Portland is Oregon’s largest city, famous for its donuts, coffee, and breathtaking natural views. Downtown is active and exciting, while the residential neighborhoods offer suburban quiet within city limits. Overall, Portland is an exceptional place to live and many families are migrating to the area for retirement.
Along with thousands of restaurants, locally-owned shops, and world-class cultural opportunities, Portland is home to many premier assisted living communities. Many offer views of the Willamette River and Mount Hood, conveniently located near the incredible resources Portland offers. The assisted living communities and residential care facilities in Portland offer long-term assistance for people who need help with their activities of daily living, like eating, bathing, or dressing.
The Oregon Department of Human Services oversees all assisted living communities and residential care facilities in Portland, providing regulations for their services, apartments, and amenities. This guide will discuss Oregon’s regulations for assisted living residences in Portland and bring attention to the city’s many exciting opportunities.
Portland Assisted Living
Before a community may offer accommodations for residents and provide long-term care, they must receive proper licensing from the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS). The ODHS sets regulations for assisted living communities throughout Oregon, determining the services and amenities they must provide.
Assisted living communities and residential care facilities in Portland are two distinct categories of long-term care residences:
Assisted living communities are residences with fully self-containing senior living units, providing accommodations for six or more unrelated individuals.
Residential care facilities may contain shared or individual senior living units, providing accommodation for six or more unrelated individuals.
Both categories of long-term care communities provide similar services, like medication administration and assistance with residents’ activities of daily living. They also provide stimulating activities to satisfy their their social and educational needs.
Assisted living communities and residential care facilities in Portland must offer support services 24-hours a day to meet the ODHS licensing requirements. They may provide optional services if they choose, but they must offer the following services at the minimum:
Social and recreational activity programs
Social and medical transportation
Service planning is required for each resident. Before a person may be admitted to an assisted living community in Portland, they must participate in an pre-admission assessment. The pre-admission assessment will take the person’s current health conditions and cognitive abilities to create a care plan that meets their needs. A person’s care plan must be re-assessed annually so the community provides up-to-date care according to recent changes in their physical or mental needs.
Residents are welcome to arrange third-party care with a provider other than their assisted living community if they need additional services. Although residences may not discharge someone solely because their needs change, they may do so when extenuating circumstances apply. For example, a community may involuntarily discharge a resident if they consume illegal substances on-site or they disrupt other residents with their behavior. For more information, prospective assisted living residents should review the ODHS regulations for involuntary discharges at long-term care communities.
Assisted Living vs. Other Types of Senior Care in Portland, Oregon
Assisted living communities are one of several types of senior care communities in Portland, Oregon. Long-term care communities also include independent living residences and nursing homes, offering different levels of care than assisted living.
Independent and assisted living each provide community-based, long-term care. They offer services and amenities that help residents live a fulfilling, maintenance-free life. However, there are key differences in the types of care they provide.
Unlike assisted living facilities, independent living communities in Portland do not provide daily assistance with residents’ activities of daily living. Instead, they offer housekeeping, apartment maintenance, and other non-medical services to help residents live their lives to the fullest.
Independent living is a popular alternative to home-based care because it gives residents around-the-clock peace of mind. Staff are available 24-hours a day at independent living communities in Portland, helping residents in emergency situations. If a person is able to complete their activities of daily living without ongoing assistance but they want the benefits of community-based senior care, independent living can be an excellent choice.
Unlike independent or assisted living residences, nursing homes in Portland are licensed to provide skilled nursing care. When a person’s chronic illness or injury requires ongoing medical attention, nursing homes can provide the services and assistance they need. Nursing homes are readily equipped with healthcare technology and support devices, making them the safest, most effective choice for many families. If a person needs ongoing medical attention to manage their chronic conditions, nursing homes may be a more suitable option for care than assisted living.
Senior care is not a one-size-fits-all opportunity. Communities that meet one person’s needs may not help another. Families should speak with their health care professionals and community representatives to identify their level of care, helping them choose a long-term care residence that will meet their needs.
Remember that funding for long-term care may vary by the type of community. A program that pays for nursing home care may not pay for independent or assisted living (and vice versa).
Standard Assisted Living Amenities in Portland, Oregon
Assisted living residences in Portland must serve three meals per day (with additional snacks) for each resident, according to the dietary allowances set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Guide Pyramid.
Residences must modify meals according to each resident’s religious restrictions, special dietary needs (like preparing meals without allergens or animal products), and personal preferences. Many communities serve meals cut into easy-to-swallow bites that minimize choking or aspiration risks. Common meal modifications include dishes made with low sodium, no carbohydrates, or kosher ingredients - although this list is not inclusive.
Although assisted living communities in Portland must, at the minimum, provide the services and amenities required by the ODHS regulations, many offer optional on-campus resources that create a “resort-style” experience for the people who live there. These amenities are designed to enhance resident’s enjoyment and give them additional freedoms, improving their assisted living experience.
