Senior Living Myths You Need to Stop Believing

Nursing homes are the only senior care options available. Retirement homes are nothing but endless loops of bingo nights. Medicare will automatically pay for all eldercare expenses. People can give away assets at the last minute to qualify for Medicaid. No senior living community allows pets.

People who believe these statements need to think again, because they aren’t true at all. In fact, many people believe plenty of outdated senior living myths, and those misconceptions can make the process of moving a loved one into a retirement community harder than it needs to be.

Top 5 Senior Living Myths

Below are some of the most common myths regarding retirement communities… and why they simply aren’t true!

Myth 1 – Nursing homes< are the only options available

Many people assume that nursing homes, or skilled nursing facilities, are the only senior living options available to them or their loved ones. Fortunately, that assumption is not true at all! There are plenty of senior living arrangements available to suit the needs of seniors from all walks of life.

Alternatives to nursing homes include the following options:

  • Independent living – For active older adults who want to live in a community of other active older adults, independent living communities may be ideal. Most locations only allow people who are 55 years old or older; these communities do not offer extensive help with daily activities or medical care.
  • Assisted living – For people who need just a little extra help with daily activities like toileting or medication management, assisted living communities are available. They generally offer residents more freedoms than skilled nursing facilities do.
  • Memory care – Memory care units house patients with severe memory impairments, most often people with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
  • Continuing care retirement communityContinuing care retirement communities, or CCRCs, are communities that can adjust from lower to higher levels of care for residents over the course of their lifetimes. That means residents will not have to move to a new community just because their needs change as they age.
  • In-home care – At-home aid can include meal delivery, hired professional help with medication management, and assistance with chores like laundry. These arrangements can help seniors live safely in their homes for as long as possible.
  • ​Respite care – Respite care refers to situations in which family caregivers can receive a break, or respite, from caregiving duties. For example, an adult child may be the primary caregiver of her elderly father. If the daughter needs to be out of town for a week for a business trip, she could have her father temporarily admitted to a facility while she is away, so that she has peace of mind that her father is well-cared for while she is away. Nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and even convalescent homes oftentimes offer short-term respite stays.

Myth 2 – Senior living is boring

Many people think that all that awaits them in a retirement home is boredom and an end to any kind of social life. That simply is not true, however. Most senior living communities put extra care into offering a wide array of entertainment and social events to keep all residents occupied and happy. These events not only keep boredom at bay, but also improve residents’ quality of life by actively encouraging socialization.

For example, many assisted living communities offer game nights, have secure outdoor courtyards with gorgeous walking paths, host arts and crafts, or even have in-house movie theatres for residents to enjoy on a regular basis. With offerings like these, residents may even pick up new hobbies and passions they might otherwise not have enjoyed.

Most retirement communities proudly display their entertainment and social activities on their websites, although people shouldn’t be afraid to inquire further to see just what fun awaits their loved ones at a prospective community.

Myth 3 – Medicare will automatically pay for all types of senior living

Medicare is an incredibly popular public healthcare program in the United States. Because it covers many healthcare expenses, some people (incorrectly) assume it will cover all healthcare expenses for participants.

Unfortunately, Medicare does not automatically cover all types of senior living expenses. For example, Original Medicare (Part A and B) typically will not pay for any kind of independent living arrangement.

Furthermore, the program will not cover custodial care (non-skilled personal care often offered in nursing homes) if it is the only care someone requires, according to the official government site. The program will usually only cover short-term stays in skilled nursing facilities if certain conditions are met.

Specifically, in many cases, it covers 100% of costs associated with these stays for the first 20 days. Then, it will cover only a set amount (usually around 80%) of the costs for the next 80 days, and the patient will have to pay coinsurance (many times around 20%). After 100 days, the program typically does not offer assistance.

Myth 4 – You can give assets away to qualify for Medicaid

Most people know that healthcare in the United States can be expensive. In fact, many people rely on insurance plans, such as those offered by Medicaid or private insurance policies, to cover stays in skilled nursing facilities rather than paying for the care out of pocket.

Qualifying for Medicaid is oftentimes difficult, however, as the program has strict income eligibility requirements. In an effort to meet these requirements, some people may try to give away assets shortly before applying for the program. Although, because Medicaid has a five-year look-back period, giving away assets below fair market value shortly before applying can push someone’s eligibility back, known as the penalty period.

Myth 5 – Senior living communities never allow pets

Some people believe that seniors will have to give up their beloved pets when moving into a senior living community. Fortunately, many locations allow pets, such as cats and small dogs. While the exact guidelines vary by community, people should not be afraid to ask a prospective senior living community what their pet policies are, so that their loved ones may be able to bring Fluffy or Fido along.


Disclaimers: This article does not constitute professional, legal, financial, or healthcare/medical advice. While we strive to provide accurate information, given the subject material, we cannot guarantee 100% up-to-date information with total accuracy.