Assisted living facilities are an ideal option for seniors that are looking to receive a measure of aid in order to go about their day to day living. The scope of this particular service is pretty wide, as it can stretch from preparing daily meals and helping them take medication to driving them around to handle various errands during the day. It should also be noted that these special services are not just reserved for those that need help completing various activities for daily living. Indeed, assisted living is a terrific option for those that want a break from having to handle home maintenance and would prefer to spend more time on enjoying the leisurely life of a retiree.

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The cost of assisted living in Columbus

Assisted living in Columbus checks in above the national average. The 2015 Genworth Cost of Care Survey lists the average annual cost to be $49,350, which is much higher than the U.S. average of $43,200. On a per month basis, this annual figure breaks down to $4,113 per month. If you look at things from a daily rate, the cost hovers around $135 per day.

Assisted living is actually lower than the average range for home health care in Columbus, which ranges from $45,760 per year for homemaker services and $48,917 per year for home health aide services. Assisted living is also substantially less expensive on average than nursing home care in Columbus; the average cost for semi-private nursing home care in Columbus is $71,905 per year, and the average cost for a private room is $75,920 per year.

For qualified veterans and their spouses, further assisted living savings may be obtainable via the Aid and Attendance Pension Benefit, which can otherwise be known as the A&A Pension Benefit. This special benefit can provide a veteran up to $1,788 per month, a surviving spouse up to $1,149 per month, or a couple up to $2,120 per month. Furthermore, a veteran with a sick spouse that applies for the program is eligible to receive up to $1,406 per month. The process to qualify for the A&A Pension Benefit is relatively simple.

Eligible veterans or surviving spouses of eligible veterans must show the need for help with activities for daily living, otherwise known as ADLs. Some of these activities include bathing, cooking, dressing, medication management, leaving the house for errands and appointments, and grooming. With that being said, seniors do not need to demonstrate that they need help for all of these activities. Aid and Attendance funds can assist in paying for ADL services in numerous places, such as an assisted living community, skilled nursing home, or within the confines of the senior’s own home. For those that are interested, it should be noted that the application process could take several months from beginning to end, but retroactive payments are sent upon the program’s approval.

What can you expect?

Each community brings something different to the table, so the best way to ensure that a veteran will be happy is to bring them along and let them speak with the management staff and the other residents. Each veteran is treated like an individual, so the care plan created focuses on the veteran's needs and preferences. However, a typical day might look something like this:

  • The veteran wakes up at their preferred time.
  • Morning ritual – this can be drinking a cup of coffee and reading the paper, or making the bed before breakfast. Anything the veteran likes to do in the morning before starting their day.
  • Breakfast with the other residents in the dining hall.
  • Morning activity – each assisted living facility will have something different they do, but this might be gardening, wood work, peeling apples and baking pies, etc.
  • Exercise – this includes walking, yoga, Qigong or Tai Chi, or something else the veterans might prefer.
  • Lunch with the other residents in the dining hall.
  • Day trip – either to the grocery store, a museum, or retail shops.
  • Afternoon social – these are sometimes themed, and there are usually snacks and drinks available as residents socialize.
  • Dinner with the other residents in the dining hall.
  • Evening activities – Bingo, cards, movies, board games, etc.
  • Evening ritual before bed.
  • Lights out.

As mentioned before, this will vary from community to community and the list above is only an idea. But, there is plenty to do to keep veterans active.

What’s included in assisted living?

The most common services included with a resident's monthly payments include:

  • A private studio or 1-bedroom apartment style space.
  • Emergency call systems.
  • 24-hour security, including on-call nursing assistance.
  • Housekeeping and laundry services.
  • Utilities such as electric, water, and gas.
  • Daily meals and snacks – all typically served restaurant style in the main dining area.
  • Medication management, including refill reminders.
  • Wellness and fitness programs such as walking clubs, yoga, and Tai Chi.
  • Social and recreational activities that keep residents engaged and active.
  • Transportation to and from grocery stores, spas and salons, and retail shops.
  • Religious and spiritual services.

What may be available for an extra fee?

Some communities may also offer additional on-site perks that residents can pay extra to utilize. Typically, these perks can include private transportation, personal laundry service, beauty salon services, and massage sessions.

The continuum-of-care option

Additionally, many seniors look for an assisted living service known as a continuum of care, which essentially describes a facility that can provide accommodation for residents regardless of what their specific need may be. Residents in these particular communities typically don’t have to deal with as many big moves should their health or daily needs shift, and they will also remain in a familiar setting even if their health dictates that they have to move to a different building within the facility’s complex. Prices on continuum of care do fluctuate based on the actual service that is needed.

Resources, volunteer opportunities and points of interest for veterans

Columbus, OH has many resources available to veterans and their families. There is the Military Veterans Resource Center, which runs a food drive, hosts a job board, helps with housing, and offers transportation. Their goal is to get vets off the streets and into steady jobs and housing, but they help all vets regardless of their needs. There is also the Ohio Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), and the mayor's office also has resources available for veterans.

Both the Military Veterans Resource Center and the VA could always use volunteers, especially veterans who want to help other veterans. Those who are already in assisted living communities have navigated the tricky waters of veteran benefits, and they're in a good position to offer advice to those vets going through it now. It's a great opportunity to provide insight to other veterans while engaging in more than just assisted living activities.

Despite Columbus' impressive resources for veterans, there aren't a lot of military attractions that veterans might be interested in visiting. In fact, it seems Columbus is more about expanding a veteran's horizons with other points of interest. The Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum is a popular choice for many veterans. It has one of the largest vintage auto collections in the nation, and admission is free.

Another favorite is the German Village. The village is an area of Columbus that was originally settled by a large population of German immigrants, so the architecture is distinctly German. The village has several cultural and historic events that take place each month and there is shopping and dining available for visitors. Veterans usually enjoy the architecture and history, and possibly the bourbon tasting which happens often as well.