Popular resort-style amenities at assisted living communities in Portland include:
Living rooms with large televisions and comfortable furniture
Game rooms or billiard rooms
Business centers with computers and internet access
Barbershops or hair salons
Gardens with walking trails
Swimming pools or jacuzzis
According to the ODHS regulations, assisted living communities in Portland must provide recreational and social events for residents. Theses activities may include opportunities like:
Game nights and friendly competitions
Arts and crafts sessions, like knitting or painting classes
Continuing education opportunities, like lectures and classes
Group outings to nearby points of interest
Happy hours and social mixers
Amenities and recreational activities vary by community, so it’s important for families to check what their preferred residences offer before applying. Many communities publish their schedule of events online each month, making it easier for current and prospective residents to see what’s happening on-campus in advance
Assisted Living Apartments in Portland, Oregon
Assisted living residences and residential care facilities in Portland must provide specific living conditions according to the ODHS regulations, depending on their respective license. It’s normal for communities to offer additional in-unit amenities beyond those required by the ODHS, but they must fulfill the state’s minimum recommendations.
If a residence qualifies as an assisted living community, they must provide individual units for each resident. Units must offer lockable doors, private bathrooms, and kitchen areas (may be kitchens or kitchenettes) that adhere to Oregon’s building regulations. Shared units are permitted, but only when two residents voluntarily choose to live with another person (common for spouses moving into assisted living) - communities may not assign a resident a roommate without both inhabitants first requesting it.
Bathrooms are required to have a wheelchair-accessible shower, a toilet (with appropriate modifications when needed), and a sink. Kitchens must have refrigeration systems, a cooking appliance (like a stove or a microwave), sinks, and space for food preparation and storage (like countertops and cabinets). Assisted living apartments must have escape windows so residents may easily evacuate in emergency situations.
Residential care facilities must adhere to a different set of regulations than assisted living communities in Portland. Communities licensed as residential care facilities may provide private or shared units. They may house no more than two individuals per senior living unit. If residents have individual bedrooms, they must connect to a shared living area - bedrooms may not directly open into a shared community space (like a hallway).
Residential care facilities in Portland may offer bathrooms directly inside living spaces or they may be centrally located in the shared hallways. Units with dedicated bathrooms must have a sink, a toilet, a mirror, and they must be wheelchair-accessible.
Assisted living communities and residential care facilities may provide optional in-unit amenities alongside those required by the ODHS, which may include features like:
Balconies or patios
Individually controlled heating and air conditioning
Cable or internet hookups
Additional living space, like dining areas
Assisted living communities and residential care facilities in Portland typically offer tours for families, giving them an opportunity to see their apartments before moving in.
Things to Do in Portland, Oregon
Portland is an exciting city with limitless options for fun and entertainment. From beautiful natural parks to some of the nation’s most exciting food choices, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in the Portland area.
Assisted living residents may enjoy the Portland Japanese Garden, located in the heart of the city near Washington Park. The gardens are home to unique, serene landscapes including traditional Japanese flora, waterfalls, and more.
Finished at the gardens? The Oregon Zoo is located just minutes away, offering hours of fun for the whole family. The zoo is home to hundreds of different species, including endangered animals. Founded in 1888, this 64-acre zoo is the oldest of its kind west of Mississipi River.
When families are looking for indoor fun, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a must-see. The facility houses hundreds of exciting, interactive exhibits that are fun for the whole family.
Funding Assisted Living in Portland, Oregon
When a person approaches retirement age, they may wonder how they will pay for long-term care. Paying out-of-pocket with retirement funds or personal savings is a popular way to cover the costs, as are long-term care insurance policies and government-subsidized programs (like Medicaid waivers). Fortunately for families in Portland, there are many ways to finance long-term care, including assisted living living.
Long-term care insurance is an effective and popular way to pay for assisted living in Portland. Many assisted living communities accept it as a form of payment, depending on each prospective resident’s policy and insurance provider.
However, long-term care insurance is most affordable when policyholders plan in advance. The earlier a person buys a long-term care insurance plan, the less they will pay for their monthly premiums before they retire.
When long-term care insurance isn’t an option to pay for assisted living in Portland, qualifying families may consider Medicaid to pay for care. Before Medicaid will pay for community-based long-term care, an applicant must meet the eligibility requirements for one of Oregon’s waiver programs.
The Community First Choice (CFC) program can be a helpful resource for retiring individuals in Oregon who meet the eligibility requirements. To be eligible, a person must require a nursing level of care (for example, they must require assistance with their activities of daily living) and meet Medicaid’s financial eligibility requirements. Home or community-based supports must adequately meet the prospective resident’s physical and mental needs.
The Independent Choices Program (ICP) is an additional statewide resource for families in Portland, offering a cash award to eligible participants. Recipients may use the monthly award to cover any costs associated with long-term care, including supportive services and assisted living.
Alongside Medicaid’s programs, retiring adults who served in the United States Armed Forces have access to additional funding for assisted living through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA offers a special program they call Aid & Attendance, providing monthly cash payments to eligible veterans.
To qualify for the Aid & Attendance program, a person must:
Have served in the United States Armed Forces during a time of war and not been dishonorably discharged
Be eligible for monthly pension through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
Require the aid and assistance from another person to perform their activities of daily living, including bathing, dressing, eating, and maintaining their personal hygiene
To learn more about the Aid & Attendance benefit, veterans should contact their VA case worker for information about their personal eligibility.