility – State building codes dictate that public spaces should be wheelchair accessible, but many assisted living communities offer much more than the bare minimums. Accommodations such as ramps, first-floor common areas, elevators, and wider walkways make it easy for seniors to socialize regardless of their disability. Transportation is another important feature for seniors with wheelchairs. Look for assisted living communities that offer specialized transportation for wheelchair users.

When Should Wheelchair-Bound Seniors Consider Moving into Assisted Living?

As we mentioned earlier, assisted living homes are intended for seniors who are generally able to care for themselves, but need occasional assistance. Seniors who use wheelchairs, but are able to move back and forth from their chair alone are good candidates for assisted living. Those who are able to move back and forth from their chair with the assistance of a single caregiver’s help are also good candidates.

Seniors who are dependent upon wheelchairs may still receive any other services typically offered in an assisted living setting. Keep in mind that skilled nursing care and 24-hour supervision are not provided in an assisted living community. Basically, any elderly person who is in general good health, but needs to use a wheelchair for any reason, is a good candidate for normal assisted living enrollment.

What Assisted Living Payment Options Are Available for Wheelchair-Bound Seniors?

Paying for assisted living on top of regular medical expenses can be difficult for many seniors. Long terms expenses tend to increase over time, which can add extra pressure on families or seniors’ savings. There are ways to help reduce the burden of cost for assisted living and supplementary services for seniors who use wheelchairs. Veterans Affairs, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare along with waivers are available for those who qualify.

Medical waivers in the form of Medicaid are available to help cover the medical expenses of low-income and other qualified seniors. Elderly people who use wheelchairs are commonly able to use Medicaid waivers to cover the cost of wheelchair replacement. Seniors who are living in an assisted living facility who are unable to pay for a wheelchair but can’t function without one are eligible for a waiver. Those who are unable to use a manual wheelchair without assistance also have the option of purchasing a scooter with a Medicaid waiver.

Medicaid and Medicare both generally cover the cost of mobility aids such as scooters, walkers and wheelchairs in addition to other auxiliary mobility services. The good thing about these wavers is that it covers caregivers who provide assistance. Although Medicaid and Medicare won’t pay directly for lodging, it helps by covering supplemental care, which includes services such as personal care services, physical therapy, prosthetics and chiropractic services offered at an assisted living location.

Final Thoughts On Assisted Living for Disabled & Handicapped Seniors

Seniors and other individuals who are wheelchair-bound face daily challenges that not many people understand. Despite the reliance on a wheelchair, most seniors will do everything they can to live their life as independently as possible. Elderly citizens deserve the same chance to live their lives on their terms, be that in an assisted living facility or otherwise. Since the ADA was passed in the late ’90s, more housing options for disabled seniors have become available. With a greater number of seniors depending on wheelchairs and other mobility aids, senior living communities have evolved to meet and even surpass their needs.

If you are in need of help finding an assisted living community for wheelchair bound seniors near you in your area, we have a unique search tool that you may find helpful. Seniors who are wheelchair-bound who suffer from memory conditions may also locate memory care homes for the wheelchair-bound using our search feature.



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