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 Pittsburgh

Assisted living in Pittsburgh checks in below the national average. The 2015 Genworth Cost of Care Survey lists the average annual cost to be $36,900, which is far below the U.S. average of $43,200. On a per month basis, this annual figure breaks down to $3,075 per month. If you look at things from a daily rate, the cost hovers around $101 per day.

Assisted living is lower than the average range for home health care in Pittsburgh, which ranges from $48,048 per year for homemaker services and $49,192 for home health aide services. Assisted living is also substantially less expensive on average than nursing home care in Pittsburgh; the average cost for semi-private nursing home care in Pittsburgh is $92,345 per year, and the average cost for a private room is $110,960 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?

No two assisted living facilities will be the same as each one has its own culture and personality. Pittsburgh has about 60 assisted living communities within the city, and then 14 more on the outskirt areas. Each facility offers its own set of amenities, and many create a personalized care plan based on the veteran's specific needs. Since the care provided to seniors is personalized, assisted living communities have standard services offered with the residents' monthly fees, but they also offer a wide selection of a la carte services that cater to a senior's preferences.

Additionally, those communities that are billed as luxury communities will offer an assortment of high-end services for those who want them.

What’s included in assisted living?

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

  • A private room – usually a studio or 1-bedroom apartment, but could also be a multi-bedroom space.
  • 24-hour security, including on-call nursing assistance.
  • Emergency call systems.
  • Utilities such as electric, water, and natural gas.
  • Daily meals and snacks – all typically served restaurant style in the main dining area.
  • Housekeeping and laundry services.
  • Medication management, including refill reminders.
  • Wellness and fitness programs such as a walking club or on-site pool area.
  • Social and recreational activities such as themed parties, game nights, movie nights, and day trips to museums and performances.
  • Transportation, errand, and shopping assistance – this usually involves running to the grocery store, salon, 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

Veterans in Pittsburgh can always reach out to the Veterans Outreach Center, and the Military/Veteran Resource Network. These options can help veterans go through their benefits to help determine what is available to them. All three have information and resources to help veterans in other ways, as well.

Navigating veteran benefits can be confusing for a lot of veterans, so there are certainly volunteer positions available with any of these resources to help explain things to other veterans. However, one of the most valuable volunteer opportunities available to veterans in assisted living is through helping other vets work through their PTSD or other emotional issues around being stationed overseas. A veteran knows exactly what another veteran is going through and sometimes having a support group helps the healing process. The VA can always use more volunteers.

Pittsburgh doesn't have much in the way of military attractions, but the warm weather certainly helps appease older joints. That being said, Arizona is all about the old West, and many of their attractions highlight that heritage. There are art museums, history museums, breweries, and more. Veterans visiting the historical sites in Pittsburgh will get to learn about famous outlaws and lawmen, and how they clashed in the old West.