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Assisted living in Georgia can help seniors with health and cognitive issues live more independent lives, enriched by friendship, meaningful activities, and the chance to master new skills. Caregivers may also gain immense relief from assisted living, since it allows them to transition back to a family relationship and out of the caregiver role. This can alleviate stress and depression, and can even create far-reaching health reverberations for a family, since caregivers sometimes struggle with stress-related health issues.

If you want a better life for the senior you love, you may wonder if it’s time to consider assisted living. Georgia does not have any specific requirements for seniors who want to live in assisted living. Instead, admission criteria are up to each individual community. To get Medicaid coverage for assisted living, however, a senior has to meet very specific requirements.

What Are the Requirements to Live in Assisted Living in Georgia?

The Georgia Department of Community Health licenses and regulates assisted living communities, as well as a wide range of other health care facilities. DCH has stringent requirements for assisted living communities, and conducts regular safety inspections to ensure seniors receive quality care in a supportive and safe environment.

DCH does not set eligibility standards for seniors to enter assisted living. Instead, caregivers decide when assisted living is appropriate for their loved ones. Some communities may also establish requirements for acceptance, especially in areas where assisted living communities have long waiting lists.

Although DCH does not set any specific requirements, Medicaid does. Georgia Medicaid will fund assisted living for low-income and medically needy seniors. Because Medicare does not fund long-term care, most seniors who need assisted living end up classified as medically needy, which means they cannot afford to fund their long-term care needs. Medicaid funds more than 70 percent of assisted living stays.

To be eligible for Medicaid funding of long-term care, a senior must:

  • Demonstrate that the care is medically necessary. They must have a physical or mental impairment that makes it impossible for them to care for themselves. A doctor must diagnose and document this impairment.
  • Have a low monthly income. As of 2018, the monthly income limit was $2,250. In some cases, seniors with higher incomes may be able to qualify as medically needy if their income is insufficient to cover their medical needs. There are also various ways to structure income and assets that may increase the likelihood of Medicaid eligibility. This is a complex legal undertaking, so contact a Georgia elder lawyer for help with asset structuring.
  • Have less than $2,000 in assets. This excludes your home if your home is worth less than $572,000 (as of 2018). If your spouse will remain in the home, other rules apply that may allow you to have more assets. A lawyer can help you determine how best to structure your assets in this scenario.

Additionally, a senior must apply for a Medicaid waiver, which allows them to choose assisted living instead of a nursing home.

When to Consider Assisted Living in Georgia

Seniors of limited means and those who have significant medical expenses will likely qualify for Medicaid-funded assisted living, although applying can take some time. Plan ahead, and work with a care coordinator to apply before you think the move to a nursing home is imminent.

As your loved one’s needs change, you’ll need to assess whether it is time for assisted living. This is not an easy question to answer, especially if you don’t see your loved one every day. Some signs that a person might need assisted living include:

  • Difficulty keeping up with daily grooming and self-care tasks. Does your loved one look disheveled or smell? Has a once pristine appearance given way to more lackadaisical hygiene?
  • No longer being able to safely drive, and having few options for transportation and entertainment without a car.
  • Increased difficulty with nutrition and eating. Is your loved one losing or gaining weight? Do they have trouble swallowing? Have they stopped cooking?
  • Executive functioning impairments that make it unsafe for your loved one to live alone. Do they leave the stove on? Can they remember to lock the door?
  • Mental health challenges such as depression due to isolation, pain, or failing health.
  • Falling for scams or making dangerous decisions due to dementia or another cognitive health issue.
  • Needing help with medication management. Does your loved one remember to take their medication? Do they take too many drugs, or take medication at the wrong time?

Assisted living in Georgia can help your loved one feel safer, live healthier, and enjoy greater independence and socialization. The Arbor Company has served Georgia’s seniors for more than 30 years. We believe that the right assisted living program can revolutionize a senior’s entire way of being, while offering invaluable support to their family. To learn more about our unique approach, or even ask a simple question, give us a call!

Beth Laxton

About the Author: Beth Laxton

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